A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed: An Outline for True Reconciliation
By: Ashley Blackburn
When meditating on this story of the hemorrhaging woman and Jarius’ daughter from the Gospel of Mark, a formula for True Reconciliation emerges. First we must recognize that reconciliation can occur whenever we ask God, with a contrite heart, to forgive us; this is the promise of our ever-merciful God. True Reconciliation goes deeper and transforms us from the inside out. The fruit of True Reconciliation is a life that is changed; when someone walks in newness of life, forever grateful for the gift they have received. Who wouldn’t want this? To break away from our bondage with sin and to experience the freedom of the Kingdom of God.
As we dig deeper into this passage, the following 4 steps are what show us the path of True Reconciliation:
- Open your heart
- Sacrament of Confession
- Healing & Restoration
Step 1: Surrender
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. (Mark 5:21-24)
Here we see a father who has tried everything in his human power to save his daughter and still she is on the verge of death. This father is standing face to face with the death of his beloved daughter and at this juncture, he can either continue on this path of trying to find a cure, a better doctor, another meditation or treatment OR he can surrender. Surrendering is not simply giving up, instead Jairus is surrendering to a higher power. He is handing his daughter over to the care of Jesus. Jairus has realized that he can do nothing to save her and so he needs a Savior, someone with more power and authority to save his daughter’s life.
The fact that Jairus is a synagogue leader allows us to better understand all that he was risking by surrendering his daughter to Jesus. Needless to say, the leaders of the synagogue were not fans of Jesus. Jairus had to swallow his pride, he had to put aside what others would think of him, and he had humble himself before Jesus, begging him to help his daughter. Jairus was to the point where he knew that he needed a Savior.
In much of the same way, God, our Heavenly Father, wants what is best for you. He created you… you are his child. He wants you to be healthy, to be happy, to grow and enjoy all the goodness that life offers. When we turn away from him we become sick – spiritually sick. We wander through the world seeking a cure for our spiritual sickness, but the world will never be able to heal us. In our desperation, God is there. He is calling us to surrender to him, to recognize our own need for a Savior. In this scripture passage, Jairus recognized this very thing and he chose to surrender, despite the risk of humiliation and rejection by his peers.
This first step of True Reconciliation is important and can sometimes be the toughest. Recognizing that we need a Savior and then surrendering to Jesus is one of the most important things to learn as a Christian. Often it is pride that gets in the way, hardening our hearts and destroying our ability to receive true healing. We are so used to doing so many things for ourselves that we forget that Jesus is there waiting for us to allow him to heal us.
Step 2: Open Your Heart
Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. (Mark 5:25-29)
This woman who had been suffering for many years can be likened to a prolonged turning away from God. With this we find ourselves searching in the world for something to make us happy, to fulfill us, or to heal us spiritually. The woman in this passage no doubt knew she was ill and it says that she exhausted all of her resources to find a cure, but was instead worse off. In her desperation, she knew that she could not continue on living this way; she needed a Savior. So she took the next step, Step 2 on the path of True Reconciliation, as she opened her heart and literally reached out to Jesus in order for him to save her.
We see here that the hemorrhaging woman not only believed that Jesus was her Savior, but she also had a tremendous amount of faith that he would heal her if only she would touch his garment. Due to her years of relying on other sources for her healing, this woman didn’t see herself as worthy enough to approach Jesus face to face, she didn’t know if he would be merciful based upon her current state. So she planned to simply touch his clothes, to remain unnoticed, but believing that if she did touch his garment, she would in fact experience healing.
What we find here is that this woman must have thought about an encounter with Jesus prior to gaining access to him in such a way. In the same way, we too must spend time searching our heart to examine where we have failed God, where we should have been more faithful, or where we could have better followed God’s law. This is what we call an examination of conscience. In this step, we allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate the darkness of our hearts, convicting us of our sins, and inspiring us to seek forgiveness.
Often times it is scary to take this next step; to open our hearts, bear our souls, and allow the Holy Spirit access to illuminate where we are wounded. Feelings of anger, shame, guilt, embarrassment, or fear may arise, which tempt us to turn away and stop us from opening our heart to Jesus. The other thing that may occur, is we determine that we do not need to open our hearts to Jesus because he already knows what is inside. To believe this would be a huge mistake. It is true that Jesus knows us completely and he wants nothing more than for us to be reconciled back to him, but he does not extend forgiveness without our being convicted of our sins. We must remember that when the Holy Spirit speaks to our heart and convicts us of our sins it is not a harsh judgement of our actions, but is instead an honest awareness of our sinfulness in the light of the insurmountable love and mercy of the Father. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is always gentle and it inspires us to seek forgiveness, to turn back to God, and to walk in newness of life.
This second step of True Reconciliation is where we open our heart, allow the Holy Spirit to search our soul and illuminate our sinfulness, awakening us to our need for healing. Too many times we see people stop after step 1. They recognize that they need a Savior, but then they do nothing to prepare for their encounter with Jesus. Yes, Jesus saves, but when we open our heart to him and allow him access to heal our wounds, we are led into a much deeper conversion.
Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:30-34)
Miracles of bodily healing are secondary to the greater miracle of healing souls. That’s why, in the Gospels, Jesus always cured people one-by-one. He wanted to have that personal bond. He wanted to give them a real experience of Himself; one that would convict them and change their lives forever.
After recognizing our need for a Savior, then reaching out to Jesus by opening our hearts and allowing him access to illuminate our soul, we are then called, much like the hemorrahging woman, to step forward in fear and trembling, fall down before Jesus, and tell him the whole truth. This step is accomplished in the Sacrament of Confession. With this Sacrament we have the opportunity to say in REAL WORDS, out loud, our sins. To name them and humbly ask for forgiveness. Also through this Sacrament, Jesus is there and he speaks in REAL WORDS, through the words of the priest, “your sins are forgiven”.
This life can be difficult, but Jesus tells us not to be afraid. Yes, this is our God, the One who created all that exists, the one who created you. He desires to be in a real relationship with you. He wants you to realize that you belong to His family and that you can be open and honest with Him. While our personal relationship with Jesus is important, we see in this passage that our face to face relationship with Jesus is also important. This woman was healed after her reaching out to touch Jesus’ garment. She could have walked away a fully healed woman! But Jesus called for her from amongst the crowd because he wanted something more from her. He wanted her to take the next step.
The third step of True Reconciliation is the Sacrament of Confession, which is a tangible way for us to be reconciled back to God. It is Jesus calling for us by name from amongst the crowd and allowing us to step forward and humbly confess our sins. Jesus knew that we needed this next step and so he instituted this beautiful Sacrament, where he promises to be present in a real way, in order for us to experience this next step in True Reconciliation.
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Tal′itha cu′mi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:35-43)
Every reconciliation is meant to be a resurrection. In this scripture passage, we see Jesus restoring Jairus’ daughter to life by commanding her to arise. Notice how Jesus spoke to the girl with authority and the girl immediately obeys. This not only shows us the power and authority of Jesus, but it also shows us how we too are called to heed his command, turning away from sin and walking in newness of life.
When we walk out of the Sacrament of Confession, we have more to do. We are no doubt forgiven and completely absolved from our sins. We are no doubt free from our bondage of sin and death. But we are also commanded by Jesus, who has authority over death, to sin no more, to walk in newness of life. Jairus’ daughter immediately obeys. She has been truly restored to life. Everyone is amazed because they see the change in her. She is walking away from her encounter with Jesus transformed.
This fourth step of True Reconciliation is to sin no more; to walk in the light of our converted hearts. Often times we leave the Sacrament of Confession and we think we will never fall again, we walk away with renewed strength. But in our human nature, we are bound to fall again and when we do, we must remember that obeying the command of Jesus to “arise” means not only turning away from sin, but it also means, if we fail in our efforts, that we are offered, through the abundant mercy of God, the opportunity to follow the path of True Reconciliation once again.