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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Mark’s sandwiches

By Steve Litchfield, Pulpit Supply and IWU Extension Teacher | Jun 22, 2018

“Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:35-36

Have you ever noticed the sandwiches in the gospel of Mark? I learned a new word the other day: “intercalation.” In relationship to the gospel of Mark, it can simply mean, “sandwich.”

When you are reading the gospel of Mark, noticing these “sandwiches” can really help. For example, starting in Mark 5:21, Jairus, a synagogue ruler, sees Jesus and pleads for him to come and heal his daughter who is dying. So Jesus goes with Jairus. (Mark 5:24)

However, as Jesus is going to Jairus’ house, Mark relates a second story, an intercalation, or sandwich.

A large crowd develops around Jesus. In the crowd is a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years. No one has been able to heal her, and in that culture, bleeding diseases meant defilement and estrangement.

In the midst of the crowd the woman touched Jesus’ cloak because she thinks, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

Jesus realizes that power has gone out from him and turns to see and ask who has touched him. The woman, knowing what happened to her, came and fell at Jesus’ feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)

Now back to the Jairus story, that is, the rest of the “intercalation,” or “sandwich.” While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” (Mark 5:35) Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36)

Jesus took Peter, James and John along with him to Jairus’ house. At the home people were crying and wailing with grief. Jesus entered the home with just the father and mother and the disciples with him. Jesus took the dead child by the hand and said to her, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was 12 years old). (Mark 5:41-42)

In Mark’s gospel, some of his “intercalations” or “sandwiches” have comparisons, and some have contrasts. With Jairus’ daughter and the bleeding woman there are several comparisons. Both stories have daughters. Jairus’ 12-year old daughter is dying, and Jesus calls the woman with the 12-year bleeding disease, “daughter.” Both situations are defiling. In that culture, the chronic bleeding and touching a dead body were cause for estrangement from society. Most importantly, both of these intertwined accounts call for faith in the Messiah who can heal and give life.

Jesus affirms the woman, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34) Jesus encourages Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36) Jesus gives evidence that he is the Christ, or Messiah, come to restore the sick, and raise the dead. The way we access Jesus is by faith. That is a sandwich worth eating.

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