A Sandwich for Fear
Every writer in the Bible is Spirit-inspired yet still has a characteristic style. Here is one example of how grasping a writer’s style can point you to his intended, rich meaning.
Mark characteristically writes in “sandwiches” - two slices of bread, with the meat in the middle. The first “bread” sets up a problem; the “meat” often puts forth some kind of example that presents a solution; then the second "bread" solves the problem, by means of what is observed in the “meat”. We are meant to place ourselves in the sandwich, and watch, and learn.
In Mark 5, starting in verse 21, we encounter a problem: Jairus’ daughter is near death. The problem is twofold, really: death, and fear, occurring understandably in Jairus. Jesus agrees to go with him. Verses 21-24 are the first piece of bread.
Then the meat, v. 25-34. As they walk, a woman who had a discharge of blood - who therefore was, under the law, always impure, separated from the temple and the people - she had heard reports about Jesus, and that good news filled her with faith. That faith then propelled her past her fears, past her constant status of being impure, to fight through the crowd, and reach out and . . . touch Jesus. Jesus senses the act, and asks who it was. Though fearing and trembling - there’s that word again, fear - she steps forward, in faith. Then Jesus acknowledges what’s going on: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” And she was. Faith propelled her past her fears, to experience what Paul would later call “the power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:10).
Now to the second piece of bread. While Jesus is still talking, Jairus hears news, too: his daughter had died. Jesus’ reply draws upon the “meat”: “Do not fear, only believe.” It is no wonder then that Jesus separates his group from the voices speaking to Jairus (v. 37); their news was only hopeless (v. 35) and cynical (v. 40). But Jesus has the final word; the girl is raised from the dead - in this Jesus, death is not final but only “sleeping” (v. 39). Jairus’ faith needn’t be super-strong; only strong enough to move him past his fear to trust in the only One capable of overcoming death, the object of his fears. The woman - the impure “outsider” - is an example in faith for the “holy insider”.
Ground-zero for our fight against fear is not perfecting our belief system about Jesus, but Jesus himself.