Mark 5:33

Then the woman, in fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and threw herself down before him, and told him the whole truth.


truth does not cast out fear
though often is its first victim


Sometimes we hear a word or a phrase that echoes. We are pulled back to 5:22 when Jairus “fell before Jesus”. Yes, that is the prior reference. Well, maybe 3:11 comes closer because that uses exactly the same Greek word (προσπίπτω, to fall toward) rather than the Jairus variant (πίπτω, from a higher place to lower). In 3:11 the “evil spirits saw him, they fell down (προσπίπτω) at his feet and shouted, ‘You are God’s Son’.” Or, still earlier, in 1:40 a person with a skin disease “fell” to his knees (different Greek word but similar action).

The different stories give us plenty of opportunity to reflect on different kinds of falling. There is controlled falling like Jairus. There is also an overtone of falling because of being blown by a strong wind from Genesis 1 (unnamed woman, spirit; variety of evil, chaos storm).

This raises questions about any calculation that goes into our own acts of humility and awe.

While comparing parallels of falling, it is helpful to also reflect on the connections between “knowing” and “fear and trembling”. The biblical use of “fear” has to do with our apprehension of the power of G*D. “Trembling” is related to seeing our weakness clearly.

This woman knows her intention to be healed and the trembling of her hand as she reaches to touch. She also knows the result of that touch—healing. Knowing the power she was approaching and knowing her audacity would likely bring lightening death or enlightening health, you can imagine her bated breath leading to being blown over and, beginning from the beginning, telling her twelve-year tale.

From what we know of ourselves we can see Jairus becoming more and more fretful at this delay. As a disciple ourself, we can see them tiring of listening and anxious to get on to the bigger event they were on their way to. If Mark had a Good Samaritan story to tell, this would be the place to add another ingredient to his sandwich of a story within a story.

We can also see Jesus and notice how, several times during the woman’s whole story, he likely raised a hand to refocus Jairus and the disciples.

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