Discussion Guide for Mark 5:21-43

Dramatizing Hopelessness

How many of you remember this bit of comedy from the Hee Haw TV show?

“Gloom, despair, and agony on me!” Hee Haw had a lot of fun with the way that people often dramatize their hopelessness and desperation. We also realize that these things are real in the lives of many, many people.

In the sermon this week, Jonathan talks about the relationship between hopelessness and some of the biggest problems we face as a society, like drug addiction and poverty. Many people cannot find their way out of these conditions because they do not have the hope necessary to get out.

The Root of Hopelessness

  • How do you define hopelessness and despair?
  • Do you agree that hopelessness is a root of many of the problems that people face? Why or why not?

Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus’s Daughter

Now Read Mark 5:21-43 together.

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “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.” 24 And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 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?” 36 But overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus[b] saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 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. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

We know that many people around Capernaum were convinced of neither Jesus’ power nor his identity. We know very little about what Jairus and the woman thought about Jesus as a person. All we know is that in their desperation they sought Jesus as the only hope for what they needed. 

Jesus seems to take a very keen and special interest in people and situations that seem hopeless. He is not preoccupied with their position in society. He does not ask what they can do for him. He doesn’t even correct where their faith is lacking or off base. Jesus takes a steadfast approach of kindness, love, care, and healing for people who are hurting.

Discussion Questions

  • How do Jairus and the woman each demonstrate their desperation?
  • What obstacles did they have to overcome internally and externally to seek Jesus’ help?
  • Why was it significant that Jesus brought the woman forward publicly?
  • What do you think Jesus meant when he told her that her faith had healed her?
  • Do you think the healing of Jairus’ daughter affected the disciples’ view of Jesus?
  • How do you think Jairus and his wife reacted to the healing of their daughter?
  • What is the most desperate situation you have been in?
  • Have you ever had to seek help from Jesus knowing that only he could help you?
  • How can hopelessness ultimately be a condition that leads to salvation?
  • What hopeless case do you need to look to Jesus for hope with?
Jonathan Pugh
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