The Markan Sandwich

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Wisdom 1:13-2:24 , Psalm 30, 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43

Mark 5 mentions the raising of Jairus’ daughter, switches to the woman with a hemorrhage, and then switches back to what actually happened to Jarius’ daughter. Scholars have come up with the somewhat infelicitous expression, the “Markan Sandwich”.

The Markan Sandwich gives us an interesting juxtaposition because in both cases, the suffering involved is linked to the number 12. The little girl is 12 years old and the woman had the hemorrhage for 12 years. This might be one of the reasons Mark juxtaposes these two — in addition to the fact that they happened at the same time.

The number 12 represents ‘Totality of Maturity’ in the Bible. Perhaps it is mysteriously poetic that both the woman and little girl experienced a totality of suffering (12 years) before the arrival of the Divine Healer. As they say, the night is always darkest before the dawn.

Both stories are fascinating yet profoundly dramatic. Both speak of characters having supernatural Faith that made them counter-cultural.

Jairus, a synagogue leader, went against his norms by asking Jesus (a Jew who was blaspheming from his perspective) to raise his daughter.

The woman, who was considered ritually unclean due to her haemorrhage (Lev 5) went against her norms by touching a man in her desire to be healed.

Today, we are also called to have supernatural faith that goes against our normative thinking. In the secular world today, many believe that Death is ‘Natural’. This is incorrect because God NEVER created death. Before Original Sin and the fall, Adam and Eve were immortal. We know this for “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.” (Wis 1:13).

Due to our fallen nature, death became the wage for our sins (c.f. Rom 6:23). Believing that physical death was not part of God’s original plan for us is critical, because it explains why we need a Savior and Divine Healer. This is also inherently programmed in us, which is why everyone believes in the immortality of the soul. Today, let us remember Jesus, our Divine Healer — our only means to eternal life!


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Noel Ethan Tan

Noel Ethan Tan

Noel is a Singaporean working as a rehabilitation counsellor at ACC(S) Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre. He is currently doing a part-time Masters Program in Counselling and Guidance at NTU, Singapore. In his church ministry, Noel is currently serving in a young adults' Catholic community called Anawim that does Bible Exegesis. Noel is also pursuing a Certificate in Theology at the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore. His favorite Bible verse is 1 Peter 3:15 — “In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”

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