What is the highest place on earth? You might say that Mt. Everest at more than 29,035 feet above sea level is the highest place on earth. I beg to differ though. There is a higher place. I am sure some of you have discovered this place, and perhaps some of you have not. I would like to direct you to the 5th chapter of the Gospel of Mark to show that place to you.
I have always appreciated a couple of stories in Mark 5 that run together. The two stories are about a synagogue ruler named Jairus, whose 12 year old daughter was ill (and died), and a woman who had been suffering an affliction for 12 years. The story of the woman is actually inserted right into the middle of Jairus’ story. She basically intrudes upon Jesus as he is going to help Jairus’ daughter.
There is an interesting contrast between this man Jairus and this woman. As I have said, Jairus was a synagogue ruler. We are told his name and what he does. The woman was merely an unknown person. Her name is not even mentioned. We are just told about her affliction. She had been “subject to bleeding for twelve years” (Mark 5:25). Basically, this woman was suffering from a continual menstrual flow that had not stopped.
As a synagogue ruler Jairus would have been an important and well-respected man in the community. Everyone would have known Jairus. He would have been a popular person due to his role as a spiritual leader. The woman was an unknown nobody, and even an outcast. According to the OT, a woman was considered to be unclean during her menstrual cycle. That meant she was not allowed to touch or be touched by others. She couldn’t go into the temple during this time. Basically she was cut off from God and from man. She was the unknown outcast living her life in obscurity.
Jairus would have been a man of means. He would have been well compensated for his role as a ruler of the synagogue. The woman was broke. She had spent all that she had on doctors.
Jairus had 12 years of happiness with his daughter come to an end when she died. The woman had 12 years of affliction and discomfort finally come to an end after Jesus healed her.
As you can see, these are two completely different people from opposite sides of the track. One was wealthy, prominent, and popular. The other was poor, obscure, and an outcast. And yet they both shared some things in common. They both had a great need. Jairus had a critically ill daughter slipping towards death. The woman had an issue of blood that the doctors could not help to heal. They were both desperate with nowhere else to turn. They both ended up turning to Jesus though.
It is very interesting how both of them approached Jesus. Let me share these verses, and notice how each one of them comes before Christ: “Seeing Jesus, (Jairus) fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him…” (Mark 5:22). “Then the woman … came and fell at his feet, and trembling with fear, told him the whole truth (Mark 5:33).
That day, Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, and He healed the woman from her affliction. Even though these two were quite different, they both found their answers at the feet of Jesus. Both Jairus and the woman fell at the feet of Jesus, and they both had life changing encounters with Him.
Do you know what they discovered? The highest place on earth is not Mt. Everest. The highest place on earth is at the feet of Jesus. There is no greater place to go. There is no higher place to climb to. Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you face, I encourage you to fall at the feet of Jesus. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at email@example.com or 912-634-2960.