The “Passivity” of Jesus in Mark 5:25–34 -- By: Charles E. Powell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 162:645 (Jan 2005)
Article: The “Passivity” of Jesus in Mark 5:25–34
Author: Charles E. Powell


The “Passivity” of Jesus in Mark 5:25–34

Charles E. Powell

Charles E. Powell is Pastor, Forest Lake Bible Church, Niceville, Florida.

The Gospel of Mark has enjoyed a surge of attention in recent centuries. All but neglected by the early church fathers, Mark’s Gospel is now appreciated for its fast-paced storytelling, unique theological themes, and its critical role in the Synoptic problem, either as a source for Matthew and Luke, or as a synthesis of both Gospels. It has been called “the Gospel of the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), “the Gospel of Action,”1 “the Gospel of the Suffering Servant,”2 and “the Book of Christ the Servant.”3

Mark has several theological themes, some that it shares with the other Gospels, while others are unique. The “messianic secret” theme, which in some cases has been overdrawn, points to Jesus’ own perception and portrayal of Himself, as well as Mark’s portrayal of Jesus as the Suffering Servant. The Messiah whom the disciples and Israel were expecting was not the kind of Messiah Jesus intended to be. The kingdom Jesus proclaimed was not the kingdom the first-century Jews had in mind. Mark’s practical theme of discipleship is drawn out not through detailed discourses but in the way Jesus spent time with the disciples and involved them in His purposes (3:13–19).

Most commentators emphasize the Christology of Mark,

especially the presentation of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God,4 and the Suffering Servant. To be sure, these aspects are emphasized throughout the Gospel. However, are they the emphasis in every passage? The miracle stories in Mark highlight Jesus’ power and authority over disease, demons, and nature. Therefore an emphasis on Jesus as the Son of God is intended. One miracle story, however, shifts the emphasis from Jesus, the Miracle Worker, to the one receiving the miracle. This is the story of the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage in Mark 5:25–34.

This story is unique for several reasons. First, it is tied to the story of the resuscitation of Jairus’s daughter. Second, it gives more information about the woman and her actions than about Jesus. Third, the woman’s status as unclean according to the Law and the implications of her touching Jesus are left unaddressed. Fourt...

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