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When life was crashing all about him, Jairus, a leader at the synagogue, learned to follow Jesus and keep on believing. His account is all the more interesting because there is a story within his story.
When Jesus returned, the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. Behold, there came a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. He fell down at Jesus' feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
But as Jesus went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And Jesus said, "Who touched Me?" When all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'"
When the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him. And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well."
While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, "Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher." But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well."
When Jesus came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James and John and the father and mother of the girl. All wept and mourned for her; but He said, "Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping." And they ridiculed Him, knowing she was dead.
But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, "Little girl, arise." Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. He commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.
Luke 8:40-56 NKJV, condensed
Jesus may have been run out of Gadera, but he was certainly welcomed when he got back on his home turf. A whole multitude was waiting for him! Within that crowd we get a close-up of two individuals and their emotionally-charged stories. A prominent, distraught man named Jairus and an insignificant, hurting woman whose name no one remembers. He had sufficient means to be a leader in the synagogue; she had spent all her income on doctors to no avail. Both had done everything humanly possible. Two very different people, yet both believing Jesus was their one last hope.
His grief, though deep, had been brief. Hers was long and drawn out, twelve years in fact. On this day she was ready, she was going to do it. His mission had to be accomplished this day also, or there would be no tomorrow. Neither relished being in that crowd; they both actually hated it. He was more comfortable around the scribes and Pharisees and heretofore held himself aloof from the swarming crowds around Jesus. Her disease made her "unclean" and like a leper she was not permitted to mingle with others. Yet, here in this passage, their experiences overlap briefly in the presence of Jesus.
Jairus got to Jesus first. His only daughter, twelve years old, was near death and he couldn't bear the thought of losing her. Jairus was beyond caring what other people thought a respectable man should do or not do. He must have loved his daughter very much. In desperation he knelt at Jesus' feet and begged him to come and save her life.
Jesus responded to his earnest request, shifted direction and started to follow him home, even though house calls were not the norm. Wherever Jesus went, lots of people followed. I guess they were all going to Jairus' house, too. Imagine the urgency to get Jesus to the girl before she died. Haste was imperative, but did you ever try to maneuver your way quickly through a crowd!
It wasn't long before their precious momentum was interpreted. Jairus, with all his distress and anxiety, got pushed into the background, while a shadowy woman took over center stage. She had pushed her way through the crowd and was causing a commotion.
Jairus had to stand and wait while some obscure woman put his little daughter's life in jeopardy. If he were able to focus, he had a chance to observe the crowd from the inside and see a mass of human need before him. People whose names would never be remembered, with hopes and desires as real as his own. Jesus was asking who touched him. Peter made a joke about it. His laughter seemed strangely out of place. What did it matter. Will somebody please hurry and step up so we can get on with it.
When Jesus called the woman "Daughter," Jairus got lost in his own world again. . . .until the messenger arrived and spoke the dreaded news: Your daughter is dead; don't trouble the Teacher anymore. It was over. His little sweetheart and good buddy was gone from him forever. He could not cry, not here surrounded by strangers. But as the light in his spirit drained from his body, Jairus thought he heard a message of hope from the lips of Jesus--Don't be afraid to keep on believing! Suddenly they were moving again. Jesus was taking charge now, talking and giving orders. Jairus followed, silently. Who was he to believe? The message of death, or Jesus? And what was it Jesus wanted him to believe?
The pace moved quickly into the little girl's house. Since the mourners scoffed at him, Jesus put them out. Tensions were rising. Usual procedures were being ignored. People didn't know how to behave. Six people walked into the room of death--Jesus, followed by father, mother, Peter, James and John. Believe--that was the password. If you don't believe, you will not get in.
Jesus took the dead girl's hand and commanded her to get up. And she did. A hundred hallelujahs; no, ten thousand! It was enough to take your breath away. She walked around, a healthy but hungry 12 year old, and probably jumped right into the outstretched arms of her father. Jairus believed Jesus could heal, but he knew nothing of resurrections, until this day when the spirit of his beloved daughter was restored to her lifeless body.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: Share an experience wherein you needed to be somewhere in a hurry, but there were all kinds of delays and interruptions.
Jairus was not the typical person who came seeking a favor from Jesus. What made him different from many of the other people in the crowd? In what ways was he the same as all the others?
React to the tenderness of this father and the bond he had with his daughter. What emotions did you feel as you considered this aspect of the story? Could you, or could you not, identify with this loving father/daughter relationship?
Within Jairus' time period and culture, unless you were an only or eldest son, children were not all that important. What does it tell you about Jairus that he would humble himself and plead with Jesus to heal his little daughter? What does it tell you about Jesus that he would raise a child, and a girl at that, from the dead? Who really is important in life?
When Jairus fell at Jesus' feet, the onlookers would have been shocked. Whoever would have thought it, that Jairus would go to a faith healer! When was the last time you shocked people by something you did?
How much faith does it take? For Jairus, all it took was for him to keep walking close behind Jesus. How about you? What image do you use to express how much faith it takes?
What experiences in your life have taught you to keep on believing? Who are the people who have inspired you to continue in faith?
Jesus is not physically here to restore life to our loved ones. We have to learn to live without them and keep believing in their resurrection in some far-off day. How would these words of Jesus apply to us, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she/he will be made well."?
Jairus turned his back on the messengers of death, and followed Jesus instead. Jesus put the mourners out because they didn't believe his message of life. What are some current examples of people choosing life over death? What would it mean for you to reject death and choose life?