Mark 5:21-24 (Moffatt Bible) Now when Jesus had crossed back in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him; so he remained beside the sea. 22A president of the synagogue, called Jairus, came up, and on catching sight of him fell at his feet 23with ernest entreaties. “My little girl is dying,” he said, “do come and lay your hands on her, that she may recover and live.” 24So Jesus went away with him. Now a large crowd followed him; they pressed round him.
At this stage, Jesus is interrupted. The story of Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter stops. A woman who has been sick, who has been bleeding for twelve years touches Jesus and is healed. That is is a wonderful story, but we will not look at that miracle today. Continuing the story with verse 35.
Mark 5:35-43 (Moffatt Bible) He was still speaking when a message came from the house of the synagogue-president “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36Instantly Jesus ignored the remark and told the president, “Have no fear, only believe.” 37He would not allow any to accompany him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38So they reached the president’s house, where he saw a tumult of people wailing and making shrill lament; 39and on entering he asked them, “Why make a noise and wail? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40They laughed at him. However, he put them all outside and taking the father and mother of the child as well as his companions he went in to where the child was lying; 41then he took the child’s hand and said to her . . . “Little girl, rise, I tell you.” 42The girl got up at once and began to walk (she was twelve years old); and at once they were lost in utter amazement. 43But his strictly forbade them to let anyone know about it, and told them to giver her something to eat.
This story is recorded after the following things have taken place:
Jairus was a synagogue ruler or head of a synagogue.1 This was an important position. We have an idea of some of the duties Jairus had. The exact duties may be impossible to know. In some cases, it was an honorary position, with no direct administrative responsibilities.2 From my readings, I gather the ruler of the synagogue was essentially the chairman of the board of elders. He was responsible for the services.3 Part of those duties included the weekly Torah readings.4 That does not mean he would have conducted the services. But he might have conducted some services. Usually, the synagogue ruler ensured the services were running smoothly. He also made sure the building was properly maintained.5
We do not know what Jairus thought of Jesus. He may have considered Jesus to be a skilled teacher of the Scriptures, the Torah. It is possible he thought Jesus was a heretic6 or a fanatic. We are not told. But we could probably conclude he knew Jesus did not represent mainstream Jewish thought.
How did Jairus approach Jesus? Not as an equal. Verse 23 tells us Jairus fell at Jesus’ feet. No big deal, you think. But put this in context. There is a large crowd of people. It is so crowded you can hardly move. Kinda like it is at a major mall around Christmas. Jairus struggles to get through the crowd to see the Messiah. When he sees the Messiah, he falls at Jesus’ feet. He may have knelt down and then bent down until his head touched the ground.7 Try doing that in a large crowd. Tough to get up enough guts to do that in front of everybody. If the crowd was quite heavy, a person might have had difficulty getting enough room to kneel down like that.
How would you feel, if a large crowd saw you touch your head to the ground for a person? More importantly, how would you feel if some important people thought the person to whom you bowed down was a nut, a heretic, a devil? And what if powerful enemies wanted that person dead? Obviously, Jairus was desperate. Possibly desperate enough to out himself as a secret admirer or follower of Jesus.
He had reason to be desperate. Jairus’ 12 year old daughter (Luke 8:42) was sick. The seriousness does not come across well in English. The Greek carries the meaning that she was gasping her last breath.8
They start out to see Jairus’ daughter. No sooner than they are on the way a queue jumper gets in the way. Don’t you just love line jumpers. There you are - standing in line in a store or an office. Your business is important. Somebody cuts in front of you with trivial business and makes you want, and wait, and wait.
Bad news comes. A messenger tells Jairus his daughter is dead and there is no need to keep bothering Jesus. Humanity’s despair; God’s opportunity.9
I do not know how you would have felt. But I may have been thinking, “I was here first. My request is more important. This lady has been bleeding for twelve years. She could have wait a little longer. A few hours would not have hurt her. If You had given my request the attention it deserved, my daughter might be alive.” Perhaps this is how you feel now. Other are having their requests answered. You cry out, “My turn!” Those might have been the very thoughts Jesus answered when he said, “Have no fear, only believe.”
But wait. Perhaps, the delay helped. The delay might have given Jairus hope. A woman just touched Jesus’ clothes and is healed. Maybe, just maybe, Jesus can help. After all, He said, “Do not worry.”
Jesus took only Peter, James, and John with Him. Together, they walked to Jairus’ home. We are not certain why Jesus took Peter, James, and John. These disciples were present at the transfiguration and in Gethsemane.10 I think the Son of God might have chosen the disciples for a reason. Jesus may have known they needed to see the miracle to cope with His death, to give him hope that He would rise again, just as He said.
When Jesus got to the home, it was crowded and noisy. Mourners were there. The mourners were screaming and crying. Some of the mourners might have been paid mourners.11 The custom was to hire professional mourners, who were paid to come in12 and wail up a storm. There might not, however, have been enough time for them to hire professional mourners.13
When they got to the house, Jesus kicked everybody out, except the child’s parents. Only the disciples, the parents, and Jesus enter the room where the girl was.14 Then He gave the girl life. The law (Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15) required two or three witnesses to confirm truth. This miracle happened in the presence of five witnesses!15 The witnesses proved that Jesus had power over life and death, and helped prove that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah.
After Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead, Jesus told them to feed her. There are a couple of good signs people are feeling better. One good sign a person is feeling better is an appetite. Another very good sign is when they complain about the hospital food, the nurses, or the service.
Jairus’ name is probably the Greek form of a word that means “he will illuminate.”16 And boy does Jairus ever do that. His story illuminates. The story of Jairus and his dauther teaches us that Jesus is the Lord, the powerful Lord that has power over death.
This story gives us a few insights into how God works in the church. Jesus used an extraordinary method to give life to the girl. It was nothing less than a miracle. After the miracle was over, Jesus asked that ordinary things be done to keep the girl alive. She was to eat. This illustrates a principle. With our God, the extraordinary and the ordinary are joined. Both work together to accomplish God’s will. God only uses the extraordinary when the ordinary is not adequate. When an extraordinary method, a mircale, is not needed, ordinary methods should be used.17
While we can never discount the role of God, we need to remember to combine our energies with God’s energies. In the church, we see our skills and abilities combined with the power of God.
From the story, we see the power of intercession. Jairus interceded for his daughter. We can intercede for both the physical and spiritual lives of people. God listens. God cares.
This story gives glimpses into important things about salvation. “About salvation?” you may be thinking, “What gives?”
Jairus asked Jesus to heal his daughter. The Greek word used means to heal or save.18 But it means more than just physical healing. The word translated heal is used 20 times in the Gospels to refer to spiritual salvation.19
First, when we come to God for salvation, we come as Jairus. He did not tell the Messiah, “You owe me. After all, I’m a good man. I am an important person. I am so dedicated I pay tithe. I am a leader in the synagogue, a leader in church.” Jairus literally threw himself at the Savior’s feet. God does not owe us any favors. No matter how good or powerful you are, you need the Lord. You see, the result of sin is death (Romans 6:23). And all have sinned (Romans 3:23).
Second, we have nothing we can trade for God’s love. Salvation is not for sale. Fortunately, as Jesus brought life to the girl, He can bring life to us. Romans 6:23 (Moffatt Bible) “God’s gift is life eternal in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Third, our faith is not strong enough to buy us salvation. We are a scared and timid lot. Faith, confidence, and trust are not natural. We are born worriers. That’s why stress reduction books and seminars are so popular.
While the queer community is a brave community, the queer community is also timid. There is the worry about coming out to a new person, about being out at work, about being out at church. What will he or she think of me? Am I too butch, too fem? Are these the right clothes? Does God really, really love me? And the internal questioning goes on.
The people screamed and cried. In many funerals in this time, the people ripped out their hair and tore their clothes.20 But Jesus remained calm and quiet. The difference was faith. He had perfect faith. The people did not.
The faith that saves us is a gift. Ephesians 2:8 (New American Standard Bible) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” I like the way the New Living Translation words the first half of the verse. “God saved you by his special favor . . .”
In the story, we find hope for the future. The story of Jesus raising the girl from the dead gives us assurance regarding the resurrection. Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter. She had recently died. She can be thought of as representing those who died in Christ not long before the resurrection. The Savior also raised Lazarus, who had been dead for days. It matters not how long a Believer has been dead. A Believer may have been dead for a few minutes or for a few hundred years. God is able to raise all Believers at the resurrection.21
Knowing the little girl was raised from the dead also gives gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified people hope that they have eternal life in Christ Jesus. The very God who can speak the world into existence, the very God who can speak a word and give life, is the very God who saves queer people. A God who can speak and create the universe, speak and save a life is powerful enough to speak over the homophobia of churches to save the Lord’s queer children.
Perhaps, you are seeking a miracle in your life. The Lord of miracles is here today. You can call on the God of Miracles. You may be wanting the peace that comes with assurance of God’s love. The Eternal Peace, the Eternal Shalom of Jesus Christ is available. You only need to trust the Lord. You may be wanting hope. The God of Hope is also here. So go now in peace. Your turn for a miracle will come.