Don’t be afraid; just believe

The Raising of Jairus’ daughter, 1871 (oil on canvas), Polenov, Vasilij Dmitrievich

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. – Mark 5:21‭-‬43

The subject of today’s passage is healing and resurrection. Where does all this happen, by the lake of course, which is why it is included in my float looking at water references in the bible.  This passage is really a “resurrection sandwich” with a side of healing. It begins as several of the water passages lately have begun with Jesus and a crowd by the lake.

There is someone in this crowd who does not fit the normal MO for Jesus’ crowds. The “bread” of the resurrection sandwich is a man named Jairus, one of the synagogue leaders.  Jairus has come to Jesus at some cost to his reputation as a synagogue leader, but he is willing to sacrifice everything to save his sick daughter.  I can relate to his desperation as a father of two daughters myself. Unfortunately his daughter, as we will find out, has already “crossed over“, but despite this difficult road that Jairus is about to walk down Jesus is with him and He has a plan.

On the way to heal Jairus’ daughter they are interrupted by another healing.  A woman with a chronic condition places her last hope in Jesus and His ability to heal her. She wades through the crowd, stretches out her hand, touches Jesus’ clothes, and is healed. This seems to happen without Jesus’ knowledge or consent which is a bit strange, funny water to be sure. Rather than losing our way in this turbulent water let’s push on toward Jesus’ explanation, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” So ultimately it was the woman’s faith, posture, and perspective that produced the outcome she desired.  It was where her heart was that enabled the healing.

This theological turbulence is about to become a class IV rapid when people from Jairus’ house arrive to tell them they are too late – his daughter is dead. Jesus reassures Jairus’ “Don’t be afraid; just believe”. I am sure that Jairus at this point was crushed and heartbroken and may have found it difficult to believe that God had his back.  Jesus asks that the disciples and the parents proceed alone to check on Jairus’ daughter as the wailing crowd at Jairus’ house laughs at the idea that “The child is not dead but asleep”.  Jesus proceeds into the girl’s room with her mother, father, and the disciples.  I am not sure why Jesus wanted this healing to be more intimate, but that is clearly the way He wanted it to happen.  Perhaps Jesus wanted this resurrection to be a powerful event for His disciples and the girl’s parents and knew that if the crowd was present it would become more like a performance.

Jesus closes out this passage by giving “strict orders not to let anyone know about this”.  This is part of the somewhat perplexing pattern of Jesus in the book of Mark of wanting his miracles to remain a secret, at least in the beginning of His ministry.  I have pondered this many times and I am comfortable with the explanation that Jesus wanted people to focus on their own hearts and souls rather than the healing itself.  He was looking for faithful followers willing to follow Him even when the path was not clear or difficult  – as was the case for Jairus and his wife.

Jesus was interested in resurrecting more than just Jairus’ daughter.  He wanted to resurrect the heart and soul of her parents and the disciples who were experiencing this event.  Don’t get me wrong, Jesus had great love and care for the girl, but the more difficult “healing” was for her parents.  They had to allow their hard hearts to be channeled toward God by this event. I think that is the focus that Jesus wants for them, and the disciples, rather than on the miracle itself.  There are miracles all around us for those that have eyes to see them, but the most important miracle is that we have a God who loves us and wants to lead us home.

Prayer: God thank You for loving us and making miracles all around us.  Help us to You in these miracles rather than the miracles themselves.

This entry was posted in Christianity, Death and Dying, Discipleship, Faith, Following God, God's Love for Us, Healing, Jesus, Mark, Miracles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Don’t be afraid; just believe

  1. Pingback: Walking on Water | Walking on Water

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