JAIRUS: Faith tested and rewarded

While a large crowd gathers, Jairus, the synagogue ruler, approaches Jesus boldly. He puts aside all dignity and pride, falls at Jesus’ feet, and pleads with him for his dying daughter. (Mt 9:18-26; Mk 5:21-43 Lk 8:40-56)

Because Jesus is a controversial figure, Jairus risks his own reputation among his peers, but none of that matters—he is desperate. “Please, come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Jairus believes that God is somehow at work in Jesus.

Jesus responds by going with him. But on the way to Jairus’ house … there’s an interruption. Jesus stops. The entire crowd stops. Jesus takes time for another needy person—the bleeding woman (more on her later). Who knows how long this delay takes, perhaps at least thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, can you feel the tension inside Jairus? Jesus is on the way to his house to heal his young daughter who is near death. There’s no time to spare. But now Jesus stops to interact with someone else.

No doubt, Jairus fears that Jesus will not get there in time. The interruption tests his faith. And the tension is about to intensify. Some men show up from Jairus’ house with a message, “Your daughter has died. Never mind bothering Jesus.”

His heart drops. His worst fear has now happened. So many thoughts: “If only we’d gotten there sooner.” “If only we hadn’t stopped for that woman.”

Jesus looks at Jairus and says, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”

Why does Jesus say this? What would Jairus be afraid of? He would be afraid to get his hopes up again and then be disappointed. At one time he did believe that Jesus could heal his daughter. But now there’s a finality to death that requires a lot more faith. Jairus is afraid to keep believing.

We all know how he feels. You and I have been there too. We’ve experienced many deaths: the death of a dream, the death of a marriage or another relationship, the death of youth, the death of an opportunity. Something has been snatched away from us. And there’s a finality to it. We want to believe that it can be restored, but it seems so irreversible that we’re afraid. to. believe.

Jairus gets reassurance. Jesus is not backing out, he’s not renegotiating on lesser terms. He pushes the boundary lines of Jairus’ faith, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

So Jairus keeps walking with Jesus. He doesn’t walk away. He doesn’t walk ahead. He doesn’t tell Jesus, “Never mind, but thanks anyway.” He walks in step with Jesus, believing against all odds, that Jesus is willing and able to heal the one he loves.

When Jesus arrives at Jairus’ house, the customary mourners are there, crying and wailing loudly. After he sends everyone out of the house, he enters with the child’s parents and three of his disciples.

Jesus approaches her lifeless body, puts her cold hand in his, and speaks tenderly, yet authoritatively, “Talitha koum.” This is Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and first century Jews. It means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”

Immediately her life and strength return to her. She stands up and walks around. The reaction in the room is complete astonishment at the power and authority of Jesus—he is more than a healer.

What is the message for the reader today? The virtue highlighted here is faith. Jairus demonstrates his faith by coming to Jesus in the midst of a hopeless situation. His faith is tested by the interruption. But because of the delay, he’s rewarded with a greater miracle. He witnesses his daughter being brought back from the dead.

We learn that God is never in a hurry and he’s never late. There’s no such thing as an interruption with God—or a delay. His loving attention to one person does not negate or delay his attention to another.

We see in Jairus that he had both faith and fear. But he did not let his fear immobilize him. He kept walking with Jesus. He stayed close, and he stayed the course.

Within each one of us is a mixture of faith and fear. God wants to strengthen our faith and diminish our fears. How will he do this? He will test our faith in the area of our fears.

What are the fears in your life that God wants to turn to faith? Has there been a delay in the answer to a specific prayer? Are you growing weary and afraid to keep believing? Have you been told like Jairus was, “Don’t bother Jesus any more; it’s too late.

A request delayed does not mean a request denied. Keep walking with Jesus. Don’t run away or run ahead. Stay close, and stay the course. Don’t be afraid to believe what God will do in your situation. Don’t be afraid; just believe.

I’d love to hear your insights on Jairus. In my next blog, I’ll cover the bleeding woman.

6 comments to JAIRUS: Faith tested and rewarded

  • Ethan

    Powerful story. Thank you for unpacking it the way you did. Great biblical truth for all to remember. I will be thinking and praying about this biblical truth the next few days.

  • Anna

    Thank you for encouragement to keep going, to keep in step with Jesus and not to give up!

    • Hi Anna, Glad to see you on the blog. Another lesson that I love from this story: it was not the little girl’s faith that healed her. It was the faith of one who loved her and who pleaded earnestly on her behalf. We all have people in our lives who need a touch from God. Who are we interceding for, pleading earnestly with Jesus on their behalf? Our friends and loved ones need our prayers.

  • Paige King

    Hi Janet, this post has been up on my computer for several days now. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  • Amy Calvetti

    I’m glad I saved this post to read later. This is the theme of our women’s retreat this March. It’s something I needed to hear. Thank you for sharing.