35 While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”
36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 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. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Again, a well-known passage that many of us have read, and been blessed by. Thematically, here we see a continuing revelation of Jesus’ identity, this time, his Lordship over death itself. This is important not to minimize, as raising from the dead was not a common miracle. But for me, something minor stands out from the passage – Jairus. As a father, I place myself in Jairus’ shoes/sandals and try to imagine how he must have felt when he approached Jesus about healing his dying daughter.
I would have felt anxious to find Jesus, and then hopeful that Jesus could save her. But I would feel incredulous when Jesus turned around to ask a crowd of people “Who touched me?” – my daughter is dying, and you ask a question like that? Anger at Jesus’ delay, and wild desperation as I know my daughter is getting closer to death. And then, shock at hearing that my child has died, and that others are already mourning her. A grief that I hope I never have to experience, ever, and finally, a deep discouragement as my “friends” tell me to leave Jesus alone.
After all of this, Imagine what Jairus’ faith looked like at this point – battered and traumatized. But Jesus says simply, “Don’t be afraid – just believe”. And so Jairus summons up whatever faith he has left, his tiny, beat-up, grieving faith, and follows Jesus through the door…and sees a miracle, a rare one even by biblical standards. Jairus’ faith was not strong, it was not perfect, but clearly it was enough.
I think this passage brings us back to the idea of faith. We have this concept that our faith in God must be unassailable and flawless if we are to see God at work, that we can never have any doubt in the least. But this passage reminds us that our faith need not be perfect. We don’t need all the answers. We don’t have to feel emotionally fine and dandy. Our faith may be worn thin, small, even dying, but whatever state it is in, bring it through the door and let God do what he does. After all, even a mustard seed can become a great tree.
1. Take some time to describe the state of your faith.
2. Have you ever had an experience where you know your faith was not perfect, but you still experienced God’s blessings?
3. Is there a situation in your life where you feel your faith is not adequate? How does this passage change your perspective on that situation?
4. What’s important about faith is not that it is perfect, but that we put it to use. In the situation from question 3, what ways can you take a step out in faith?