People who met Jesus : 17 : Jairus
Lk 8:41,42 Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
Being a parent can be a mixed blessing. On one hand it can be one of the most wonderful things that can happen to you; on the other hand it can be a real heartache or a real worry. Yet as I weigh the pros and the cons, I know which side I come down on. I feel sad for those who choose to put career before having a family, and even more sad for those unable to have children. The truth is that children cost – they cost your whole being. As I watch my children with their children I wonder, oh my goodness, did I do this, did I lose my life for the sake of these as infants, for that IS what you do? Oh yes, there are those today who have children and then try to ignore them and then wonder why they have so many problems in the years that follow. No, having children is life giving; you give yourself for these new little people, and if you are wise, you keep on giving of your life and your time and your energy as it is needed for however long. If you are a real parent your heart will be totally knit with that of your child, which makes it all the more difficult when things go wrong.
And that brings us to Jairus. He is a respected member of the local community, one of the leaders in the local synagogue; he’s probably got a nice house and he has a daughter. It is quite probable (although we don’t know for sure if the practice had yet come about for Jewish boys and girls) that his daughter had recently, on becoming twelve, been welcomed in to the synagogue at her coming of age. He would, no doubt, have looked on his daughter with all the signs of her becoming a young woman in every sense. Yes, life had been good, and then suddenly something goes wrong. She is ill. He calls for the physicians but they seem to be able to do nothing. She declines. She is obviously very unwell. In fact, now, she looks like she is dying. The bottom is falling out of his world!
I can remember the times with our own children when we’ve had a crisis, when our son who was very young climbed (he was always climbing) onto the front gate and then pitched head first on to the pavement outside. In the rush to the hospital your prayer life takes a leap. At such times you feel utterly helpless. God, if you are there, can you turn up please for this little child. You pray and sometimes they get better – but sometimes it seems they don’t. You weep and you anguish. Jairus is probably at this stage – and then Jesus turns up in town.
Now he has a dilemma. He is a respected leader of Judaism as a synagogue leader, one who is supposed to be an example to the community. What does he know of this itinerant preacher who seems most unorthodox? He’s heard that has upset a number of the teachers of the Law and seems to disdain the religious orthodoxy of the Pharisees. Yes, they say he heals people, but surely I can’t go to him. But then love kicks in, love for his daughter. At that point all the niceties of local social customs and expectations go out the window! My daughter is dying and no one here seems to be able to help. Maybe, just maybe, this travelling preacher might be able to help. The stories they tell of his ‘miracles’ are incredible. If half of them are true, then there is hope!
He goes to where Jesus is and, in desperation and anguish falls before him, pleading for him to come and heal his daughter. Jesus smiles and says, yes of course, and Jairus leads the way. The crowds are thick but Jairus only has his thoughts on the little woman back at home who looked so pale and weak when he left the house. We must hurry. But then there is some confusion and Jesus seems to have stopped. Oh no, what is going on? He’s looking round the crowd and asking “Who touched me?” Jesus, there are hundreds of people here; dozens of people will have touched you. But a woman comes forward and he speaks to her, smiles again and then turns backs to Jairus. “Sorry, Jairus, just something I had to attend to.” Yes, I know it’s not there in the text of your Bible but surely that’s the sort of thing that probably happened.
They start off again, pushing through the crowd only to find one of the servants from his house pushing towards them from the opposite direction. He brings bad news: “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.” (v.49) His heart breaks. He was too late. If only I could have got Jesus to come earlier. As if reading his thoughts, Jesus reached out a reassuring arm and quietly said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” (v.50). What? But she’s dead! Didn’t Jesus hear what the servant said? But then as he looks into Jesus eyes he sees something there that makes him stop. There is total confidence, total assurance – and it’s catching! Can it be that he can even raise the dead? He quickly leads them on. His mind is full of doubts and questions.
When they get to the home everyone is weeping and wailing for the loss of the little one. Jairus looks at Jesus questioningly. “She is not dead but asleep,” the preacher says. (v.52) Again there is total confidence, total assurance and it is believable. Jairus takes Jesus up to the little girl’s room. Jesus walked over to the body and tenderly took hold of one of her hands. “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.” (v.54,55) Tears were now pouring down Jairus’s face. The disciples with Jesus were also weeping with big smiles. Jairus didn’t know what to do or say. Perhaps you might like get her some food, Jesus suggested. Jairus called for his wife and servants. Tears turned to tears. Tears of anguish turned to tears of joy. It was a time for celebration.
Now yes, I have made some assumptions in telling this story but I think they are all reasonable ones that just fill in the gaps of the simple Gospel accounts. This is a story of anguish that turned to joy. I have sought to get us into the mind and feelings of Jairus. When this sort of thing happens to us, we too know anguish. We too know the sense of helplessness and we too will take whatever help is there. Let’s make sure it is God’s help for nothing less will do. That surely has got to be one of the main and obvious lessons from this story. Jesus is totally in control and can be there for us in this Fallen World where things go wrong. But he’s not only there for the crisis times; he’s always there for us!