Now Jesus has just returned from some fairly heavy ministry amongst a group of people who were, in the opinion of the religious leaders of the day, way outside God’s influence, concern and mercy.
Luke 8:40-56 (focusing on 40-42)
40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”
50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.
Jesus had been over in the gentile region of Gerasenes on the other side of the lake of Galilee where he cast our evil spirits in a spectacular fashion from a poor man controlled by demons. The response from the people of that place was to tell Jesus to leave.
Now he comes back to familiar territory and he is welcomed, expected and meets a crushing crowd; two people in great need stand out from that crowd. The first one we meet is Jairus, a synagogue leader.
What an awful state he is in. His only daughter, who is about 12 years, old is dying. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in that position. It is a very sad situation when our children die before we do. It’s a reverse of how things should be in the world. It’s a stark reminder that we live in a world gone wrong.
In the midst of his tragedy, we see a beautiful posture that this, small ‘l’, leader takes in response to Jesus. He falls at Jesus’ feet in a posture of worship, surrender and vulnerability. He discards any sense of his own position, or importance, and simply displays his raw need to Jesus and his faith in him. What a contrast Jairus’ posture is in comparison with those of the other, big ‘L’, leaders that Jesus encounters amongst the scribes and Pharisees.
The state of Israel is one of sickness just like this little girl. It needs more than healing; it needs a whole new life, a new state of being that only Jesus can provide through his death and resurrection. And it needs leaders who will recognise and trust Jesus like this Jairus.
We will see up ahead just how well things end up for Jairus and his daughter. At this point, he appears to be worshipping Jesus out of a great need he has – his dying daughter. I wonder what the rest of his journey with Jesus was like? Did he remain following Jesus after his daughter’s life was restored. Did she then follow Jesus?
Often people start their journey with Jesus because of a felt need – an illness, a need for a job, relationship problems etc.—and sometimes when that need is fulfilled they fall away. However, our biggest need is the sin within all of us, and our disconnection from our heavenly father. And, often, this is a need some people don’t readily ‘feel’ until the consequences start showing up; although that might not be until after we die when we find ourselves cut off from God’s mercy and eternally estranged from him.
May we never forget our biggest problem and the costly solution to that problem that Jesus bought for us on the cross. And may we continue to trust in Jesus despite what other needs get met or not.
Head: When things get desperate in your life do you come to Jesus the way Jairus did here?
Heart: How do you feel and what do you do when Jesus doesn’t meet a felt need in your life? Are you able to trust that he still loves you and is in control of your life?
Hands: What might need to change in the way you pray knowing that your greatest need – the forgiveness of your sin – has been met by Jesus?
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank-you for this passage and others like it where we see the love and concern Jesus had for ordinary everyday people whom he encountered during his ministry. We are thrilled to see the outcomes for these two ‘little’ people who came to Jesus with great needs. It is reassuring that Jesus is in control of all things including illness and death. We thank-you we can trust him with all aspects of our lives in the here and now. We especially thank you that Jesus met our greatest need for forgiveness of our sin and made a way for us to come home to you.
A song to listen to: Bring Us Back
Tim Hewlett- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina