Saturday, August 6, 2011
Preface: A young 12-year-old girl was on the verge of death. She was the daughter of a synagogue ruler named Jairus. Most of the religious leaders in Judea were furious with Jesus at this point in his ministry and had begun to discuss what to do with him. There had already been an attempt to shove Jesus off a cliff after he taught in his hometown synagogue. The accusations of blasphemy by the Pharisees and teachers of the law grew daily. We don't know if Jairus was actively involved in this angry reaction. If he had been, it is easy to see how the possibility of losing his only child might bring about a drastic change of heart. Regardless, Jesus did not discriminate among those who needed help. He had mercy on a synagogue president's family who became recipients of one of his most dramatic miracles.
Jairus' wife tells her side of the story:
"I will never, ever forget the day I met Jesus. Our home was filled with family, friends and public mourners crying and wailing because my darling daughter had just died in my arms. Throughout her lingering illness, I felt so helpless, with nowhere to turn.
"The stories of Jesus the healer were widespread. Someone told me he had raised a woman's son from the dead. I desperately wanted to find him. But it would have been impossible for me, as the wife of our town's chief synagogue officer, to seek out Jesus on my own. I wasn't even permitted to walk the city streets alone, much less search for a maverick teacher. This would have brought the ultimate embarrassment to my husband, Jairus.
"And because Jairus was prominent in the synagogue, he himself had reason to think twice about going to Jesus. Pharisees, priests and teachers of the law from all around had labeled Jesus as a blasphemous trouble-maker. They wanted a reason to arrest him and stop his growing popularity. So how could Jairus dare ask Jesus for help? Yet on that horrible day, as he watched our precious daughter grow paler and weaker, gasping for breath, he could no long restrain himself. Synagogue ruler or not, he had to find the miracle worker. It was our last hope. When Jairus finally found Jesus, he fell at his feet, pleading for the life of our only child.
"Waiting for Jairus to return felt like an eternity. I wondered if Rabbi Jesus would really come to help a little girl. Most rabbis had no time for females, young or old, and viewed us as a distraction from the more important things in life. As these thoughts ran through my mind, I glanced down at my daughter, then watched as she drew her last breath. I rocked her back and forth in my arms, stroking her hair, her tunic soaked with my tears. I screamed her name, begging her to come back to me. But she was beyond the reach of my voice. I held onto her for a long time, then carefully laid her on the bed. I gently closed her eyes and caressed her face with my hand. The suffering was over and she looked so peaceful, as though she were asleep. A servant left immediately to tell Jairus.
"It wasn't long before I heard a man's voice rise above the chaotic mourning and wailing, asking the crowd in the adjoining room why they were causing such a noisy commotion. He said my daughter was just sleeping. Everyone laughed at him. Then he told them all to leave the house. I welcomed the quiet that followed.
"Jairus and I held onto each other, standing next to three of Jesus' disciples as the healer leaned over the bed and tenderly took my daughter's small hand in his. Then, with endearing affection, he said to her: 'My little one, I say to you, rise up!' She began to stir. Her eyes opened and Jesus, still holding her hand, lifted her to a sitting position. She immediately got off the bed and walked around a little disoriented. When she saw us, she ran into my open arms. I held onto her, my tears of sorrow turned to joy. Jairus wrapped his arms tightly around us both.
"Not missing a single detail, Jesus, knowing our child was weak and hungry after her ordeal, then smiled and said, 'Well, give her something to eat!' Elated at this startling turn of events, we scurried around trying to find her favorite foods.
"Jairus and I were deeply humbled by the impartial goodness of Jesus. With just one gracious touch of his hand, He restored jubilant life into our home, the home of a synagogue president, showing mercy we did not deserve."
Matthew 9:18-19; 23-26; Mark 5:22-24; 35-43; Luke 8:41-42; 49-56
(c) Joyce Catherwood 2011