This morning I was reading through the story of Jesus healing of Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5. It is a story I have read many times before. Most of the times when I have read it in the past I have always placed a separation between the two healings that occur between verses 21 and 43. There is the healing of the woman who has been bleeding for 12 years and then there is Jairus’ daughter. The thing about this passage though, is that the two healings aren’t meant to be separate accounts, but one continuous account of Jairus’ encounter with Jesus.
The account starts off with Jesus crossing the sea only to be met by a great crowd that gathered around him. Among the crowd was a leader of the synagogue named Jairus. His status as a religious leader probably had something to do with how he was able to get through the crowds to speak with Jesus face to face. Unlike most of the other religious leaders, who resented Jesus and His teaching, Jairus comes and falls at Jesus’ feet imploring Him to come and heal his daughter who is about to die. Jesus agrees to go, and they begin the journey to Jairus’ home.
Imagine the feelings going through Jairus’ head. He had a huge sense of urgency. His daughter was on the verge of dying and every minute counted. The elation he must have felt when Jesus agreed to come with him. But there was one problem, the crowd.
I remember this past summer when our family was coming home from an overseas trip. Traveling with two children under the age of 8 is a challenge in and of itself. When you are arriving into the country at 11 pm, after being on planes for the precious 20 hours, and are facing an 11 hour layover overnight with kids whose internal clock tells them it is the middle of the day, it is even more daunting. Anticipating this, we decided to rent a car and just make the 8 hour drive home during the middle of the night. So, you can imagine the sense of urgency we had knowing that the rental car place was supposed to close at 12:30 am. We landed, rushed through the terminal and then arrived at immigration and customs. We could not believe the lines that late at night. I remember the way my heart dropped as I realized that there was absolutely no way the rental car place would still be open by the time we made it through that crowd. We didn’t make it through until after 1 am, but by the grace of God the car rental agency was still open, and we were able to make it home without further delay.
Now magnify that sense of urgency exponentially and you begin to understand the feeling Jairus was experiencing. As the crowd pushed in on Jesus, slowing their progress considerably, a woman who had a bleeding disorder that she had suffered from for the past 12 years pushed through the crowd. She thought, “I just need to touch Jesus’ garments and I will be healed.” She gets in close enough, touches Jesus robe, and is instantly healed! Well Jesus knows immediately what has happened, so He stops, addresses the crowd, and calls out to whoever touched Him. What was Jairus thinking now? The crowd is slowing their progress and now Jesus stops to deal with something else completely? Didn’t Jesus realize how urgent Jairus’ need was? Didn’t Jesus know they did not have the time for this? Not only does Jesus call out and wait for the woman to identify herself, He then has her tell Him her entire story. We aren’t told how long the woman spoke to Jesus, but you can bet that Jairus was wringing his hands the entire time. Then the unthinkable happened.
While Jesus was still speaking to the woman, someone from Jairus’ house arrives to announce that his daughter has died. What would you have done in Jairus’ shoes? Blame Jesus for being too slow? Cry out in your grief over the fact that Jesus seemed to have time for everyone else’s needs, but not for yours? Fallen at His feet in sorrow asking Jesus why this had happened? All of those would be reasonable responses. We aren’t told how Jairus reacted, but we are told that Jesus cut into the conversation and spoke directly to Jairus. It was a simple phrase, few in words but full of power. He said “Do not fear, only believe.” The book of Luke includes the phrase “and she will be well..” Excuse me? Did Jairus hear correctly? But his daughter had died. How did any of this make sense? So Jesus went to Jairus’ house, entered into the room where his daughter was, and told her to rise. And . . . the little girl immediately got up and began walking! What a miracle! Imagine the joy and relief flowing through Jairus at this point. Mark says that everyone was “immediately overcome with amazement.” That sounds like a bit of an understatement.
Can you relate to Jairus? Maybe it isn’t someone you love who is sick and dying, but maybe it is some other request that you have been continually laying at Jesus’ feet. Does it feel like He is taking His time in answering? Do you see other people having their requests answered while you feel that you are suffering through a terrible struggle? Do you find it hard to wait on the Lord? Do you wonder why He doesn’t seem to feel the same sense of urgency that you do? Waiting on the Lord is tough. We think we know what we need, when we need it, and how that need should be met.
The truth is that God is never late in accomplishing His purposes. Jairus would have had Jesus ignore that woman who had been suffering for 12 years in order to save his daughter, because he was solely focused on his own needs, wants, and desires. Jesus saw the bigger picture. He understood that even though it appeared to Jairus that He was slow to act, it was all timed out perfectly in Jesus eyes. Does God seem slow to act in your mind? Is it possible that God is in the middle of answering your prayer, but it will be in His timing and not your own? What if today, as you are waiting on the Lord, arguing with the Lord, crying out in frustration to the Lord for not answering your prayer, He is whispering in your ear “Do not fear, only believe.” Are you able to trust in the Lord? Are you willing to wait for His timing? Are you willing to allow Him to teach and grow you through the waiting? Remember the words of David in Psalm 27
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14