1997-11-29 - Pride for Lunch
Luke 8:41-42a And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus' feet, and began to entreat Him to come to his house; 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. (NAS)
Let's try to put ourselves in Jairus' place for just a minute here. His young daughter is gravely ill, near death. Jairus is well-known in the community as a teacher, counselor and man of faith. The itinerant Rabbi was strictly to be avoided, off limits according to the leadership in Jerusalem. To meet him or have anything to do with him was to be required to explain yourself, in the very least. It could easily mean to be excommunicated. They were dead serious about it.
But there were also stories, supposedly true ones from good sources, that this Jesus had the power to heal. There were other very interesting tales surrounding this man. Some of which were just too wild to be true. If it were not for the fact that this edict had come down from the top, Jairus might have liked to have at least met this Rabbi and talked with him.
But now he, who was the pillar of strength to the community, was in need of strength beyond his reach. His only daughter was dying and all the prayers he could muster were not changing a thing. All the kind words, which were meant to comfort, only drove the point deeper into his heart. She was slipping away from him like sand through his fingers. God's gift to his heart was being recalled.
Luke 8:42b-44 But as He went, the multitudes were pressing against Him. 43 And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him, and touched the fringe of His cloak; and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. (NAS)
He had to choose. A moment of destiny for himself, his family and his daughter. If this man could heal his daughter and he did not try, he would never be able to forgive himself. The leadership would understand, maybe. And if they did not and he was thrown out, he would still have his beloved child. With that he swallowed his pride and decided. He closed the books on his desk, got up and fairly ran out the door.
The people who had decided to come and see this Jesus were stunned to see one of the leaders in the synagogue there too. They had heard of the letter from the temple leaders, too. Some knew of his situation at home. As Jesus entered the town the large crowd parted slightly and Jairus and Jesus were face-to-face. Jairus in his fine robes and Jesus in his garments covered with dust from the journey. Everything he had thought to say at their meeting fled Jairus' mind. He managed a brief hello and half choked out the words he dreaded. "My daughter is dying. Please come to my home and touch her."
He controlled the plea in his voice as much as possible, but it was there. There was no pause in the Rabbi at all. His head tilted slightly to one side as he said, "Of course, please lead the way." Hope flowed in, hope which had been dripping out like sand from an hourglass. He said he would come, and He didn't say He couldn't do it! Jairus struggled to lead the way through the crowd when suddenly he heard Jesus speak. Who touched me?" A delay. Not now. We have to go. I'll bring Him back. My daughter, my child is so sick. Please! He knew the woman he spoke with as well. Her situation was well-known. An unstoppable bleeding that had lately begun to take its toll on her. The doctors said that she also was dying.
He wanted to barge in and break it up, but the compassion that this Jesus had shown him, he now also showed this poor woman. No condemnation at all, and there had been fear in her voice and her eyes when she had admitted her actions. The same fear that gripped Jairus' heart as he met the Rabbi. The very same.
The delay was only minutes. Jairus was stunned at the man's power to heal and by the gentle power in Jesus' words and his gaze. The miracle he had just witnessed was almost lost on him in his own need. Then he saw two men coming from his home. He could tell by the look in their eyes, they had horrible news that they would have given anything not to have to deliver. As they met, Jairus steeled himself for the news but it crushed him all the same. His only daughter was dead, beyond help now. The sliver of hope that had swelled inside him was in ashes.
Jesus reached up and put his hand on his shoulder. Jairus looked up expecting pity and saw power and love. "Don't be afraid, only believe."
Luke 8:52-53 Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, "Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep." 53 And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. (NAS)
The hired mourners all wore sad faces and tears flowed liberally. Their mock tears ate at Jairus'. Their presence had been arranged. Yet they knew no pain in his daughter's death. When Jesus instructed them to stop crying they did. When Jesus told them the little girl was only sleeping they mocked Him. They railed on Him and jeered Him. They knew dead, they had seen dead and she was. How unfair of you to raise this man's hope. How dare you insult us like that? With a single word of command He sent the mourners packing. The authority in that voice made Jairus' hair on the back of his neck stand to attention. Silence again reigned where there had been wailing before.
Luke 8:54-56 He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, "Child, arise!" 55 And her spirit returned, and she rose immediately; and He gave orders for something to be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened. (NAS)
Jesus took a few of his friends and Jairus into the house. Jairus' wife looked up from beside the still form of her child to her husband. The pain in her eyes was staggering. When she saw Jairus, she did not see the broken father she expected to see. And she saw his companions and was very confused. "Dear, this is Rabbi Jesus who we have all heard so much about. He has agreed to come and heal our daughter."
She stood up slowly, half in shock at the words. Could it be? She walked toward her husband as Jesus walked toward the mat that held the young girl. Jesus touched her arm as they passed and looked at her with promise and hope in His eyes. She continued over to her husband. Her mouth opened to speak but words would not come. She quietly turned and looked as Jesus knelt beside her child.
Jesus picked up her cool hands and held them for just a second. The term He used was a term of endearment. Jairus would be later struck by the irony that though they had never met, Jesus showed a genuine caring for this little girl. "Princess, time to get up." There was no lightning or event of any kind. There was a brief pause. Was that a breath she took? Fighting with his unbelief Jairus stared as his daughter's eyelids fluttered and opened. She sat up, and then stood. Jesus smiled widely at her and gestured her to her parents.
Her mother met her halfway across the floor with a hug. Immediately she checked her daughter's forehead and cheeks. The burning heat that had radiated was no longer there. It was as if she had never been ill. Before Jairus could gain his wits Jesus asked that they see to it that their daughter had something to eat. It was as if He had somehow known she hadn't eaten for several days.
Jairus walked over to Jesus and grabbed both arms and shook them for joy. He hugged Jesus and kissed His cheeks and thanked him from a grateful heart. "Can I do anything for you? I could arrange for you to speak at the synagogue on the Sabbath if you would like? I could arrange for you to meet the leaders of the city? Anything, name it, please." The compassionate smile turned to Jairus and said, "Let's keep this between ourselves, and you are very welcome." It was a knowing smile too. Jesus would do nothing to further endanger Jairus' livelihood or reputation with his leadership. He had gone way out on a limb, stretching his faith for his family. Jesus would honor that. He quickly said His goodbyes and left as the girl snacked on bread and honey with something to drink. He waved from the doorway with his companions. He was gone, leaving the family in wonder.
"How do you keep this a secret?", Jairus wondered. A miracle happens before your eyes, restores something this precious to you and then you tell no one? It would not be a surprise to me if the family had thrown a block party in celebration.
Jairus swallowed his professional and personal pride to meet Jesus. When he did so, Jesus was able to restore His only daughter to him and her family. How many times do we prevent Jesus from helping us by not swallowing our pride and going to Him? Sometimes it takes getting down to were there is nothing else left to hold on to before we do. There are times when we look back and say, "if only I had. We waited too long." Jairus abandoned himself to Jesus, as did the woman with the bleeding. Both knew desperation, and both knew redemption from their hopeless plights. They had both reached beyond what they knew to be possible, literally throwing themselves into the dark and trusting Jesus to catch them. What does it take to get you to that point?
Lord Jesus, I am not sure why we have to be squeezed into terrible positions before we will relent and come to You. It is pride or fear on our parts. It is so easy to let these creep in and come between ourselves and You. The old nature chafes against the idea of our total helplessness. And yet, deep down we know it is true. It is a powerful comfort to know that You will be there walking with us through those dark valleys that will come. Help us to reach out before it becomes dark, so You can strengthen us against those times and for Your service. Amen.
Grace & Peace,