"On His return, Jesus was welcomed by a crowd. They were all there expecting Him. A man came up, Jairus by name. He was president of the meeting place. He fell at Jesus' feet and begged Him to come to his home because his twelve-year-old daughter, his only child, was dying. Jesus went with him, making His way through the pushing, jostling crowd." Luke 8:40-42 (The Message).
This is part one of a twofold story.
The first person introduced was a man with a name and a pedigree. He was Jairus, an important person in the community. He had a title and a function - he was in charge of the local synagogue where the townspeople met every Sabbath for worship and the reading of the Word of God. It was also probably the venue for the local school where the boys were taught to read and write and study the Torah.
Was Jairus part of the group of religious leaders who rejected Jesus' claim to be the Messiah? Was he one of those who were quick to jump on Him for breaking the Sabbath? We don't know. Luke not only identifies him as a religious ruler but also as a desperate father. Whatever religious scruples he had, fell away when his circumstances spun out of control.
His only child was dying. He knew that there was no doctor who could do anything for her. There was only one man who could help him, who had the reputation for having authority over demons, disease and death and who had healed many sick people in his own town. When Jesus, to his great relief, put in an appearance just when he needed Him, he wasted no time in hurrying to get help.
At the very moment when Jairus was putting his urgent request before Jesus, there was another needy person in the crowd, pushing her way towards Him.
"In the crowd that day there was a woman who, for twelve years, had been afflicted with haemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but no one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus' robe." Luke 8:43-44 (The Message).
The contrast between these two people could not have been greater. Jairus was an important man; the woman was not even named. Jairus was a religious man; she was a despised and unclean woman. His little daughter was the child of probably the most important man in the town; the woman was nobody. Strangely enough, for every day that the little girl was growing up in her parents' home, healthy, cherished and no doubt pampered, the woman was living a lonely life of suffering, an outcast and unclean; twelve years of living lives that were worlds apart.
Now the little girl was on the brink of death while the woman was dying slowly. Both she and Jairus needed Jesus. Which one needed Him the most? Which situation was the most critical? Which one would get His attention first? Had it been one of us who had to make the choice, we would probably have told the woman to wait while we attended to Jairus' child because her need was the most urgent. The woman was alive and walking; the child was dying.
This story is a masterpiece of revelation. Although Luke may have borrowed the record from Mark, the story itself is a mirror of the heart of Jesus. He did not have to make a choice. As we read on, Jesus took the events in His stride. He did not stop and weigh up whose need was greater. He dealt with each situation as it arose. To Jesus, neither need was a crisis, not even the child's imminent death.
In our lives, situations arise which we view as crises and which throw us into a panic. We rush off to Jesus and breathlessly beg Him to come immediately, forgetting that He is already there and that He is fully aware of every detail, even more than we are. What should be our attitude when we call on Him in desperate moments like these?
Jesus Himself gives us the answer: 'Don't be afraid; just believe...'"
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