“One of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and begged him earnestly, ‘My little daughter is dying. Come and lay your hands on her so that she can get well and live.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
When was it that you finally cried out for help? For me, most recently, it was when we purchased a new TV stand for our living room. Looking at it on the Sam’s showroom floor it didn’t look all that big. It was swallowed up by the room. I figured I could manhandle it into the house. Once it was loaded in the back of my van straight from the forklift and in a box that filled every square inch of the cargo space, though, it became clear that was not going to happen. I cried for help. That was a pretty insignificant cry for help in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes in life we run up against walls entirely more intimidating than that. Who we reach out to in those moments matters.
Jairus was a parent who was desperate. His daughter was deathly ill and so he went to find her help. Everything about that story makes sense. And then you learn just a little bit more of its details and suddenly, almost nothing about it makes sense.
Jairus was a prominent member of his community there in Galilee. He was the leader of the synagogue. This would have been a position roughly equivalent to a senior pastor of a large church today. His job was to make sure all the functions of the synagogue were running smoothly. He would have also been tasked with making sure people in the synagogue were behaving according to the rules and expectations so that the cleanness of the whole group was not threatened. Word of anyone who didn’t do this or was a threat generally would have spread far and wide, and someone like Jairus would have been tasked with keeping them away from his flock.
In other words, someone like Jairus would have never had anything to do with someone like Jesus. No matter what his need was, Jesus would not have been the place he would have gone to see it addressed. The reasons for this were manifold. Jesus had made a habit of violating Sabbath law and often in a synagogue. He had on multiple occasions healed someone in the synagogue right there in front of the crowd. When confronted about this by the religious leaders, He was not only not repentant for His disobedience, He claimed to have authority over the Sabbath itself. Jesus was a problem to be dealt with, not a solution to be sought.
Except, his daughter was sick and at the point of death, and Jesus was a healer.
Surely, then, if Jairus was going to debase himself by going to Jesus in the first place, he would do it as unobtrusively as he possibly could. Yet look at how Mark describes his going here. He walks up to Jesus in the middle of a thronging crowd. There were people pressing up against Him on all sides. Jairus would have commanded enough respect that the waves of people parted for him.
That would have been a shock in and of itself, but what came next would have left everyone’s jaws on the ground in utter disbelief. Jairus fell on the ground at Jesus’ feet. Here was the president of the synagogue taking a position of utter subservience before this radical, troublemaking, blasphemous rabbi. He didn’t just fall at His feet, though, he began to beg and plead with Him to come and heal his daughter.
As the people realized who this was and what was happening, all movement and talking would have ground to a halt. The shock at what was taking place would have been profound. How could this man behave the way he was? This would have brought incredible shame to him and his family. This was simply not the way this kind of thing was handled by people like him.
And yet, this is precisely the kind of need that Jesus meets. Willingly and even eagerly. Jairus was about to find that out in the most powerful way he could imagine. For us, though, what he did and how he did it is instructive. He could have assumed on his position and sent someone to demand Jesus come to his house. He could have behaved like one who was somehow entitled to what Jesus could do. But he didn’t. He took up a position of absolutely humility. He recognized that his need was deep enough that protocol and image didn’t mater. So he went. And Jesus responded powerfully.
Jesus can bring the same power to our own lives. But if our posture isn’t like Jairus’, we shouldn’t expect much. I don’t mean we should fall at His feet and beg for help. That’s neither what He expects nor demands. Rather, we must go with a humility of spirit. We go with a profound awareness of who He is and who we are. We go with an acknowledgement of our need and His ability to meet it. And when we do, He will.
Now, that doesn’t mean He’s going to grant our every request if our plea is desperate enough. He’s not going to do the miracle we ask simply because we ask it. But when we need Him, He will come. He loves to come. He loves us. He will lift our spirits and meet our needs. We will find in Him satisfaction to our deepest desires. But only when we’re willing to acknowledge who He is and take Him on His own terms. Jairus was, and the results, as we’ll talk about in a couple of days, were pretty good.
So, what is your need? Go to Jesus and find your solution. This new year is a perfect time to get started.