Prepare to listen. Sit still, take a few deep breaths then pray: Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. (Psalm 25:4)
Read Mark 5:35-43
35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
When the woman, a nobody in her society, approached Jesus ‘with fear and trembling,’ he ignored her fear and commended her faith. When Jairus, a man of high standing, fearlessly approached Jesus, he was commanded, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’
He wasn’t afraid to ask a favor of Jesus; but, he was afraid for his little daughter who was ‘at the point of death,’ and then, perhaps because of the woman’s interruption, died. Was he going to listen to the friends from home who gave him the news and said, ‘Why trouble the teacher any further’? Overhearing them, Jesus rebuked Jairus, commanding his command: ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He graciously continued the journey to Jairus’ home, taking only three of his disciples, Peter, James and John.
When they arrived they saw a ‘commotion.’ The customary professional mourners were already ‘weeping and wailing loudly,’ singing with musical instruments and hand clapping. They got paid to mourn and probably weren’t happy when Jesus told them the little daughter wasn’t dead. They laughed at him. In response, Jesus ‘put them all outside.’ He allowed only the parents and his three disciples to witness what he would do. Jesus was never interested in attracting people through amazing miracles. The miracle, as amazing as it was, isn’t intended to be the center of attention, therefore Mark hints at something more significant for reflection.
First, the use of the word daughter, suggest the two stories belong together. It’s used of both Jairus’ child, a ‘little daughter’ and the woman, whom Jesus named ‘daughter.’ Second, the number 12 is common with both the woman, who suffered with haemorrhages for 12 years, and the little daughter who was 12 years old. Twelve is a significant symbolic number, both for Israel (12 tribes) and the church (12 disciples, who became the foundation upon which Christ built his church). The two stories of healing and restoration to life points to the full restoration of all God’s people, both Israel and the Church and ultimately all creation. This is another of Mark’s subtle hints that, in the end, Jesus wins the battle over the Satan. It’s one more reason to reject the fear-mongering of political and religious pundits and live in bold faith of Jesus’ victory. We too need to heed Jesus’ command to Jairus: ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ Stand up and resist the culture of fear, refuse to live a life dictated by fear and instead, live in confidence of Jesus’ ultimate victory, with a faith that is unafraid to show compassion to the ‘least’ in our culture.
What makes you most fearful today? How is it dictating how you live? What do you need so that you can take to heart Jesus’ command, ‘Do not fear, only believe’?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Compassionate Lord, help me live today as one who lets belief not fear dictate what I do. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world with belief not fear.