Luke8v40to56: JAIRUS' DAUGHTER

(A) Introduction (Read the passage.) See also Mark5v21to43 and Mt8v18to26.

There are many ways this wonderful and moving story can be dealt with. It reveals much about Jesus - about his personality, procedures, priorities and power. It shows how Jesus coped in a crisis. Once again I will use Mark as my main source.

(B) Christ's commitment.

(1) Faith counts.

Jairus the ruler of the synagogue exercised much faith in coming to Jesus, falling at his feet and pleading: "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." Mk5v23. In response we read: So Jesus went with him.

Jairus could have sent representatives to Jesus. His daughter was dying after all and surely his place as a loving father was by her side. But Jarius really believed Jesus could heal her and realised that the best way to ensure the Saviour's help was to approach him direct.

Jesus always commits himself to those who put their faith in him. I think most of us respond in the same sort of way. Faith inspires commitment. When I was a teacher I worked harder, more enthusiastically and with greater confidence with those pupils who had faith in me. I never achieved very much with boys and girls who did not trust me. There was one place even Jesus could perform few miracles and that was Nazareth. He could not do any miracles there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Mk6v5and6.

It is well worth remembering that the amount Jesus does in us and through us will be in direct proportion to our faith.

(2) We don't walk alone.

It is a comfort in the troubles of life to have a companion by your side. The writer of Ecclesiastes recognised this: Two are better than one .... . If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up! Ecc4v10. See exposition on loneliness

The Christian is never completely alone. I love the hymn, 'How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,' based on the quotation from Deuteronomy 31v6 found in Hebrews: He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb13v5.

          Fear not, I am with thee, O, be not dismayed;
          I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid:
          I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
          Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

          The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
          I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
          That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
          I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake!

What a wonderful hymn! How passionately I sing: I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake!

(3) Something experienced.

Very many have experienced Christ's commitment in time of trouble and testing. Paul wrote to Timothy from prison: At my first defence, no-one came to my support but everyone deserted me. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength. 2Tim4v16.

I can remember on a couple of occasions during my career as a teacher being invited into the headmaster's study because of parental complaints. I was told I could bring a friend in with me! I invited Jesus to come in with me! It was the best decision I could have made.

I read a moving account in one of Pastor Alan Carr's sermons of Christ's commitment to a Christian standing in the greatest need of it. In 1871, tragedy struck Chicago as fire ravaged the city. When it was finally extinguished, the fire had taken over 300 lives and had left some 100,000 homeless. A man by the name of Horatio Gates Spafford was one of those who tried to help the people of the city get back on their feet. Spafford, a Chicago lawyer, who had invested heavily into the downtown area, lost everything as a result of that fire. More tragically, Spafford had also suffered the loss his only son just a year earlier. Still, for two years Spafford assisted the homeless, impoverished, grief-stricken and others ruined by the fire.

After about two years of such work, Spafford and his family decided to take a vacation. They were to go to England to join Moody and Ira Sankey on one of their evangelistic crusades, then travel in Europe. Horatio Spafford was delayed by some business, but sent his family on ahead. He would catch up to them on the other side of the Atlantic.

Their ship, the Ville de Havre, never made it. Off Newfoundland, it collided with an English sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and sank within 20 minutes. Though Horatio's wife, Anna, was able to cling to a piece of floating wreckage (one of only 47 survivors among hundreds), their four daughters Maggie, Tanetta, Annie, and Bessie were killed. Horatio received a horrible telegram from his wife, only two words long: "Saved alone."

Spafford boarded the next available ship to be near his grieving wife. When the ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, Spafford penned these precious words:

            When peace, like a river attendeth my way,
            When sorrows like sea billows roll.
            Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
            It is well, it is well, with my soul.

            Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come,
            Let this blest assurance control,
            That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
            And hath shed His own blood for my soul!

Spafford would never have penned the words of the hymn we love so well if Jesus had not stood at his side and given him strength.

(C) Christ's reassurance.

Jairus needed the reassuring words of Jesus: "Don't be afraid .... just believe." Mk5v36. Jesus had been delayed and Jairus was so eager for Jesus to go quickly to the house where his little daughter was dying. Then comes the last message he wished to hear: "Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher any more?" Mk5v35. There is something offensive about this message. It displays lack of sympathy both for Jairus and Jesus. One cannot help feeling that the men who came from the house of Jairus disapproved of the ruler of the synagogue having anything to do with the controversial prophet from Nazareth. Today, my country is not lacking people of this persuasion! It is significant that Mark informs us that Jesus ignored what the messengers said but did reassure Jairus.

There are times in life we need to hear Jesus say: "Don't be afraid .... just believe." I have a sermon Campbell Morgan preached on Jairus' daughter. In it the eminent Bible teacher referred to the time nearly 40 years before that he lost his first born little lassie. He continued: She has been with Him for ALL those years as we measure time here, and I have missed her every day; but his word, 'JUST BELIEVE' has been the strength of all the passing years.

(D) Christ's priority

Jesus exhibited tremendous strength of character in three respects:

    (a) He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. Mk5v37.

    (b) After he put them (the mourners) all out ..... v40.

    (c) He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this. v43. (The girl's miraculous healing.)

It could not have been easy to stop the crowd following Jesus - they wanted very much to see what transpired - as did the rest of the disciples. The mourners would have been very, very reluctant to leave Jairus' house. They thought it was their right to be there. It was also the livelihood of some of them. Finally, how could those who had witnessed an amazing and touching miracle not tell others about it. The crowd and mourners would be very eager to know what had occurred.

This incident shows the very considerable authority Jesus had. Anyone who has tried to control a curious crowd will know how hard it is to get them to do what they don't want to do!

We need to explain why Jesus behaved in the way he did. Some would say he was being something of a spoilsport. It certainly wasn't good public relations. Consider how a modern day healer or tele-evangelist would manage things. If the healer was sure he could raise the dead a huge invited audience would be present including medical experts, journalists and TV crew.

I believe Jesus shunned publicity over healing the sick because the excitement and growing demand this engendered interfered with his teaching ministry.

We are inclined to value those who heal our bodies far more highly than teachers. Doctors and dentists command far higher salaries and have more status than teachers. However, Jesus was primarily a teacher. When the Master appeared to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb she called him, "Teacher" not "Healer" - although she had been delivered from seven demons. Jesus' priority was to teach his disciples and thereby prepare them for that time when they would be his witnesses.

Christians should not underestimate the value of a sound Bible teacher. I am afraid we do here in England. Most ministers are paid a pittance. I know tight-fisted Christians who think the preacher should not be paid at all. Indeed a minority give the impression that they should be paid to listen!!!

But I think there was another reason why Jesus dismissed the crowd. The healing of Jairus' daughter was not a spectacle. Jesus was not motivated by a desire to impress the masses. Jesus did this miracle for the sake of Jairus and his wife - to restore their beloved daughter to them. It was essentially a private thing. Today, Jesus does not bring back from the dead the dearly loved children of Christian parents - nor does he usually miraculously cure a terminally ill child - but he is still able by the Spirit to provide comfort, reassurance and strength. This ministry remains an intensely private matter.

(E) Christ's perspective.

When Jesus got to the home of Jairus and found the mourners there he said to them: "Why all this commotion and wailing. The child is not dead but asleep." Mk5v39.

There are two things to note about the reaction of Jesus:

(1) A wrong attitude to death.

The mourners must have been hanging around outside Jairus' house like vultures waiting for a stricken animal to die. As soon as the little girl's death was announced the professional mourners sprang into action - flutes wailed, clothes were torn, hair pulled out and shrill shrieks of despair filled the air. People worked themselves up into a state of near hysteria. All of this was considered appropriate because the little girl had lost her life and there was no hope for her. Death was the end - the last great enemy of the living. There was no sure and certain hope that Jairus' daughter would live again. Her death was an unmitigated evil. Jesus didn't like it! He was revolted by the popular attitude to death. He shut the mourners up.

(2) What Jesus taught.

Jesus told the mourners that the Jairus' daughter was not dead in the way they believed but asleep. He didn't say, "She's gone to heaven." Jesus never said this of anyone. (I will deal with the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus later in this series of expositions!) Rather, he said, "She's gone to sleep." When we sleep we live, but not consciously, and eventually wake up to newness of life. In life we are alive to ourselves and to God. He knows more about us than we know ourselves. We forget many, many things about our lives. I sometimes find that my old pupils can remember my failings better than I remember them myself! When we die physically we remain alive to God. We are no less real to him. This is, perhaps, what Jesus meant when he said to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, "Now about the dead rising - have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!" Mk12v26and27. The dead live on with God and at the resurrection he will restore conscious life to our new bodies. Jesus was able to call Jairus' daughter back to life because she was alive to God and he was prepared to call her back because she had not entered the bliss of conscious communion with God. (I deal at much greater depth with this topic in my article on the afterlife and in my exposition on 1Cor15v12to34.)

(F) Christ's tenderness and consideration.

There is something exquisitely appealing about the way Jesus dealt with Jairus' daughter: He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (Which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!") Jesus held her hand and brought her back with the gentlest of commands: "Little one - come." We witness the touch of affection, the term of endearment and the quiet, loving invitation, "Come."

The tenderness of Jesus is very appealing. I love him for it. When we have been bruised and battered by life there is no balm so effective as a little tenderness. I can remember being given a telling off by my headmaster and standing on bus duty feeling rather demoralised. A service bus drove in that picked up some of the pupils. A very lovely girl, an old student, looked out of the window, saw me, alighted, walked over and gave me a big hug. That is all she did. Then she turned round and got back onto the bus again. That hug was balm to my soul.

Many are still brought to new life in Christ quietly and gently. A moment arrives when he just says, "Come." My mother became aware of Jesus' simple and loving invitation to follow him as she listened to Alan Redpath preach nearly 70 years ago. She gladly accepted the invitation and was gently ushered into the kingdom. She was like Lydia whose heart the Lord opened in response to Paul's message. See Acts16v14. See exposition on Lydia.

Jesus wins many by his sheer loveliness, the graciousness of his call and the willingness of sinners to yield and come.

            Come, weary one, and find sweet rest:
            Jesus is passing by!
            Come where the longing heart is blest,
            And on his word rely.

A glorious day is coming when Jesus will once again say, "Come!" That is all he will need to say! The dead in Christ will arise to return with him to earth. "Come!" And all the redeemed on earth will be caught up to with him in the air.

In all the astonishment, excitement and intense emotion attending the little maid's wonderful restoration Jesus never lost sight of her need. He ...... told them to give her something to eat. Mk5v43. This was also a very useful means of bringing a return to normality and settling everyone down.

It is very easy to forget the weak in times of high success. I fear some successful church leaders are guilty of this. They do not make time to encourage those whose ministry has not met with much blessing. Jesus never overlooked the weak and he never will. It moves me greatly that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection. Why did he do this? It was because she needed him most. Jesus does not overlook or stop caring for any member of his flock.

(G) Christ's accomplishment.

Legion, the woman who touched the hem of his garment and Jairus all had one thing in common - their complete and utter helplessness. Jesus does not do many miracles of the same kind today as he did 2000 years ago, but I am bound to say he is still the help of the helpless. Pastor Alan Carr uses a telling story to illustrate this truth:

A Methodist preacher by the name of Luther Bridges, was born in 1884, he married Sarah Veatch and three lovely sons were born of their union. Pastor Bridges accepted an invitation to minister at a conference in Kentucky in the year 1910, so he left his family in the care of his father-in-law and made the trip to Kentucky. There, two wonderful weeks of ministry resulted. The last service closed with great joy and he was excited to be called to the telephone. He couldn’t wait to tell his wife about all the blessings.

But it wasn’t her voice on that long distance line. He listened in silence to the news that a fire had burned down the house of his father-in-law and his wife and all three of his sons had died in the blaze. That distraught father leaned heavily on His Saviour and expressed his faith in God during a tearful moment by penning these words:

            There’s within my heart a melody
            Jesus whispers sweet and low,
            Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
            In all of life’s ebb and flow.

            Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
            Sweetest Name I know,
            Fills my every longing,
            Keeps me singing as I go.

I have sung the little chorus hundreds of times without realising the circumstances in which it was written. It is surely a miracle that a man who lost his entire family in one cruel accident could sing:

            Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
            Sweetest Name I know,
            Fills my every longing,
            Keeps me singing as I go.

Whatever our need may be, however desperate our circumstances and hopeless our situation Jesus is able to help.

            Ask the Saviour to help you,
            Comfort, strengthen and keep you;
            He is willing to aid you,
            He will carry you through.