Jairus was the synagogue ruler. And because of this, Jairus wielded an awful lot of power. The synagogue was pretty much the centre of everything in those days. The centre of religion, the centre of education, the centre of civic leadership, the centre of social activity. That is why it was such a terrible thing to be excluded from the synagogue; it was the ultimate sanction for it meant you were a social leper.

I often wonder if Jairus could be the same Synagogue leader who threw Jesus out of the Synagogue in Luke 4 after he had read those words from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me?”  Quite a turnaround if it is! It’s also quite possible Jairus was responsible for excluding this woman from the Synagogue because of her condition.

Anyway, Jairus was the most important man in town. But not this day. For the man who had it all, would give it all up at the drop of a hat for the one thing he cherished above everything else – his twelve-year-old daughter who lay dying at home.


  1. A Call For help

As Jairus hurriedly makes his way to Jesus, we don’t see the neatly groomed, self-confident leader we might expect. The man who had all the answers – we see a desperate man begging for a miracle. A pillar of the community who falls at Jesus’ feet and ‘pleaded earnestly with him’ and asks: ‘Please come and put your hands on my daughter so that she will be healed and live.’

Which father wouldn’t want the best for their daughter? The love of Jairus’ life is suffering. The one he has tenderly cared for and seen take her first few steps and slowly grow, now looks as if she will never fully reach womanhood. No coming of age. No prom night. No graduation. No marriage. No grandchildren. In short, no future.

And it may well be that you find yourselves in a similar situation this morning. Perhaps you are being eaten away by anxiety and fear – whether it is the pandemic, health of family members. The Delta variant. All these things can drive us to distraction, can’t it? Just like Jairus in fact.

But Jairus had the humility to ask Jesus for help and, vs24 ‘Jesus went with him.’  The sense of relief which swept over that man at this point must have been immense. The nightmare may turn out to be dream.

And then would you believe it? Jesus stops halfway and will not budge until he finds out who has touched him! Touched him! You can imagine Jairus thinking: There is a whole crowd of people touching you! My daughter is dying and all you can be bothered about is who touched you?  At least this woman has had a life – not like my daughter who is dying. And to top it all off, Jesus then decides to have a conversation with the woman responsible.

There’s a real sense of irony here isn’t there? Jesus and this woman coming together in this way at one of the most important times in Jairus’ life. I wonder if it made him reflect on the decisions he’d made as leader of the synagogue.

We know this woman was an outcast, a social leper. A nobody. She hadn’t been to the synagogue for 12 years. But she was someone who still needed Jesus’ healing touch on her body, soul, and spirit.

Isn’t this true in our own experience as a Christian? Our prayers seem to be answered and then some unforeseen interruption knocks us sideways and we feel as though we are back to square one. And we ask: ‘What is going on? Why is God doing this to me?’ But it’s also a reminder to be always ready for the unexpected opportunities that come our way day-by-day. That phone call, doorbell, walk down the High Street. The clock is ticking, Jesus is stalling and Jairus is becoming increasingly irritated! We know that Jesus is in control as we come to my second point:


  1. A Call To Trust

Vs35-36, ‘While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

It’s at this stage in the story that everything gets turned on its head. Jesus goes from being led to doing the leading, from being convinced by Jairus to convincing Jairus, from being admired, to being laughed at, from helping people out, to throwing people out. Notice how Jesus takes charge.

The delegation tells Jairus not to bother Jesus anymore, it’s too late, what can he do? But Jesus ignores them. And in so doing underscores an important principle when it comes to faith: who are we going to listen to when we have a crisis of faith? The crowd or Jesus? You must make a choice.

And so, Jesus turns to Jairus to plead with him ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he says, ‘just believe.’ Don’t allow what you see and hear to overwhelm you. Don’t give in to your emotions and fear. ‘Believe’ or put more simply trust. That’s what faith is. Replacing fear with confidence.

I read a story about a father in the Bahamas who cried out a similar plea to his son who was trapped in a burning house. The two-storey structure was engulfed in flames, and the family father, mother, and several children were on its way out when the smallest boy became terrified and ran back upstairs. His father, outside, shouted to him, ‘Jump son, jump! I’ll catch you.” The boy who was scared witless, cried out, ‘But daddy I can’t see you.” “I know” his father reassured, “but I can see you. Jump!”

And it is like that with God and us – our heavenly father can see the future when we can barely cope with the present.

A similar expression of trust in the God who can see, even when we can’t, was found on the wall of a cellar at Cologne concentration camp after it had been liberated. They are familiar words: ‘I believe in the sun even though it doesn’t shine, I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown, I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.‘ In fact, the original poem is much longer:

I believe in the sun,
Even when it is not shining.
And I believe in love,
Even when there’s no one there.
And I believe in God,
Even when He is silent.
I believe through any trial,
There is always a way.
But sometimes in this suffering
And hopeless despair
My heart cries for shelter,
To know someone’s there.
But a voice rises within me, saying hold on.
My child, I’ll give you strength,
I’ll give you hope.
Just stay a little while.
I believe in the sun,
Even when it is not shining.
And I believe in love,
Even when there’s no one there.
But I believe in God,
Even when he is silent.
I believe through any trial there is always a way.
May there someday be sunshine.
May there someday be happiness.
May there someday be love.
May there someday be peace.

This never ceases to move me – especially when we consider the context in which is was written. What eyes could possibly see good in the midst of such horror? Eyes which could see! The unseen eyes of faith. And that is the choice being presented to Jairus and, often to us – to see only the hurt or to see the Healer? To be overtaken by the fear of the present or to walk with Jesus into the future? Quite amazingly, Jairus chose Jesus.

And that is when Jesus encounters a group of mourners vs38 ‘When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.’ That was a Big mistake! You don’t laugh at Jesus. What was his response? vs40, ‘He threw them all out!’

Jesus doesn’t politely ask if they wouldn’t mind moving into the next room, so he and the parents can have a bit of privacy. But why such force? Why such intolerance?

The answer, I think, is simply this: when we are being asked to put our trust in Jesus in that moment of crisis, the last thing we need, and the last thing this family needs, is the distraction of doubt.


  1. A Call For Hope

On the one hand Jesus bids ‘trust me’. On the other hand, you have the crowd saying, ‘don’t be a fool.’ God is not going to allow the noise of the critics to distract those who are his. I think it’s also a lesson to us about who we will listen to in the midst of a crisis. But also, what we say to others in their time of crisis. Sometimes our more negative thoughts are often best kept to ourselves.

 ‘Jesus took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this and told them to give her something to eat.’ 

Why did Jesus say the little girl was only asleep when she was patently dead? Well, it was because from his perspective and the perspective of those who trust in him, that is all death is – sleep. It is a temporary condition and not a final state. Is death something to be feared or welcomed?

What we see being enacted here is a living parable of Jesus’ mastery over our ultimate future. For those who are trusting in the Lord Jesus the experience of death is a new beginning when we are welcomed into the glory of heaven with those words: “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”


In a world like ours which has lost all sense of any certainty of life after death, where all thoughts of death are encrusted by a mix of sentimentality and fear, that is incredibly good news indeed. I don’t know what is going to happen to me in the next six years, days or even hours, and neither do you. But this morning God invites each one of us to put our trust in him.

Jesus hasn’t changed. His power has not diminished and neither has his loving purpose for us which is to present us pure and holy to his Father, with great joy as he presented this daughter to her father. And so, he says to us, as he said to Jairus: ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’ Amen.

Mark 5vs36

This is a copy of a talk I gave at Christ Church, Billericay on Sunday 27 June 2021.  The Bible Reading was Mark 5:21-43.