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On Your Mark

A Desperate Dad

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (Mark 5:21-23, NIV)

I wonder if the disciples were afraid to get into a boat again with Jesus. A fierce storm almost sank them the last time they sailed (4:35-41). But this time there’s fair weather. Life’s like that, isn’t it? Sometimes, terrible peril, and other times, quiet calm.

If the disciples had been hoping for some time off, they were in for disappointment. A large crowd awaited their arrival. We can assume Jesus is at the outskirts of Capernaum, His new hometown, based on the description of events in Matthew 9:1-26.

It was in the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus delivered the demoniac (Mark 1:21-28). Jairus was one of the leaders in that very synagogue. No doubt he would have been present for the healings in the street after Sabbath ended at sunset (1:32-38). He would have been aware of the paralytic who had been healed after being dropped through the roof (2:1-12); perhaps he himself was in the house.

Certainly, Jairus knew the criticism against Jesus — that He claimed to forgive sins, which only God can do (2:7), and that He healed a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath, most likely an event that took place also in the Capernaum synagogue (3:1-6).

I wonder if Jairus had been on the fence regarding Jesus. However, desperate need will drive you to wherever you can get help. So, this dad comes to Jesus.

Jairus is only one of a handful of miracle recipients ever named in the Gospels. Why? Perhaps he went on to later become a prominent member of the Early Church, and/or perhaps his daughter became known in the Christian community and shared in many places her own testimony of Jesus’ raising her up when she was a girl.

We do know for sure that Jairus came with great humility, falling at Jesus’ feet. He makes a request of Jesus that no one else had previously — namely, that Jesus put His hands on his sick daughter. To this point in Mark, the only times Jesus had touched the sick had been when He took the hand of
Peter’s mother-in-law (1:31) and when He was moved with compassion for the leper (1:41). Most likely, Jairus had seen Jesus heal by laying on His hands in contexts not reported in the Gospels.

The key element in all this is that Jairus had faith. Based on the miracles he had either witnessed personally or heard about through others — the miracles in his own synagogue and town — he had faith to believe that what Jesus did for others, He could also do for his very sick daughter.

Jairus had no doubt that if Jesus would only come his girl would be healed and live.

How desperate are you for the Lord’s help in your own life? Are you willing, like Jairus, to fall on your knees and plead for help?

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, it is easy for me to forget what You’ve done for me and others in the past. I so easily disconnect Your past kindness from the possibility of Your present provision. In every new crisis, help me to learn from Jairus that I can come to You with faith for my need.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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