While I was at home in New Jersey this winter, I started going to a new church. For Lent this year, this church is reading the whole New Testament together in forty days, but with a specially organized NIV bible. This video explains it pretty well. Essentially it’s the NIV New Testament reorganized with the chapter numbers and verse numbers taken out so it reads more like a novel than a textbook.
So the readings are broken up into 11-page sections, and to be honest, I’m a little behind. Yesterday I was reading the second section (Luke 3-9) and since I’m behind in the readings, I just wanted to get it done and my mind kept wandering and my brain kept rambling. But then I got to page 21, which in a normal Bible, is Luke 8:40-56. I’ve read this story before: it’s about Jairus’ daughter, and a woman who’s been sick for 12 years.
Simply put: Jairus is a religious leader. His only daughter is dying, so he runs to Jesus, who happens to be nearby, and begs Jesus to come to his house to save his daughter. As they’re on their way, a woman who has had a bleeding disorder for 12 years is in the crowds surrounding Jesus. She has such great faith that she believes that merely touching Jesus’ robe will heal her so, seeing her chance, she touches the edge of His cloak. Jesus immediately feels some of His power leave Him, so he stops and asks who touched Him. Peter makes the argument that there are crowds of people around Jesus, so one of them must have touched Him. Jesus knows, however, that this was a significant touch to His cloak, so He presses further. The woman comes forward and admits to touching Jesus’ cloak. Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Meanwhile, one of Jairus’ servants comes from where the daughter is dying, and tells them that it’s too late; she’s dead. Jesus says not to worry, but to believe and she will be healed. When they get to Jairus’ house, Jesus tells the mourners to stop wailing because the daughter is not dead, but sleeping. They laugh at Jesus because they know she’s dead. But Jesus takes the girl by the hand and says, “My child, get up!” And she does.
Whew! What a story! Can you believe it? This really happened once. It’s completely true. Jesus performed these two miracles. I’d read and heard this passage a million times before, but yesterday it struck me differently. And upon thinking about it more today, I began to see so many new things in this awesome story.
Let’s dissect this a little. First, Jairus was a religious leader whose only daughter was dying. So he runs to Jesus for help. This guy Jairus had some major faith that Jesus was the real deal. Jairus had one chance to get someone to help his daughter and instead of going to a doctor-type, he chose Jesus. Ok, so now that we live 2000 years after Jesus and we know the whole story, that seems like a simple decision When Jairus was alive though, that wasn’t such an easy choice. Jesus wasn’t liked very much by most religious leaders, basically since He told them that they were living a lie. Most religious leaders were hypocrites and lawless men, so when Jesus brought those things to light, they were pretty peeved. Anyway, Jairus choosing Jesus shows us where his faith lies.
Jesus agreed to go with Jairus and while walking there, Jesus (and probably Jairus, too) was surrounded by a huge crowd of people. There was a sick woman in the crowd who also had some pretty substantial faith. She knew that if she only touched the fringe of Jesus’ robe, she’d be healed. The Bible tells us that not one doctor she talked to could heal her, so Jesus was her last-ditch effort, too. She and Jairus are in kind of the same boat here. Immediately after the woman touched Jesus’ robe, she’s healed. Feeling the power leave him, Jesus asked who touched Him. The disciples, mainly Peter, seem confused and frustrated: they’re in a crowd of people. Everybody’s touching everybody. Almost like, “Come on, Jesus.” However, Jesus says again that someone touched Him, and that power has gone out of Him. That’s such a weird thing… power going out of someone. I have never felt that before. It seems like such an out-of-place thing for Jesus to say.
At this point Jairus, still with Jesus, is seeing this whole thing happen. He’s obviously still distressed since his daughter is taking her final breaths, and Jesus must know this, but He stops to find out what happened anyway. Finally, the woman comes forward and throws herself at Jesus’ feet; she tells Him that she was the one who touched his robe. He tells her that she is healed, and to go in peace. Jesus knew all along that she was the one who touched Him, didn’t He? I think so. But, like in Genesis 3:8-9 when God asks Adam and Eve where they are, He knows already. God wants us to be accountable, so He asks us what He already knows. Jesus did that here with the sick woman, asking what He already knew. Sometimes He does that to prove a point, sometimes to teach us something. In this passage, I think it’s to teach us patience, and that God is sovereign over time, and that He does everything in His perfect timing and for a perfect purpose.
While Jesus was still speaking to the woman, someone from Jairus’ house came and told them that Jairus’ daughter was dead, and not to bother Jesus anymore. Jesus said not to worry, and went with Jairus to the house anyway. “Just believe, and she will be healed,” He says. When they get to Jairus’ house, Jesus only lets Peter, John, James, Jairus, and Jairus’ wife go in to where the daughter is. Jesus tells the mourners to stop mourning because the girl is not dead, but asleep. And then they laugh at Him.
Side note: What? Sure, if someone I loved had just died, I’d be so ready to laugh. Not really. Although, this isn’t exactly what happened here. In that time, when someone was on his or her deathbed, the family would sometimes hire mourners to mourn the death of that person. More mourners meant a better social status. So in this instance, these mourners might not be related to the family at all, and might not even care. But since I’m not a theologian, I could be wrong. So maybe that’s why they could go from wailing to laughter in such a short amount of time.
Anyway, Jesus went into the room, took the girl by the hand, and said to her, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned to her and she immediately stood up. They got her some food, and Jesus told them not to tell anyone what He’d done.
This small section hits pretty hard. Jesus took the girl by the hand and told her to wake up. Against all known odds, the girl came back to life. People were so sure of the futility of this mission that they laughed in Jesus’ face. There have been so many times when I have laughed in Jesus’ face; I think I know better, that it’s obvious that something isn’t going to change. Then it does, by the grace of God. There are so many stories of people in the depths of despair, so far from knowing Christ that anyone would call them a lost cause. But Jesus reaches into the darkness and pulls them to Himself.
The other night I was babysitting a little girl and at bedtime, I read her the story of Jairus’ daughter from her storybook Bible. At the part in the story when Jesus wakes the girl up, the storybook Bible says:
‘Honey,’ he said, ‘it’s time to get up.’ And he reached down into death and gently brought the little girl back to life.
Oh. My. Gosh. Tears. Jesus is so tender and loving with this little girl. Wow. Can you imagine this? Jesus talking to you tenderly and lovingly telling you to come back? But what a smack in the face for me, because how many times has Jesus spoken to me like this, but instead of listening and doing what He asks, I turn and run the other way? Too many times.
My soul feels tired and dry. I don’t know how to fix it. All I can do is read the Bible and pray that God will revive my spirit, which I know He will. It’s a great encouragement to know that He who can bring a dead girl back to life can also give renewed life to my soul. Jesus went where people gave up, and at our lowest points, He rescues us.