Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43
Faith in Jesus Never Disappoints!
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.” So Jesus went with him. 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 any more?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 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. After he put them all out, he 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 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. (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Have you ever disappointed someone? I have. While I would prefer that you didn’t actually do this, I am certain that if you were to ask my wife, my children or my grandchildren if I have ever disappointed them, they would probably say yes. The same holds true for my friends. I am sure that at one time or another my words or my actions have disappointed my friends. Could the same be true of the congregations I have served? Probably so.
Have I ever been disappointed by others? Yes, I have. There have been times when I was disappointed by my family, by my friends and even by the congregations I have served. No one, however, has ever disappointed me more than I have disappointed myself. Whether it was through my words or my silence, whether it was through my actions or my inactions I have disappointed myself far more often than I care to admit.
Why is that? Why do we disappoint others? Why do others disappoint us? Why do we disappoint ourselves? It all boils down to the fact that we are all mortal sinful human beings. No matter how hard we might try, no matter how much we might “know better,” we will disappoint both each other as well as ourselves.
Think of how sad and how bleak the story of our life would be if that were the end of the story. Praise God that the story of our life does not end there! As Christians we have been given something that overcomes our mortality, something that overcomes our sinfulness. It is— our faith in Jesus! We have a beautiful example of that reality here in our sermon text for today. With that reality in mind let’s see how a man named Jairus gives to us a beautiful example of this truth: Faith in Jesus Never Disappoints!
When Mark introduces us to Jairus he reveals to us that Jairus had the important and honored position of being “one of the synagogue rulers.” This meant that Jairus was a member of the board which oversaw the worship services as well as the other affairs of the synagogue in Capernaum. Although Jairus’ position of leadership in the synagogue usually required a fair amount of time and attention, on this day all of Jairus’ time and attention was focused on one thing— his twelve-year-old daughter. She was not just ill, she was dying.
We don’t know if Jairus was at the synagogue on the day the Rabbi from Nazareth spoke “with authority” and healed the man who had been possessed by an evil spirit. (See Mark 1:21ff) We don’t know if Jairus was at the synagogue on the day Jesus healed a man who had a “shriveled hand” (Mark 3:ff). We don’t know if someone had shared with Jairus how Jesus of Nazareth had healed Peter’s mother-in-law who was “in bed with a fever” by simply taking her hand and helping her up. (See Mark 1:29ff) We don’t know if someone had told their synagogue ruler how Jesus had healed a paralytic (Mark 2:1ff) or how Jesus had calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee by simply saying, “Quiet! Be still!” (Mark 4:39) or how Jesus had healed a man who had been possessed by an entire “legion” of demons (Mark 5:1ff). While there are many things we do not know, there is one thing we do know. When Jairus heard that Jesus had come back to Capernaum, his faith in Jesus led him to fall on his knees in front of Jesus and earnestly plead from the bottom of his heart, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”
Jesus was not only able to hear the desperation in Jairus’ voice, but He was also able to see the determination of Jairus’ faith. So Mark tells us that Jesus automatically agreed to go with Jairus. Unfortunately for Jairus there was a large crowd that was “pressed around” Jesus. This undoubtedly slowed down Jesus’ progress to Jairus’ house. Then there was another unexpected delay. Unbeknownst to Jairus a woman who had been “subject to bleeding for twelve years” (the entire time Jairus’ daughter was alive) had such a strong faith in Jesus that she said to herself, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed” (Mark 5:28). What was going through Jairus’ mind as Jesus stopped, turned to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” If Jairus was thinking to himself, “We need to hurry! There’s no time to waste!” he was right. Mark tells us, “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 any more?’” As Jairus’ heart sank, as Jairus’ life crumbled all around him, Jesus spoke the words that assured Jairus that faith in Jesus never disappoints! Very literally Mark tells us that Jesus “refused to listen” to the words these men had spoken. He “paid no attention” to them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Don’t be afraid Jairus. Let your faith push aside those words of calamity and catastrophe. Don’t be afraid, Jairus. Let your faith settle your nerves and calm your fears. “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
You know the rest of the story. You know how Jesus and Jairus went to Jairus’ house and found a large crowd of professional mourners, “crying and wailing loudly.” You know how the people laughed at Jesus when He said to them, “The child is not dead but asleep.” You know how Jesus took the child’s father and mother along with Peter, James and John, gently took the young girl by the hand, said to her “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”) and how miraculously the girl “stood up and walked around.” You know all of this, my friends! Since you know all of this, since with the eyes and ears of faith you have seen Jesus raise this dead girl back to life and heard Jesus say to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe,” now you need to remember that this same Jesus assures you that your faith in Him never disappoints!
We need to remember that the account of Jairus and his daughter is not just a quaint story that captures the attention of Sunday school children. It is not just an example of a father’s love for his daughter or Jesus’ willingness to help someone in their time of great need. The account of Jairus and his daughter is recorded on the pages of Scripture— for you! First and foremost this account is recorded in the Bible to assure you that this same Jesus still has power over everything— including death!
Yes, this same Jesus knows how much joy and how much sorrow, how much pleasure and how much pain, how much prosperity and how much poverty is proper for each of us. This same Jesus knows the correct balance of sunshine and storm, the precise mixture of darkness and light that we need in our lives. This same Jesus says to us exactly what He said to Jairus so many years ago, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”!
What does Jesus want us to believe? Perhaps we should start by taking a moment to highlight what Jesus does not want us to believe. Jesus does not want us to believe that if we at least try to live a good and decent life, then we have nothing to fear when we stand before the judgment throne of the Almighty. Jesus does not want us to believe that if our prayers are sincere enough, we can turn a loved one from the destructive path they are following. Jesus does not want us to believe that if our faith is “strong enough” our arthritis will disappear. Jesus does not want us to believe that the more we try to please God the more prosperity God will send into our lives. Jesus does not want us to believe that if we give $10 to church, God will give us back $100. If we give $100 to church God will bless us with $1,000. And if we give $1,000 to the church— sit down because God is going to bless you in more ways than you can imagine! Nothing like that falls within the parameters of Jesus’ words, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
What does Jesus want us to believe? Jesus wants us to believe that He lived an absolutely perfect life in our place. Jesus wants us to believe that He innocently suffered and died on the cross (Pointing to the cross) to completely pay for all of our sins. Jesus wants us to believe that just as He had the power to fulfill His promise to physically rise from the dead on the third day as the Victory over sin, death and the devil, so also, He has the power to fulfill all of the promises He has made to us. Jesus wants us to believe that for everyone who has faith in Him as their Savior, physical death is but a “sleep.” It is a “sleep” from which Jesus will one day say to us, “My child, I say to you— get up!” Jesus wants us to believe that no matter how powerless we might feel, no matter how many heartaches we might encounter on our journey through this world, He not only understands exactly what we are going through, but He has the power to bring us safely through it all. Jesus wants us to believe that faith in Him never disappoints!
That brings us right back to where we started. Have you ever disappointed anyone, my friends? I have. Has anyone ever disappointed you? Probably so. The simple fact that we are mortal sinful human beings all but guarantees that there are going to be times when we disappoint others and there are going to be times when other people disappoint us. All of that makes it even more glorious to know that faith in Jesus never disappoints! Jairus’ faith led him to go to Jesus with what ordinarily would be an impossible plea, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Jairus’ plea then came face-to-face with the cold harsh reality that he feared the most, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher any more?” But, before that cold harsh reality could even sink in, before Jairus’ faith became overwhelmed by disappointment, Jesus said to him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” We don’t know what was going through Jairus’ mind as he walked home with Jesus by his side, but it is certainly not difficult to imagine what overwhelmed Jairus and his wife when they watched as Jesus gently took hold of their daughter’s hand, as they listened to Jesus when He said to her, “Talitha koum!” and as they watched as their daughter stood up and started walking around. Their seemingly impossible situation was solved— by Jesus!
What are the situations in which Jesus says to you, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”? May God grant that in each and every one of those situations you will follow the example that Jairus has left for you and turn to Jesus for help. Then, my friends, God’s grace and God’s power will lead you to an even deeper understanding of the truth: Faith in Jesus Never Disappoints!
To God be the glory!