Jairus’ Great Dilemma

Posted on July 15, 2019

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By David Ettinger

Read the account in Mark 5:21-43.

Miraculous Healing
It seems impossible that Jairus’ daughter could have been raised from death to life and not come to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. In fact, we can well imagine that she was an integral part of the early Church and played an active role in it.

After all, she was a walking testament of Christ’s deity.

Much of what she believed also would have been shaped by what her parents told her about the Rabbi from Nazareth. The words of her father Jairus, a synagogue ruler, would have been especially persuasive. It is difficult to imagine the entire family not immediately embracing Israel’s proclaimed Messiah following the miraculous raising of their daughter. For Jairus and his wife, it would have been impossible to lay eyes on their precious girl without seeing the hand of the Son of God upon her.

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Yet, despite the act of faith Jairus displayed in coming to Jesus and kneeling at His feet, it could not have been easy for him. During Jesus’ three years of ministry, many people believed in Him, but many more did not. The religious leaders, whose stubborn hearts and fear of Rome led the Israelites to oppose Jesus, agitated much of the disbelief of and hostility toward Jesus.

Of Two Opinions
While the fact of Jesus’ miracles was irrefutable – they were performed in the open before hundreds and sometimes thousands of witnesses – it was often the source of them that was questioned. The teachers of the law who opposed Jesus tried to turn the crowds away from Him by claiming, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons” (Mark 3:22). Such an argument was persuasive to those who refused to believe, leading to two schools of thought regarding Jesus: That He was, as He claimed, sent from God; or that He, as the leaders asserted, was a tool of Satan.

These diametrically opposed viewpoints often divided towns and synagogues. Which brings us back to Jairus. As the synagogue ruler, probably of the large congregation in Capernaum, Jairus was in a tough position. The synagogue ruler did not serve in a religious capacity, but oversaw the building’s maintenance, worship services, and civil activities. In Jesus’ time, the synagogue was not just used for Saturday worship, but was also the primary meeting place for weekly secular events.

Because of the importance of the position, the synagogue ruler was considered an honored and respected leader in his community. As such, he would be careful in expressing his views about disputed issues, fearing that he may rile the sensitivities of the congregants.

This put Jairus right in the middle of the “Jesus controversy.” Jesus performed numerous miracles throughout Capernaum and the rest of Galilee, and throngs of people witnessed them. In fact, many people in Jairus’ own synagogue were likely affected by the miracles either directly (themselves being healed) or indirectly (a loved one for friend being healed). Opinions on Jesus’ authority must have raged throughout the congregation and it is inevitable that on several occasions the all-important question came Jairus’ way: “Sir, what do you think about the Rabbi? Is He of God or of the devil?”

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The healing of Jairus’ daughter as depicted in the movie, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Knowing that a clear answer would offend half his congregation, it is possible that Jairus sidestepped the issue.

Must Commit
Then his daughter became sick and on the verge of death. He could no longer be noncommittal. He had a decision to make, and he had to make it quickly. He decided on a course of action knowing it would either endear him to or ostracize him from his congregation.

In despair he came to Jesus. Imagine the strength – and brokenness – it took for him to fall at Jesus’ feet and plead, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live” (Mark 5:23-24).

Also, keep in mind that, “When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him” (Mark 5:21). Jairus’ courageous act came before hundreds, if not thousands, of witnesses. His faith was exposed. He had chosen his side of the “Christ controversy.”

Jairus may have paid a steep price for his actions, but he gained so much more; his daughter for one. But far more than that, he gained eternal life through Him “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

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