“While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue's house who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’ As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe’ ” (Mark 5:35-36).
How do you react when you hear bad news? Do you react by trying to maintain your faith in God to guide and deliver you or do you succumb to fear as your heart is filled with worry and uncertainty?
In the opening passage above, Jesus encourages Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, to react by keeping his faith in God even upon hearing the terrible news of his daughter’s death (Mark 5:22, 35-36). Earlier, Jairus had begged Jesus to come, lay hands upon, and heal his daughter as she lay at death’s door (Mark 5:22-23). He had placed his faith in Jesus’ power to save his beloved daughter.
Jesus went with the man to his house to lay his hands upon the child (Mark 5:24). However, before arriving, some come from the house indicating that the ruler’s daughter is dead. Those who came from Jairus’ home had given up their faith in Jesus’ power to save this girl. They did not see the point of bothering Jesus any further (Mark 5:35). Can you imagine how you would have felt if you were in this father’s shoes? You had placed your faith in God’s power to heal your beloved child only to hear the dreadful news that she was now dead? Was there any point in troubling Jesus any further?
Jesus knew this was a critical moment in Jairus’ faith in God. The ruler needed to maintain his faith in God at this precarious junction. Jesus had the power to deliver Jairus’ daughter from death, but only if Jairus kept his faith in God. Later, when Jesus goes to his home country, He would be limited on the mighty works He would do there because of the lack of faith of the people (Mark 6:1-6). Jesus could not raise the ruler’s daughter from the dead if Jairus chose to abandon his faith and succumb to his fears and uncertainties. Thus, Jesus tells him, “Do not be afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36).
All indications are that Jairus kept his faith in Jesus as the throng made their way to his house. As Jesus arrives at the house and sees the people wailing over the death of the little girl, He enters the house and says, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping?” (Mark 5:37-39). Jesus was trying to show the people, the child was only temporarily away from them, as when one is sleeping. How do the people react when they hear this statement of Jesus? They ridiculed Him (Mark 5:40). Like those who had come from the ruler’s house bearing the bad news of Jairus daughter, they too have given up their faith in God’s power to deliver at this point!
However, Jairus still clung to his faith in Jesus even as he was surrounded by those who were filled with doubt. After putting the doubters outside of the house, Jesus takes the mother and father and enters the child’s room and says, “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (Mark 5:40-41). The little girl arises from the dead. Everyone is overcome with amazement (Mark 5:42). This shocking event was made possible not only by God’s great power, but also by one’s man determination to cling to his faith!
It is much easier to have faith in God when everything is going well in our lives. It is much more difficult to maintain our faith in Him when we hear bad news that tempts us to let our hearts become filled with fear, doubt, and worry. Today, even when others may abandon their faith, I will strive to follow Jesus’ encouragement during such troublesome times: “Do not be afraid, only believe”!
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).