Don’t Be Afraid, Just Believe
Key Verse 5:36
“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’”
The man had been an outcast from society, destined to live his life in the tombs and oppressed by demons. But Jesus’ compassion for this tortured man was too great to let him die in his misery. Jesus visited him in the place of his suffering and delivered him from his demons, and restored his life. Overwhelmed with the grace of our Lord Jesus, the man begged Jesus to take him along. It reveals the most intimate desire of man— is to be with Jesus and to follow Jesus. But Jesus had a different plan for his life. “Go home to your friends”, Jesus told him, “and tell them what wonderful things God has done for you; and how merciful he has been.” (5:19) It reveals what God want mission is given those who receive the grace of the Lord.
Today Mark tells us another wondrous story, about two people. One was a eminent synagogue ruler and the other, a nameless woman in the crowd. Their stories are remarkable because of the unusual way in which they both came to Jesus and received his blessing. Of the hundreds who had been with Jesus on that day, these two revealed extraordinary faith. Jesus saw in them the true character of faith— the kind of faith God is always looking for. And then Jesus made sure that everyone else recognized these two people’s faith so that everyone might learn the kind of faith that pleases God and brings blessing with it. So, what kind of faith did they have? Let’s see.
Look at verse 21: “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.” In the Gospel stories, the size of the crowd is usually immaterial. But sometimes, the size of the crowd becomes extremely relevant to the gospel message. And this is one of those times where the size of the crowd is important to the goal of the gospel message. Mark tells us that a large crowd had been gathering around Jesus on the shore where he arrived. Later on in the story, Mark also points out that the crowds were so large that they were pressing against Jesus. Men and women from all walks of life had come to meet Jesus. Jesus was very popular. He had shown compassion to most unlikely people. By now, Jesus had also had major confrontation with the religious leaders. They had been angered by his words and actions. They had also been thinking about killing him. Imagine then the atmosphere around Jesus, wherever he went. For most people, even a casual association with Jesus invited risks of all sorts. Its amazing that what angered the religious leaders about Jesus was the very thing that drew the crowds to him even more. But regardless of the risks, the crowds came to him anyway, because Jesus brings to the heart a warmth and comfort beyond description. These people needed the comfort that only Jesus can give to the troubled soul. It would be unusual however to see among these crowds those who were from the ruling classes of society.
But Mark tells us that the story here begins with such a man— a man of power and influence. He stands as a unique person among his peers. He breaks all the chains that kept him as a slave bound to his own class. He crosses the boundary separating class from class. Then he does something else as well. He goes as far as putting aside his pride, dignity and honor. What he does is unthinkable to men in his position in society. And he does it for a good reason. He does it for his daughter. Mark tells us his story in detail to inspire many to do the same.
Read verses 22 and 23. “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.’” Before this happened, we do not know what Jairus was like, being a man of high position in society. He may not have been a proud and arrogant man. But he was a synagogue ruler. And therefore, he must have enjoyed all the benefits of being a man who commands honor and respect. He never bowed down to anyone, and he surely did not need to plead for anything. He was a happy man as long as he performed his duties in the synagogue and then came home to spend time with his lovely daughter. Then one day, the apple of his eye became ill. Doctors were saying that they could do no more for her. They were sure that she was dying. It was one of those crisis beyond hope. He was helpless. He should give up.
There was one alternative left. He knew about Jesus and what Jesus was doing wherever he went. He had heard of the healings and the compassion of Jesus. But it wasn’t so easy for him to go in that direction. Jesus was an outcast, rejected by the religious leaders. To seek Jesus out meant to abandon everything in his life— especially his position as a religious leader in his community. It would mean abandoning his honor. Was it worth abandoning everything for the sake of that chance his daughter might have with Jesus? It was because he loved his daughter and would do anything to see her well again. So Jairus went to Jesus. It was his first step of faith. He came to Jesus. Then Jairus showed further faith. He knelt down before Jesus— and this in the view of all people great and small. Then, Jairus pleaded with Jesus to come lay his hand on his daughter so that she might be healed and live.
It is easy to think that any father would abandon all things for the sake of his daughter or his son. But that is not always the case. One man of standing in society loved his daughter more than life itself. There was nothing she wanted that he did not give her. But one day his daughter fell in love with a common young man of low heritage. He was a good man with a good heart. But the father would not hear of it. He found himself doing what he never imagined he would do. He publicly disown his daughter instead of associating himself with his daughter’s husband and his family to lower himself to their social level. He lost his daughter. And he never came to know his own grandchildren— the children of the daughter he loves more than his life. When we think about it, he loved his daughter. But he loved his position and social standing more than his daughter. Words of love are cheap, but when pride comes in the heart of men and women, that pride seems to be dearer to them than one’s own son or daughter. Another man said that he loves his children more than life itself. But when a younger woman seduced him, he left his son and daughter to go after the younger woman. Later this hypocrite kept on saying to his son and daughter, “I love you so much. But I could not stand your mother. I did this for your own good. It is better to leave her than to have you grow up in a loveless home.” What he really meant to say was, “I love my self much more than I love you.” Jairus paid the high cost for the sake of the love he held for his daughter.
And Jairus had faith in Jesus. He believed that Jesus loves with the love of God. He believed in Jesus’ compassion. He believed that Jesus would receive him and honor his plea. With this simple faith in Jesus, Jairus came to Jesus and pleaded with him. When Jesus heard such a plea, Jesus immediately went with him. (24) Jesus changed his whole plan in order to honor this man’s faith and desire.
But this is not the end of Jairus’ story. Mark continues with another story equally as interesting before he brings us back to Jairus’ story. There was a woman who also came to Jesus needing healing. Read verses 25, 26: “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” She was nameless. And for years she had suffered quietly with a shameful problem of bleeding. She suffered even more because she could not talk about her problem with anyone. For years she saw doctors but none could help her. She was beyond cure, and she may have resigned herself to living with her problem the rest of her life. But something happened to ignite hope in her. Read verse 27,28. “When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’” Like Jairus she too had heard of Jesus. And she too realized that the only alternative to suffering and shame was to seek Jesus. But, it wasn’t easy to come to Jesus. If she was discovered, she would be stoned because like the leper, she was also considered an “unclean” woman. Even if there was a way to come to Jesus, she couldn’t tell him about it for shame. So, she planned to sneak to where Jesus was, touch his clothes, then sneak back home undetected. And that’s what she did. But it did not go as she had planned.
Rear verses 30-34. “At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, “Who touched me?”’ But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’” Of course, Jesus had known who she was and what she did. Of course, Jesus understood her shame. But he still insisted that she come forward in front of the whole crowd and tell her story.
Why did Jesus insist on finding her and having her tell her story? Because Jesus deeply understood that while her body was healed, she needed spiritual healing. While she was physically healed, Jesus knew that her heart and soul was not healed, and in the long run she would be worse off than before. (Jn.5:14) How so? What kind of heart healing did she need? This woman had been living in shame at least for 12 years. Even if her body was healed, her heart was steeped in shame and in self consciousness. Jesus knew that unless her heart was healed, her healing would not be complete. So he helped her receive inner healing. Let’s also consider Jesus had another purpose for calling her forward to confess her problem. So many people crowded Jesus. But no one received healing, except this one woman. “What made her different from the others?” For this reason Jesus wanted her to express her faith openly. Jesus wanted her to confess the grace of God in her life so that all people would know that God blesses faith. When she told her story, and expressed her faith and the grace of God, Jesus blessed her faith and brought peace and joy into her life. Now, without shame, nor self consciousness, she could tell everyone what the Lord has done for her, how he had mercy of her.
While this woman was sharing her testimony, what happened? Read verse 35. “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?’” It was so painful to hear this. It was the cold voice of reality speaking to him— his hopes were dashed and it was time to accept the fact of death and tragedy. It was in fact the voice of Satan to give up and surrender his situation to death. From the human point of view, no more could be done! But not in the sight of God. In his despairing human reality, one thing could still be done. Read verse 36. “Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” What Jesus told Jairus is humanly unreasonable to accept. Jesus’ words however, were God’s voice to Jairus to not be afraid but to “Just believe.” How could Jairus not be afraid? How could he just believe? It was an impossible word in a time like this. But that is usually God’s voice to us in all situations of life. The world and its realities frighten us, and there seems to be no hope in hopeless and tragic situations. The world often whispers in our ears: “she is dead.. it is all over.. there is no hope.. why even try.” But God always whispers otherwise. God voice to us is always “Don’t be afraid” Don’t be afraid of failure, don’t be afraid of the future, don’t be afraid of rejection.” Don’t be afraid speaks to every heart in a different way. Whatever our fears are, God tells us “don’t be afraid.” But it does not stop there. Jesus— God’s voice to Jairus— was also “just believe”. Jairus was afraid that it was the end, that it was all over, that his efforts were fruitless. But they weren’t. God had heard him. It was easy to believe when the girl had some hope to recover, but it was impossible to believe now that she was dead. But it was for this moment that Jesus had waited to help Jairus’ faith grow from healing faith to resurrection faith. Just believe. Jairus needed now more than ever to believe in Jesus. To believe in the love of God. To believe in prayer. to believe that God had a goo purpose in letting things go this far. To believe that God is with him, in this moment. Don’t be afraid. Fear is the enemy of faith. But just believe is God’s hope that we live by faith in Jesus even in the darkest moments. Amazingly, Jairus, in spite of the reality at hand, decided to not be afraid and to believe. It was difficult. But as long as it was God’s voice to Jairus in this situation, Jairus decided to believe it.
Look at verses 37-43. What Jesus and the others came to was tragic. It was an environment steeped in sorrow and in despair. Everywhere there was crying and wailing. When Jesus attempted to plant hope and the truth of God into their hearts, no one proved to have even a little faith to believe Jesus’ unreasonable words. Only Jairus did. When Jairus held on to his faith, Jesus took her by the hand and said to her, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” And he restored her to her family. He did so because a man decided to reject all voices, and to embrace God’s loving voice: “Don’t be afraid, just believe”. It is also good for us to listen to God’s voice to us, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”