Mark 5:35-43

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.

When he had entered, Jesus said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was.

He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:35-43

Having just assured the woman who had been suffering for years that her faith had made her well, Jesus turns his attention back to Jairus and his daughter. Again, he tells Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.” That is so much more easily said than done.

This has become a very noisy story. Imagine Jesus surrounded by a crush of people jostling for a closer look. The callousness in the words, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” The weeping and wailing outside of Jairus’ home. The laughter of those who heard Jesus say that “the child is not dead but sleeping.”

Only then is there a moment of peace. Jesus enters the child’s room and takes her by the hand. A touch. Then a word. Then the child is good as new. And then, as we’ve come to expect, Jesus tells them not to say anything to anyone about what they just witnessed. As if….

Both of these healing stories are ultimately about Jesus. What links them is the tension of fear and faith. Neither Jairus nor the bleeding woman let their fears stop them from approaching Jesus. Something made them through the fear – even the fear of rejection and disappointment. Was it their faith, their trust, their desperation? Does it matter?

We are so quick to wrongly disconnect faith and fear. We think of faith as a mental thing, a set of ideas and convictions and thoughts. We think of fear as an emotion, a feeling. Yet don’t our thoughts come wrapped up in feelings? And don’t our feelings come on the wings of thoughts? Are these really such separate things? I don’t think so.

When Jesus tells Jairus not to fear but only believe, he isn’t telling Jairus to deny his fears. Instead, Jesus is acknowledging the inevitability of his fear without surrendering to the idea that his fears will inevitably overwhelm or define him. He is inviting him to surrender to faith, to trust that Jesus has the power to write the end of this story.

We do well to let such trust inform our fears, even as we surrender our fears to our trust.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, not all stories have happy endings but you have given us a lot in the stories of this woman and this little girl and her family. There is so much that we fear in our world today, give us the trust that you hold the whole world in your hands. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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