"Do Not Be Afraid! Only Believe!"
November 8, 2009
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
My Young Daughter Is About To Die
1. A character by the name of Jairus, the synagogue leader, comes to the forefront in today's passage of scripture. The synagogue leader is the chief executive for the management of the synagogue's operations. However, he is not a mere manager of the building. He is a leader in the regional cooperative body that is focused on synagogues, and also he is a part of the decisions in various litigations. A man in that position came and laid himself before the feet of Jesus. This act itself, in a certain sense, ought to have been quite a surprise.
2. I say that because at this point in time the Jewish leadership had already taken a hostile view of Jesus. For example, when we look at chapter three, it is recorded that when Jesus entered a synagogue on one Sabbath day, there were persons there who were paying special attention as to whether Jesus would heal a person with a lame hand on the Sabbath because they wanted to accuse him formally. They were the Pharisees in leadership positions in the synagogue regional system. Were he to do the work of healing at that point and time, it would be obvious that he could be accused of a breach of the law and find himself entangled in legal troubles. But, aware of that though, Jesus did heal the person. Whereupon, the text states that "The Pharisees left, and immediately, with the Herodians, they began to discuss how they might kill Jesus," (3:6).
3. In this way then, the Jewish leaders hated Jesus and wanted to kill him. We can see quite clearly how under these conditions for a man who was a synagogue leader at the regional board level of leadership to lay himself prostrate before the feet of Jesus it would bring him nothing but trouble later on. Notwithstanding, Jairus did come and bow down before Jesus. Why [did he do that]? [He did it] because it was not a situation with which he could find fault [and remain objective and not do it]. His young daughter was sick. She was at the point of death. It was a crisis situation. It was a crisis situation greater than [if] he himself was sick. For that reason then, he sought help from Jesus.
4. Rumors of Jesus had already spread widely. He was well known as a person who performs miracles, as a person who casts out evil spirits and heals sickness. Therefore, stuff like "Everybody who was afflicted with a sickness tried to touch Jesus and came rushing in to be near him," (3:10) is written in the text. Jairus also had probably heard the rumors of Jesus as a healer of sicknesses and as a miraculous healer, a miracle worker. [He must have] also heard that Jesus had come back from the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and so he flew at full speed to the lakeside area. Of course, [he did that] to ask for him to cure his daughter's sickness. He went to Jesus and begged him as follows. "My young daughter is about to die. Please come and place your hand upon her. Then, my daughter will be rescued and she will live," (verse twenty-three).
5. Jesus gave in to his request and headed for Jairus' home with him. Great crowds of people in groups followed from behind. During this time, Jairus must have felt a great impatience burning within. He surely wanted to bring Jesus to his home as fast as he possibly could. His daughter was dying. He wanted to have Jesus lay his hand upon her right now. He wanted Jesus to heal her fast. He must have been crying out in his heart, "Faster, faster."
6. However, an incident takes place at that point. It is the part I skipped over in today's reading. A woman with a sickness involving a blood discharge that wouldn't stop for twelve years slipped into the crowd and then touched Jesus' clothes from behind. And her sickness was healed. But, it didn't end there. All of a sudden Jesus began to look for this person. He said, "Who touched my clothes?" She knew that she had been healed and shaking with fear she came forward and laid herself prostrate, and she told the truth. Whereupon, Jesus said to her, "Young lady, your faith has saved you. Go in peace! Not bound to being sick anymore, live healthfully!" Jesus wanted to present the healed woman with those [comforting] words.
7. The woman, to whom it was told, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace!," must have been very happy. But, [there we have] poor Jairus. What was running through his mind as he stood there during this time spent [with the lady in the crowd]? "Hey Jesus, what are you doing? Isn't this business [about looking for who touched you in a crowd] not worth worrying about? We're racing against time. If you do this kind of thing, we'll be too late! Don't you get it?"
8. And in fact they were too late. When Jesus had addressed that woman with "Young lady, your faith has saved you. Go in peace!," some people came from the synagogue leader's house and reported to him that "Your daughter has died. It's no use troubling the rabbi any further." It's over. [She's] completely done for. We're plumb out of possibilities. There's nothing we can do further. Our hopes are shot. But, in that moment when it seemed to be completely over in the eyes of human beings, Jesus said this: "Do not be afraid! Only believe!," (verse thirty-six).
9. "Do not be afraid! Only believe!" Today I would like to especially impress these words [from the Lord] upon our hearts. "Do not be afraid!" You know that this phrase "Don't be afraid" is found in the scriptures a lot, don't you? For example, as the words for whenever an angel has appeared. Or as the words of the prophets. Or as the words which God speaks as he appears in a dream. Any way, in most cases, it is with "Do not be afraid" that God addresses [people]. When you think about it, it makes sense because God alone is the one who can say "Do not be afraid" in the truest sense.
10. Please imagine it with me. If it were you, what kind of words would you offer to the person who was sinking to the floor after receiving the news that "Your daughter has died?" At that moment would you say, like he said, "Do not be afraid?" Could you say that confidently? I don't think you would or could say it as the normal thing to say. Any way you look at this, this is not a statement that comes from [normal] people. It is not a statement that comes from this world. Jesus could actually make this statement as God and with the authority of God. To someone sinking down to the bottom of the deep pit of despair he could speak the word of God, saying, "Do not be afraid! Only believe!"
11. What might the words of Jesus mean, I wonder? He is saying that even though it may look totally hopeless in the eyes of humankind, even though it may look like things are completely over, the option to "believe" is still there wherever you are.
12. It is already over. There is no more future ahead. When our hopes are shot and we can't look forward, we usually just look backward. How did it come to this? Why is it turning out this way? We say that and then blame ourselves, criticize somebody else, or we curse our fate and we curse God. After doing that we remain on in the darkness of utter hopelessness. We think that is the only choice we have. As a matter of fact, Jairus could have turned out that way. I wish I could have gotten him to realize a bit quicker how sick she was. Here I am in a hurry and of all the things to happen, this lady would have to touch Jesus. If it hadn't been for this one incident with this lady, perhaps we could have gotten there on time. Why is Jesus dilly-dallying, in the first place, when we're racing against time? Why? How come? Why? How come? Asking [himself] the same thing over and over like that in a circle, he would remain in the darkness of hopelessness. Wouldn't he?
13. However, Jesus says to Jairus in this state [of mind], "Do not be afraid! Only believe!" Having said that, Jesus proceeds forward [to Jairus' home]. Therefore, he has another option in this. It is the option "to believe." That's right. He follows believing Jesus and believing God. He will believe no matter what and follow no matter where. At first what Jairus was asking for was a healer of sickness. Jesus was that kind of being. But, now, it was not a mere healer who he was willing to have faith in. If [Jesus was just] a healer he would no longer need him. The people who came from his house said, "It's no use troubling the rabbi any further." But, the one whom Jairus is touching here is not a healer. He is touching God.
14. What is Jairus awaiting in the moments just ahead? He honestly does not know. Surely he does not suppose his daughter will come back to life from the dead. What is Jesus about to do? What is God about to do? What is going to happen now? Where is he heading [with this]? He doesn't know at all. But he does know just one thing. It is that the one who told him, "Do not be afraid! Only believe!," is with him. So, he followed him. Just believing and trusting, he followed.
15. After following him, what did Jairus see? He saw Jesus taking the hand of his child and saying to her, "Talitha, qum [Little girl, get up]!" Whereupon, the girl immediately got up and began to walk. Someone explained it as she had been in an asphyxiated state and it was just that she got her breath back and was revived. If anyone thinks that way and agrees with it, that's okay. Any how, the scripture does tell it as a miracle from the Christ. And when Christ has occasioned a miracle, then there is meaning to it. There is a message. There is a message not just for Jairus, but also for us at this later day.
16. What is that [message]? It is that when we are with Christ, then ultimately even death is not the end. It is that it is not hopeless. We are being given this message. We are not merely being told that something marvelous and miraculous had taken place. We have been given the message that we can have the choice not to despair even, ultimately, after coming face to face with death. We have the option "to believe." We should not be afraid, but just believe Christ and believe God. When we "believe," then even death cannot lock us up in hopelessness. Therefore, it means that everything else is even more unable to cut off our hope. -- Because whatever the hour, the choice "to believe" is left to us. Jesus is saying even to us, "Do not be afraid! Only believe!"