Wednesday, May 11, 2022

"Don't be afraid. Just trust me."

Jairus is desperate. Jairus' daughter is deathly ill and he has been frantically searching for Jesus in order to save her. He finds Jesus in the midst of a crowd and begs Jesus to come and heal his daughter so that she won't die. Jesus agrees and goes with him, but so does the enormous crowd that is there when Jairus asks. As they try to move through the crowd, Jairus' frustration grows uncontrollably. Don't these people know that my daughter is dying? Jairus thinks. Why won't they just get out of our way so that we can get to her before it's too late?

Then, suddenly, Jesus stops. Jairus keeps moving forward in his desperation to get Jesus to his daughter, only to discover that Jesus is no longer right behind him. Turning around, Jairus runs back to where Jesus is standing and he hears the disciples ask Jesus, "Don't you see how big this crowd is? How can you possibly ask us  who touched you?" Jairus considers organizing the disciples into a bodyguard to keep the crowds away from Jesus so that they can keep moving without anyone else touching him. But Jesus, at the moment, seems to have forgotten all about Jairus' daughter. He just stands there, looking around, scanning the faces of the crowd, trying to figure out who touched him.

Finally, an older woman steps forward and sheepishly admits that she touched Jesus. Ok, Jesus, tell her not to do it again and let's move on, Jairus silently pleads in his desperation to reach his daughter. But Jesus has a conversation with the woman. She begins going through her life story, explaining the illness she has had and telling Jesus all about the various doctors she has visited and the numerous treatments she has undergone and how much money she has spent on all these procedures. She tells Jesus how she had given up hope until she heard that he was coming through town. She speaks of deciding to try one more thing: sneaking through the crowd so that she could touch the hem of his robe, hoping that Jesus' power would heal her. She describes the difficulty she had in getting through the crowd in her weakened condition and the terror she experienced as she realized she might miss Jesus altogether.

Yes, but you obviously didn't, Jairus thinks. Now, please, you have been healed, my daughter is dying. Can we please move forward? But the woman continues telling her story and Jesus continues listening patiently. The woman describes how she finally made it through the crowd, tripping and stumbling to the ground just as Jesus passed and how she managed to reach out and just barely touch the hem of his robe. The woman recounts the feeling of power she felt sweep over her body and the strange sensation as her back began to strengthen and the infection she had lived with for so long burned out of her system. Before she even stood up, she says, she knew that she had been healed. She says that when she finally did stand up she saw Jesus looking around for someone and knew that she had been discovered.

The woman apologizes profusely, insisting that she didn't think anyone would know and that she never intended any disrespect. She begs forgiveness for being presumptuous but, even in her fear, Jairus can see that she is just barely containing her excitement at being healed. Ok, Jairus thinks impatiently,  my daughter is dying, can we move, please? We're almost there! But Jesus is clearly moved by the woman's story. He reaches out to her and he tells her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, you have been healed." The woman thanks Jesus profusely, as tears begin streaming down her cheeks in gratitude.

Just as Jesus turns to Jairus and he begins hoping that they can actually reach his daughter before she dies, Jairus feels a tap on his shoulder. Jairus turns to see two of his servants standing there, their eyes red from crying. "Master, she's dead," they tell him. "There's no point anymore in bringing the teacher." Jairus begins crying, and feels his strength disappear. His knees give way but he hasn't fallen. Jesus has placed his hands on Jairus' shoulder and, somehow, the touch keeps him upright. Jairus can't bring himself to look at Jesus, as despair and anger directed at the Teacher begin to stir inside him. But Jesus' touch somehow keep the feelings from overwhelming him. Jesus forces Jairus to look him in the eye and, very softly, Jesus says, "Don't be afraid. Just trust me."

With tears obscuring his vision, Jairus nods weakly and follows Jesus, who suddenly seems to know the way to Jairus' house. The thronging crowds, that just moments before refused to let him move forward, seem to have given way and a path has opened up. Jesus arrives at Jairus' home and discovers the mourners have already begun singing and wailing their laments. Jesus walks into the home and interrupts the singing. "Why are you all so worked up? The girl isn't dead. She is only asleep." Jairus hears Jesus' words and hope stirs for just a moment before the mourners respond, "Don't you think we know what death looks like? You're a fool!"

Jairus feels a set of arms around him as his broken wife rushes into him, abandoning all sense of decorum. She is sobbing uncontrollably. Jairus wants to say something to comfort her, but his lips refuse to form the words. Jairus hears Jesus commanding the crowds to leave but Jairus' vision has dimmed and he can't see whether they are leaving or not. His chest begins to heave and he holds his wife as they weep together. Slowly, Jairus realizes that the room has become deathly silent and he looks up to see Jesus standing in front of him. Placing a hand on their shoulders, Jesus gently says, "Let's go to her."

Without thinking, Jairus' feet slowly shuffle toward the little girl's room. Three of Jesus' disciples have accompanied them while the others have remained outside to hold back the crowd. At a nod from Jesus, one of the disciples closes the door. Jairus tries not to look, but his eyes move immediately to the still, lifeless form of his precious baby girl.

My daughter is dead.

Jairus begins sobbing uncontrollably, and Jairus' wife buries her head in his chest, unable to look anymore. Jesus touches Jairus' shoulder again and Jairus hears Jesus' words from the street echo in his mind, "Don't be afraid. Just trust me." Jairus nods as if responding to the words again and watches as Jesus walks over to the bed. Jesus kneels down beside the bed and takes the girl's hand. Just loud enough for Jairus and his wife to hear, Jesus whispers, "Little girl, get up."

Jairus wants to laugh, mocking Jesus for his stupidity. But his daughter's chest moves. Convinced his eyes are playing tricks on him, Jairus watches closely. Again, her chest expands and contracts. Jairus can hear the sound of her breathing. Jairus' wife suddenly stops crying, looking toward the bed, drawn by a sound she never thought she would hear again. Jairus' baby girl opens her eyes and sits up. She sees Jesus, whose smile is so big it fills the room. She gives him a questioning look and Jesus nods. A moment later, she is running across the room, leaping into her father's arms. Jairus feels her arms around his neck and the warmth of her breath on his face as she hugs him. Jairus' wife simply stands in disbelief, unable to move while Jairus twirls his little girl around the room, the sound of her laughter echoing off the walls.

Jesus walks to the door and opens it saying, "Don't tell anyone about this." Jairus settles his little girl into place on his hip and nods, without really understanding. "Oh," Jesus adds, "and she probably needs something to eat."

Suddenly, Jesus is gone. The disciples have moved on. The mourners have crowded back into the room and gather around, pestering Jairus and his wife with questions for which they have no answers. For this moment, Jairus' entire world consists of his wife and his little girl, as he holds each of them closely to him. With tears still slipping down his face, Jairus remembers Jesus' words. "Don't be afraid. Just trust me."

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