While Jesus was still speaking to the woman, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”
36 But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat. – Mark 5:35-43
A high wire acrobat gathers a crowd and walks a few feet out over a deep chasm. He returns and asks the crowd, “Do you believe I can go all the way across and back?”
“Yes!” they yell.
After doing so, He asks, “Do you believe I can push this wheelbarrow across and back?”
“Yes!” they yell again.
After doing so, He asks, “Do you believe I can push this wheelbarrow across and back with someone in it?”
One more time the cheer goes up: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
“OK,” he says, Who will get into the wheelbarrow while I push it across?”
Then there was silent.
While it’s true: faith’s strength is in its object (see Monday’s post), it’s also true that having an object for your faith without putting your faith into play is futile. A trapeze artist who has strong faith in a strong and sturdy net, but who refuses to fly through the air is no trapeze artist. James says that faith without works is dead. I say that a worthy object of faith, be it God’s promises, Jesus’ victory over sin and death, or God’s word, and never relying on that foundation, is no faith. It’s “the demons believe and shudder in fear” non-faith.
When confronted with the news that his daughter had died, Jesus simply says, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” Faith replaces fear. Faith emboldens hearts. Faith sustains us when times are challenging. And sometimes we simply must engage our faith. We must take the promises of God and the gifts of Jesus and apply them to our lives. We must believe.
Challenges to doing that come in the face of illness, temptation, guilt, and shame. It’s one thing to live in grace, with the confidence of our eternal salvation centering our hearts on a daily basis, when the rhythms of life are predictable and good. That is true faith. We can have that kind of faith in our sleep. It’s quite another to call on God’s promises intentionally when we are in urgent need of answered prayers, or when we face temptation or dark nights of the soul.
But this call of Jesus is so powerfully strong and pointed, that we should actually take it to heart intentionally. Perhaps these words of Jesus to Jairus are words we need to hear. This command is a command we need to obey.
What are you facing this day to which Jesus would say, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”? Let him take you by the hand and lift you up and give you life, hope, courage, and an even stronger faith through it all.