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Jairus’ pilgrimage of faith

Mark 5 21-43

Jairus’ daughter – a pilgrimage of faith

24 a large crowd

25 and a woman

35 Men from the house of Jairus

36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler

“Don’t be afraid, just believe.”

This lovely story, in which are interwoven the accounts of a desperate father and a chronically ill woman, shows us how Jesus ministered to the needs of his time.

But it is also a lesson in the ways that Jesus deals with a whole range of individuals and situations.

Seen from the perspective of Jairus, it is a lesson in interruptions.

The path that Jairus takes is not smooth and predictable – it is full of small and large frustrations and many CHALLENGES – I suspect that we may be able to identify with the way that Jairus went.

As the narrative begins Jesus agrees to go with Jairus to heal his critically ill daughter.

Already Jairus has demonstrated a considerable faith :

"My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live."

He begins his journey with Jesus close by – but almost at once there are obstacles to their progress – interruptions if you will – that will test the faith of Jairus sorely.

Notice that Mark does not tell us that Jairus was concerned by these delays – but it seems a very natural observation. He whose need was so acute must have felt the constraint of the crowd, the woman, the messengers very deeply. It is only in the last interruption – that of Jesus Himself to the man that there is hope and purpose.

These were the interruptions to Jairus’ pilgrimage on behalf of his daughter :

A large crowd followed … and pressed around him

A woman was there …

Some men came from Jairus’ house

Jesus himself interrupts

As we look at these influences we may well recognise a parallel with our own experience.

Now it is clear that what Jesus has started He will indeed finish.

As Paul says

Phil 1:6

he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

But from Jairus’ point of view it must have seemed that the result was often in doubt. So many things got in the way.

Some of these things are quite commonplace – but very frustrating – others, like the woman with the haemorrhage, were needy people too. Jesus deals not just with us – but with others also. He is not so hurried as to fail to deal with the woman’s need as perfectly as that of Jairus’ daughter.

A. The Crowd v 24b

Wherever Jesus went publicly there were crowds. Mostly they came out of curiosity, hoping to see something unusual. They were the ordinary hazards of the time.

The nature of such crowds is to behave selfishly – not to clear a way for Jairus and Jesus to progress quickly to his home.

We do not know whether Jairus had had to summon up the effort to leave his wife at home with his dying daughter in a last ditch attempt to get help – or whether it was his early intention to involve the Master – but now that he has found Him, he has fallen at his feet and pleaded earnestly.

He has done what he could – now it is up to the Lord. But the crowd presses around.

There will be hindrances on the way of our pilgrimage!

Some will not be because of our lack of faith – but they will be the ordinary delays that beset us.

Jairus has to trust at such a time that Jesus goes with him. That He will not let him down – that He cannot do.

You and I too must hold on to the fact that – if we have entrusted ourselves to the love and grace of the Lord Jesus HE GOES WITH US and HE CANNOT FAIL.

Sure – there will be times when the simple pressure of events – like the pressing of the crowd here – will challenge our faith and our spiritual progress.

B. The Woman vv25-34

25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She 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. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed."

Oh no!

Jesus is stopping – looking round, asking “Who touched me?” and it seems that Jairus is side-lined.

Some argue that in this interruption Jairus learned faith. I don’t know. I think at the beginning it must have irked him. Perhaps as he witnessed what Jesus did for her it increased his faith.

He learned that Jesus has other priorities – this woman too has exercised a remarkable faith – and Jesus will show her that He cares and heals – and He will show that to Jairus too.

If Jairus had simply looked at the circumstances and not heard Jesus’ words to the woman – he would have been fretting.

But as he listens and watches he sees how this woman had come in faith. And that Jesus will not let her leave until He has reassured her that the healing she acquired “by stealth” had His blessing. That must have encouraged him.

Others are coming to Jesus all the time. No longer is Jesus limited in His physical presence to a particular place – He works here and there in the world and in His church. But often our priorities are not His!

How many times have you asked Him to help – and wondered that He seemed to delay – been challenged by the different experience of others on a similar road?

We will see the lives of others and how they are changed and altered by the work of Jesus – and we might be tempted to think that He should deal with us in exactly the same ways. His work is perfect – it is also individual.

The next interruption was more critical:

C. The men from Jairus’ house v35

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?"

This was surely a heart-stopping moment!

Their words were sensible – common sense even – “it’s too late!”

These words interrupted Christ as He was speaking to the woman – but the effect is for Jairus a harsh direct challenge.

Perhaps you have experienced this kind of interruption?

It is representative of all those moments of crucial doubt and uncertainty.

This is a specially trying interruption – when the weight of other’s opinions,. and the seeming logic of other’s words – strike at the heart of our movement with Christ – on the path to deliverance!

It intrudes

It exploits despair

It challenges faith

INTRUDES – Satan’s work is always intrusive and interrupting. It cuts across all Jairus’ hope and what confidence he had in Jesus who went with him.

EXPLOITED DESPAIR – It is one of the great obvious statements uttered by the unspiritual world. It is rooted in fact – but has nothing of faith.

I hope that Mark has abbreviated the words – for otherwise they would appear tactless in the extreme. For Jairus it was the worst news he could expect.

Our pilgrimage of faith will also be challenged by the unbelieving messengers of “real life”. They stand upon the obvious and the appearance of reality. They deny the possibility of Jesus’ power.

CHALLENGED FAITH “Why bother the master any more?”

I can hear these words in so many different circumstances – when we are up against the harsh and even bitter realities of life – this is the interruption that is aimed at demolishing what faith remains

“Why bother the master any more?”


D. Jesus – The Final Interruption v36

Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." The last interruption is THE VOICE OF JESUS

Jesus, who all along had the timetable of Jairus’ salvation always clear before Him – interrupted the challenge of earthly wisdom and issued a three fold wonder :

Don’t’ fear

Only believe

“and raised her up”

Two statements – and a glorious action:


The words work because they are His

The secret of absence of fear lies in a steady obedience despite all.


The NIV makes it sound even easier (!) “just believe”

Some people make faith sound so simple. In one sense it very rarely is. It is subject to the “slings and arrows” of experience.


It is witnessed to over and over again in Scripture and in the history of God’s people

Abraham believed

By faith …. A whole catalogue of people

Faced with the seemingly impossible

Laid hold of God

Here it is not a developed theology of a faith – it simply transcends the desperate facts of life with GOING ON WITH JESUS

Jairus might have – indeed almost certainly did at that moment of harsh intrusion given up SO JESUS INTERRUPTS WITH A CHALLENGE TO STAY CLOSE TO HIM. But that was not all ….

HE NOT ONLY interrupted – He INTERVENED -

through the crowd that thronged the doorway (another interrupting crowd full of the clamour of mourning) – with a selected group to witness His power.

Christ’s words and His actions CHALLENGE LIFE AT ITS CORNERS, it’s turning points – it’s INTERRUPTIONS.

HIS is the final interruption –

And this morning He issues the same challenge to us.




It may sound too easy “just believe” but in fact it is Jesus saying to our troubled hearts “TRUST ME – that’s all”.

The alternative is stark: “DON’T TROUBLE THE MASTER ANY LONGER”

I wonder where you are on this Jairus road – this pilgrimage?

v Challenged by the pressing in of the crowd?

v Worried that others seem to have a prior claim on His work of healing?

v Tempted to give up by the harsh logic of an unbelieving world?


v Hearing His voice “Don’t be afraid – just believe!” and GOING ON WITH JESUS?

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