Jairus: The Return of a Daughter

My name is Jairus and I live in Capernaum on the west side of the Sea of Galilee. The Lord has blessed me with a prosperous fish-drying business. I work closely with Zebedee and Jonah and their sonsóJames, John, Simon, and Andrew, who are commercial fisherman. An even more significant blessing was the Lord's gift of a daughter later in life. Most would have given up hope by middle age, but not my wife Leah. She kept telling me about Sarah. Eventually she did give birth to a girl whom we named Abby, which means source of joy.

Twelve years have passed since Abby's birth, and I have tried to be a good father and at the same time a good citizen. Several years ago the rabbi took me aside and asked me to serve as ruler of our synagogue. My responsibilities would be supervising the worship service, running the weekly school, and caring for the buildings. The workers at my fish-drying business were loyal and honest, so I was able to divide my time between my business and the synagogue. I enjoyed this new responsibility because I could be around the students in the school.

For many months a man named Jesus, who had moved to Capernaum from Nazareth, had been a regular speaker in our synagogue. I loved to listen to Jesus because He knew the Scriptures so well. Sometimes He would tell a parable to make a point more understandable. But while I enjoyed Jesus, I knew the Pharisees didn't, for they were often the object of Jesus' criticism.

Recently, Abby awoke in the night with a high fever. Over the next few days, Leah and I and the doctor did everything we could to make her well, but the illness only worsened. Abby even lost interest in the new lamb she had been caring for.

In times past, when Andrew delivered fish, he had told me stories about Jesus healing the sick. Up until now I had not talked to Jesus because I feared that the Pharisees would ask me to resign from my job as ruler.

But in my desperation, I decided to take the risk and began to look for Jesus. Upon finding Him, I fell at His feet and begged Him saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Please come and lay your hands on her, that she may get well and live."

I don't know whether it was because of my desperation or because of my daughter's illness that He came, but He said not another word and went along with me. When we rounded the last corner on the road to my house, Thad, my messenger, appeared walking swiftly toward us. I knew he had bad news for me because of the expression on his face. Thad could hardly speak, but he finally managed to blurt out, "Abby is dead, so there is no use in troubling Jesus now."

Dead? She couldn't be. She is my little girl. I turned to look up into the eyes of Jesus, and He looked back at me with a steady gaze and said, "Don't be afraid, Jairus, only believe."

As we approached my house, we could hear the people inside loudly weeping and wailing. But this didn't seem to stop Jesus as He walked into their midst and said, "Why all this weeping and wailing? The child isn't dead. She is only asleep!"

Of course, the people laughed and jeered at Him saying, "Don't you think we recognize a dead person when we see one?"

Then Jesus told them all to leave. Everyone suddenly became very quiet and one by one got up from their place on the floor mat and walked out of the house. Then He motioned for Leah and me along with Simon, James, and John to come with Him into Abby's room. Her lifeless little body lay limply on the bed covered by the blanket her grandmother had woven for her birthday.

Then Jesus walked up beside the bed and took Abby's hand in His saying, "Get up, little girl!"

Immediately Abby's big brown eyes opened, she pushed back the covers, sat up, and looked around. Still holding Jesus' hand, she let Him help her to her feet. With a smile Abby held out her arms to her mother who reached to embrace her. Leah's cheeks were wet with tears of joy as she hugged her little girl. After a few moments, Abby looked at me over her mother's shoulder and asked about her lamb.

Unable to contain myself any longer, I grabbed Abby from her mother's arms and swung her round and round. With tears unashamedly rolling down my cheeks, I turned to Jesus and said, "Thank you. You have brought me life."

Then Jesus said a very peculiar thing. He told me not to tell anyone and to get Abby something to eat. Getting her a fruit to eat was no problem, but how could I keep the rest of this a secret?

Based on Mark 5:22-24,35-42; Luke 8:41-42,49-56; Matt. 4:21,16:17.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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