In the Gospel lesson for Sunday, we are introduced to several new characters: Jairus, his daughter, the women with the issue of blood, and professional mourners among them. This morning, I’d like to focus on just the first part of the Jairus story.
We are introduced to Jairus after “Jesus had crossed again to the other side.” Apparently, the story of Gerasene demoniac, his legion of demons, and the context clues the story offers, is worth skipping. Anyway, Jesus arrives back near shore and is immediately surrounded by a huge crowd. One of that number is a man, who Mark tells us is a leader in the synagogue, named Jairus. Jairus’s daughter is very ill; “at the brink of death,” he tells us. He asks Jesus to come with him and to lay hands on her “so that she can be made well.”
Jairus is a Greek version of an originally Semitic name, “Jair,” which means something to the effect of “he enlightens.” This name seems significant in the “Mark doesn’t give a lot of details” sort of way, as Jairus is himself very enlightened. Even in the midst of the Messianic Secret, Jairus is able to see Jesus for who he really is. His eyes are open to see the light of Christ at work in the world. And so, the enlightened one approaches Jesus with full confidence in his ability to heal his daughter. Listen again to his words.
“My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”
Jairus has every confidence that Jesus can do what he is asking, no matter how ridiculous the request might seem. He is enlightened to the power of God in Jesus. I can’t help but wonder how often we have such faith? How often do we approach Jesus with the confidence that what we ask for is within his power? This isn’t to say that if we ask, it will happen. We all know stories of prayers that have gone unanswered for various reasons, but what the opening of this story does seem to invite of we who are people of faith to approach the throne of God with confidence, certain of his love for us.