I gave this talk on May 22nd 2016 at my church. If Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) Church is your thing or of interest continue reading! If not, it's up to you to continue.
Before I get started, I want to encourage you to listen with your spiritual ears, that is pay attention more to what may not be said but is felt.
In my family we are still reading the junior version of the scriptures. You know, the scripture stories with pictures. I have found this quite refreshing as I have learned simply the stories contained in the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants.
There is one story that we have read over, and over, and over again; 1) because it is my daughters favourite New Testament story 2) because I as a father struggle with this story because it pulls at my heart strings. It reads:
"One day, Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, fell at the Savior's feet. Jairus said that his 12-year-old daughter was very ill. He begged Jesus to come and bless her. He believed that Jesus could make her better. Jesus started to follow Jairus home,"
Up to this point, I am in full agreement with what is happening.
Jairus was a man of rank and prestige whom the Jews looked upon with great respect, because he was a ruler of a synagogue, not just one of the elders that presided over a synagogue, but the chief or the ruler that directed the elders.
Reading in the ADULT scriptures, no pictures, we learn more detail about what Jairus' reaction was. In Mark it reads: “And when he saw him [that is, when Jairus saw Jesus], he fell at his feet.”
What an unusual reaction for such a noble man. This was a ruler, the highest level one could attain in a synagogue, we might even say in our LDS church language a Bishop or Stake President, kneeling and falling at the feet of the Saviour. Did you notice that no one else has?
And what has driven this man of rank and prestige to his knees? His calling as father, the love for his daughter, he is in desperate need for help for his cherished 12-year old daughter. In this moment, nothing else matters, just his daughters well-being. You can tell, by just listening to his trembling words: “I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.” As President Howard W. Hunter said, he is a father torn with grief.
But let's take the Lord's perspective here too. Quoting President Hunter: "The Master had [just] come back across the sea where the multitude was waiting on the shore for him to teach them. … He was interrupted by the plea of a father. He could have ignored the request because many others were waiting. He could have said to Jairus that he would come to see his daughter tomorrow, but “Jesus went with him.”"
Just imagine the jubilation Jairus is experiencing right now, this learned man who knows Jesus' capabilities and has expressed faith in His ability to heal, now has the Saviour of mankind following him to his house to heal his daughter. Prayers have been answered, my daughter is saved.
Then we read in the children's version: "but he stopped to heal a woman." Wait what? Were we not already on our way to save a 12 year old girl, and Jesus stops to heal someone? How infuriating. We can't stop now.
We read in Luke the following account: "But as he went the people thronged him. And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,"
Wait, I know this story. This is the story of the woman who touches Jesus' robe, this story is embedded here, interrupting Jairus? Why now? The Saviour and His disciples have already altered their plans to help Jairus.
We continue reading in Luke: "[that she] Came [up] behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. [she was cured] And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?"
I can see why Peter is frustrated. They have already changed their plans from teaching to following a ruler to his house. Then they are swarmed by people as they try to get there, and Jesus is asking "who touched me?"
I'm going to take some scriptural liberty here as I use my own fatherly reaction to try to understand Jairus' reaction, which is probably similar to Peter's. "Look, you have already agreed to help me, my daughter is on her death bed, and you are asking in this mob of people, who touched me?!"
Jesus responds while looking around I'm sure, "Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me."
And then a woman steps forward. "She declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately"
Jesus responds "Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
Can you see Jairus vibrating in fury? Not only did Jesus stop to find out who touched Him, But it was a woman who has a issue of blood that touched him. She is considered unclean, has been socially excluded, and is not allowed in a synagogue, but now he is conversing with her.
Suddenly someone from Jairus' house came and said "Thy daughter is dead." Now I can see Jairus loosing it as he is emotionally flooded. How could this happen? Did the Saviour forget that Jairus is a ruler, a Bishop/Stake President, living worthily, doing everything he should be doing, and yet, the Saviour stopped to heal someone, a random citizen, a commoner, someone who wasn't as noble, prestigious, or as high ranked. Plus she has been unclean for the past 12 years! And now, because of this dodling, Jairus' daughter is dead!
And how did Jesus respond when he heard this: "Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole." Comforting, but if I'm Jairus, my faith tank is running low. I'm now even more grief stricken. I can't help but hear the plea of "It's too late" Saving her while she is ill is one thing, saving her from death is another, if not impossible. And all your telling me is to "fear not" and "believe"? However, “Be not afraid, only believe” is powerful counsel for people in need of a miracle. Fear and faith do not mix together well.
I want to pause here. Because I know I am guilty of this, consider it the Jonah effect, that is that I am more deserving of the Lord's blessing than those that are hidden and not practicing their faith, and therefore they are not deserving of the Lord's Atonement. Well, that thinking wound Jonah up in a whale until he realized ALL are eligible for the Saviour's Atonement. Every one on the earth, regardless of what they do, can have faith in Jesus Christ, repent and then come unto the fold by being baptized and receiving the Holy Ghost.
Or maybe it is the other side. That we question why those all around us appear to receive blessings and not us. Then we question, are we even worthy of blessings? In C.S. Lewis' book The Horse & His Boy (part of the Narnia series), Aasland, the Lion who represents the Lord, says "Child... I am telling you your story, not [theirs]. No one is told any story but their own." - I take from this, that we can't look at our life story and compare it to someone else's, and then judge for ourselves who should get blessings and who shouldn't. We each are starring in our own life story, and we don't get all the details of others, we only know ours.
When I question if I am worthy, I personally tell my wife, and my children, that we know we are worthy if we are holding a current temple recommend. However, current worthiness does not equal immediate blessings.
Regarding the woman with the blood issue of 12 years, we know very little of her story, we don't even know her name. But yet she is a crucial part of the story.
Back to Jairus and his daughter. This has certainly been a delay, and a faith tester for Jairus.
When they got to Jairus' house, Jesus asked everyone to leave because they were creating a scene that was not appropriate or conducive for a miracle, except for Peter, James, John, Jairus and his wife. Talk about a special moment, the Lord and the "First Presidency" (Peter, James & John) alone in your house. Jesus tenderly "took the [girl] by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha Koum; ...Little Girl, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the [girl] arose, and walked."
In the last moment, when all things are seemingly hopeless in the 5th watch, Jesus came, blessed Jairus and his wife by performing an astounding miracle of bringing their daughter back from the dead.
How relieved Jairus must have felt in this moment. How much love and joy.
The Saviour will always bless us, if we but reach out to him. It doesn't matter if we are a ruler over a congregation or a struggling saint on the street. Jesus is there, waiting for us. The Savior’s compassion and power to heal are extended to all, regardless of social standing.
The main principles to take away from this is that: 1) Acting on our faith in Jesus Christ can make us whole. 2) When our faith in Jesus Christ is sufficient to move us to action, we too can receive His healing power, both spiritually and physically, in our lives.
In closing, I want to end with the words of Elder David A. Bednar, who said: “In a moment of weakness we may cry out, ‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’ But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens, And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy."