Mark 5:22-23 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja'irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and besought him, saying, "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."
How do you ask for something? Something you want, something you think you need, something you believe that you cannot live without? It sort of depends on who you are asking, doesn’t it? Parents may simply tell their children to do something, this is appropriate, as they have authority over their children. And even if they are telling them to do their chores, they are asking them to obey their command. There are consequences for not obeying, so much so that children do often think there is no choice, for who would choose punishment? It is my understanding that military training takes things one step further, so that while children do not question whether they should obey their parents or not, a recruit’s only question, when the lieutenant says "jump!" Is "How High? Sir."
It is one thing to ask for something that you believe you are owed, that is perhaps something you can demand. It is another thing to ask for something that you have neither earned nor deserved. In our lesson, the ruler of the synagogue doesn’t presume that God owes him anything, even though he is devout, even though he is ruler of the synagogue. He is in need, and he humbles himself before Jesus, he doesn’t just fall to his knees, he prostrates himself, he falls flat on his face, and pleads for help. It might not seem like much, but he is saying to Jesus, and all around – I am not worthy, I am powerless and in my weakness I turn to you for help, have mercy on – and this is the important part – for he does not ask for himself, he asks help for his daughter.
Parents may tell their children to do a variety of things, but it is not because they are dictators, it is because God has entrusted the training of their children to the parents, and part of that training is learning to obey. It is easier to let the children do whatever, but parents discipline their children because they love them. And the depth of this love is seen in the lengths they will go to provide everything that their children need.
And here is where the problem comes in, because en route, while ever second counts, there is an interruption and a delay – something which might make it seem like God doesn’t care, or that he is slow to respond. You see, there is another person in need in the crowd, someone who does not even believe they are worthy enough to ask for help. This women, who is afraid to ask, believes that if she so much as touches Jesus clothes, she will be healed, and so, without asking, she reaches out in faith and touches Jesus, and is healed. And even though there is a crowd, Jesus knows what has happened, and everything comes to a stop, and Jesus asks "who touched me?" And the women, in fear and trembling falls before him and confesses. And she is forgiven, and healed
Now comes the bad news, Jairus’s daughter is dead. If Jesus hadn’t delayed, if it weren’t for that woman – it is not hard to be impatient when things are not going according to our plan – it is not hard to feel we have a right to be angry when someone seems to have thwarted our plans. And it is not hard to give in to despair – it is much harder to keep the faith.
And so it is that Jesus says, "Do not fear, only believe." We don’t know how strong their faith was – but we do know that no one thought possible what was about to happen – for Jesus, on arriving at the house, went in, and said to the little girl, arise – and she did – and her parents were overcome with amazement.
That’s the power of Jesus – it may not happen according to our schedule – it may not be according to our plan – but God does promise to provide for us everything we need, each day. This is the love of God, which is ours in Jesus Christ.