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Tony's Reflection 54
Were you one of the 13.6 million people who watched Prince Philip’s funeral on live TV? We were all moved by the sight of the Queen sitting in the service, dignified as always, but all alone. Our hearts went out to her. As one journalist put it, “The nation wanted to give her a hug”. What can you do to console someone who has lost their partner of 73 years?
How do you comfort a man who loses his daughter, at only 12 years old? That is the scene played out for us in this week’s episode from Mark’s biography
The worst has not yet happened for Jairus, the girl’s father, when the story begins.
He has, though, been afraid it might. His darling little girl has been so ill. Jairus and his wife have been there for her, of course. But there has been nothing they can do. They have had to watch helpless as their daughter has just got worse and worse. They stand together, staring silently at the bed. There is nothing more that can be done. Nothing more that can be said.
Jairus looks out of his window. There is excitement outside. A stark contrast with the empty sadness inside that house.
“What’s going on?” asks Jairus.
“It’s Jesus. He’s just arrived, down by the lake.” The streets are alive with people, streaming to the lakeside.
Jesus… Jairus has definitely heard of him. You see Jairus is a leader in the synagogue, a Jewish chapel. He knows all about Jesus… Jesus had come to the synagogue as a guest speaker. There had been something strangely engaging about him as he taught. It felt as if he spoke directly from God. There were miracles, too. The masses were utterly convinced. But they were common people. They had no religious training. The Scripture experts, those who really knew what they were talking about, didn’t go much on him.
Jairus had remained cautiously cynical. But was this a time for holding back? His precious little girl murmured pitifully, now deeply unconscious. Jesus had done some spectacular miracles. He could heal her too, couldn’t he? Yes, of course he could…if he wanted to.
Jairus left the house and battled through the crowd, all the way down to the lakeside. Would he ever get a look in, though? Could he get anywhere near Jesus?
At last Jairus can see him. The crowd recognise their synagogue leader. They respectfully part, allowing Jairus an easy final path towards Jesus. They are curious. The synagogue leader? Why is he here? Come to pick a quarrel with Jesus?
There are no such questions for Jairus. There is no pride, either. He sees Jesus there in front of him. Leaving the dignity of his office far behind, Jairus throws himself helplessly on the floor at Jesus’ feet. If Jesus would only come to his house… I know you are busy Jesus, but if only you can spare the time to come… If you will pray for my daughter I know she will get well. Tears of desperation well up. Jairus has been rehearsing what he will say all the way to Jesus, but now he is there he can barely get his words out.
“Yes, Jairus. Of course I’ll come. Show me the way.”
Jairus is on his feet in a flash. His heart is still in his mouth, but now he is beside himself with excitement. He doesn’t need to push his way through the crowd, this time. They willingly make way and many follow, eager to see what will happen next. Jairus hurries on, looking back over his shoulder to make sure Jesus is still following.
What’s happening? Jesus has stopped. Doesn’t he know this is urgent? He’s asking questions about who touched him? What’s the matter? He’s being jostled by a huge crowd. Of course people are going to touch him… now he’s stopping to talk to a woman. She looks deeply disturbed. Oh Jesus, please don’t take too long.
Then comes the news from home. The news Jairus dreaded. “Hey Jairus. It’s too late. She’s dead. No point in bothering the teacher now… “
A cold sword plunges deep into Jairus’ heart. He bows his head and the tears flow freely. If only Jesus hadn’t stopped for that woman…
A reassuring hand gently squeezes Jairus’ shoulder. It’s Jesus. He has been watching Jairus all the time. Never let him out of his sight. “I’ve got this… trust me.”
“But she’s dead,” mumbles Jairus through the tears.
“Just trust me…”
Jesus strides on. Jairus follows. Jesus knows what he’s doing. Maybe it isn’t too late after all. Could he really bring someone back from the dead?
As they reach the house, they hear the wailing and crying around the dead girl.
“What’s all the fuss for?” says Jesus, “she’s only asleep.” He is met by a wave of derision and anger. How could he be so insensitive? Everyone knows she’s dead…
Jesus orders everyone to stand back and leave the girl’s room. No one dares disobey and they dutifully melt away. Jesus goes into the room. He asks three of his immediate band in with him. He takes Jairus by the hand and leads him in. “Just trust me.” The girl’s mother follows, too.
Jesus kneels by the bed. The body is stiff and cold. Lifeless. He whispers in her ear, just loud enough to be heard. “Hey little girl, it’s time to get up.” How often had Jairus woken his daughter up with the same words, when she had been trying to stay just a little longer in bed?
The little girl stirs and slowly gets up. She stifles a yawn. “Breakfast time?” says Jesus with a smile.
You see, waking someone up from death is as simple for Jesus as waking up someone from sleep.
Everyone who dies trusting in Jesus is going to be “woken up” from death in just the same way, by him on that day when the world as we know it will come to an end.
A new home in heaven will lie open, waiting to be explored and enjoyed with him. That is our hope, our consolation.
For all who trust Jesus, death has just lost its sting.