21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Mark 5:21-24,35-43

What is the name of the food critique who just took his life? What is the name of the designer who just took her life? How many people were killed at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis? These terrible events are characterized by fear. Whether it was the fear of those who took their lives; the fear they had of facing another day and the fear that drove them to choose what they perceived as nonexistence in death rather than being alive and aware of their suffering in this world. Or the fear of those who were killed by the gunman, the fear of their families watching and waiting for the phone call. Our lesson today from Mark 5 is not directly about suicide or mass shootings, but it is about fear and death. These are terrible realities of life, but in the face of all these things Jesus words remain true, don’t be afraid; just believe.

At this point in Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ fame had begun to spread among the people and crowds formed when he came to town. They knew he was a healer, miracle worker and great teacher, so we are not surprised when Mark tells us that

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.

The crowds around Jesus are not surprising, but one individual does surprise us. Mark writes that a synagogue leader named Jairus came to see Jesus. These leaders of the synagogues are equivalent to our modern-day church president or elder. Many of these synagogue leaders had heard enough about Jesus not to be a fan of his as he seemed to be undermining and questioning the religious establishment. It is odd that Jairus would seek out Jesus, until we hear why. Jairus fell at Jesus feet and

23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”

Jairus’ world had been turned upside down as his daughter lay dying. The fear that gripped him quickly overcame any rumors that Jesus was a rebel or false teacher and he ran to the only one who might be able to help him, Jesus.

As soon as Jesus heard the desperate man’s plea, he followed after him, assuring Jairus that his daughter was going to be alright. The fear he had felt at the thought of losing his daughter was finally starting to fade away, despite still having to fight his way through the crowds to get to his home and remain in Jesus’ sight. The fear was leaving until Jesus stopped. When Jairus saw Jesus stop, his heart likely skipped a beat as time to heal his daughter before she died was slipping away, but Jesus had to stop. Someone else was afraid and had reached out to him from the crowd for a healing, the kind of healing only Jesus can provide.

As Jesus and Jairus were walking to his home, where his daughter lay dying, a woman who had been suffering from bleeding for twelve years reached out and touched Jesus, believing she would then be healed. Despite the crowds and many people touching him, Jesus felt the woman reach out to him and his power heal her. Jesus stopped and asked who it was who had touched him. The woman was startled, but came forward, not sure what to expect and told Jesus what she had done. And Jesus

34 said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

As Jairus watched his heart was bursting inside him as he was seeing Jesus do for this woman what he desperately wanted him to do for his daughter. And after Jesus assured this woman that she was healed, at peace and freed from suffering, the news came that seemed to change everything.

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Before they were done speaking, Jairus thoughts must have instantly gone to frustration that Jesus stopped, jealously that this woman had been healed, and hopeless fear. His daughter was dead and nothing could be done to save her.

Moments where our hope is obliterated by fear put our faith to the ultimate test. Jairus had put his faith in Jesus to heal his daughter, but that hope was wiped away when he got the news that his daughter had died. Jairus fear that death was the end threatened to wipe out any trace of hope and faith in Jesus. I did not know Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade or the families of the victims from the latest mass shooting, but I know that fear threatens faith. Fear when it is all consuming and taken to its final end is lack of faith. Fear means we are experiencing something that we do not know how to survive. A situation in our lives has left us defenseless and vulnerable to the point where we do not believe there is a way or resources or place or person to turn to that can help us. Those fears haunt all of us, so what is that fear for you? Do you fear public ridicule or embarrassment? Do you fear public speaking? Do you fear being alone? Do you fear losing a child? Do you fear death?

When we stop to confront our greatest fears, then we understand what Jairus felt as he stood hearing the news that his daughter had died. The news came so quickly, but would affect him for the rest of his life and was a reminder of the ruined lives we all lead. And the devil was there eager to drive him down the path of rejecting faith and hope and God. All of this was happening so fast in Jairus’ overwhelmed mind and he was too tired to fight back, but Jesus was there and said,

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

As soon as Jairus got the fearful news that his daughter was dead, Jesus told him just want he needed to hear. Jesus revealed that he knew Jairus greatest need in that moment was to be assured that he need not be afraid. In place of that fear, Jesus told him that he needed to believe. Jesus did not tell him to believe in a tough it out even though it hurts or focus on what you still have sense, but believe in something real and true. He was telling Jairus to believe in him as Jesus the Savior, God, the miracle worker who was going to do what he had set out to do and heal his daughter.

Jesus took his three closest disciples, Peter, James and John, and went to Jairus’ house. When they got to the home, it was a mess, as you can imagine, after the death of a young girl. There were people crying and wailing loudly….and Jesus

39 went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.

Some of the people were friends and family, while others were hired to cry and mourn for the loss of the child, as was the custom at the time.

When Jesus entered, the people were not ready for what he was about to do. Jesus told them the girl was asleep, revealing that for him, someone who is dead is as easy to bring back to life as it is for us to wake someone up from a nap. Unphased by the crowd’s laughter and lack of faith, Jesus

put them all out, and he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

Jairus had experienced so many moments when it felt like his faith had failed him, but Jesus’ words of life always remained true. In the short time we hear about Jairus, fear put his faith to the test when his daughter became sick, when she became sick to the point of death, when he had to trust in Jesus, when he had to wait for Jesus to speak to the suffering woman, when the news came that his daughter had died, when the people laughed at Jesus’ claim that she was only sleeping and when he walked into the room and saw his daughter’s lifeless body. Jairus faced all of this, but Jesus told him to believe. Faith was the power to fight against his fears because his faith was put in Jesus.

Jesus is the answer to our fears because he has the power over all things, even life and death. In our second lesson from 2 Timothy 1, Paul wrote, “[Jesus]

has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

When Jairus was pushed to the point of losing his faith because of fear, Jesus showed him that by faith we are not lost when things in our lives fall apart. In the gospel, the good news about Jesus, we hear that even the fear of death cannot stand up to what Jesus has done for us. Jesus came to this world as the Son of God and died to save us from our sins. Jesus then rose from the dead to show us that he has the power to bring us back from the dead, free us from sins and give us life forever. Faith in him is the antidote to fear because no situation we face is too much for him to overcome.

As you think about, as you face and as you struggle with fear in your life, do not lose faith in Jesus. You will face moments like Jairus that seem to ping pong you between hope and despair, but Jesus will remain true through all your trials. Things may not work out how you want or according to your timeline and you may not be free from all your suffering until God brings you home to heaven, but it is that hope in heaven and Jesus’ power to deliver you from death to eternal life that will remain strong and true. Fear and loss of faith have led many to lose their lives, but you know your Savior. All he need to say to Jairus’ daughter was get up and she came back to life as if asleep. God hears your prayers, knows your fears, save you from sin and death, and knows the right time and right way to help you, don’t be afraid; just believe in Jesus your Savior. Amen.