Fear Not

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.”

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. (Luke 8:49–56)

Because Jesus is with us, we don’t have to be afraid anymore. Luke repeats the story of Jairus the synagogue ruler, but as usual, puts his own unique spin on things. Writing to a non-Jewish audience, Luke does not bother to insert any of the Aramaic wording that appeared in Mark’s rendition. And when Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid, we discover from Luke that Jesus told Jairus why he didn’t need to be afraid: Jesus promised to heal his daughter.

Jairus had experience with sick people getting well. But when people were dead, it was too late. But Jesus brought something new into the world. As the prophet Isaiah said of Jesus, “by his wounds we are healed.” And what more profound illness do people face than the illness of death?

Why did Jesus tell Jairus to keep the miracle to himself? Because Jesus hadn’t done it for praise or fame. He’d done it out of compassion. And besides, we don’t get excited by the everyday miracles of life. On the first day manna appeared in the time of Moses, people saw it as a miracle. After thirty years of eating it every day, it was no more miraculous than a sunrise—which tells us something about our perception of sunrises. Jesus hoped that we would realize that as unusual as a dead girl coming back to life was, it was really no more special or difficult than the daily miracles of God that we take for granted.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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