ReMAP: Ministry of Jesus 5
1. The synagogue leader’s daughter: news
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.
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed Him, for they were all expecting Him.
While (Jesus) was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before Him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put Your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, and so did His disciples.
Mark and Luke say that Jesus had crossed the lake coming back from the region of the Gerasenes.
Matthew’s account brings in additional events — unlike us, Gospel writers were not as concerned about when events happened, as why they happened, and often grouped stories around a context. The synagogue leader appears after Jesus has healed the paralysed man, then the calling of Matthew and a dinner at Matthew’s house with some criticism from Pharisees about the company He was keeping. And then the question about fasting from John’s disciples which leads to the parable of the hardened and the new wineskins.
There was a crowd. There was heightened expectation… and now there was the appearance of a well-known and now very distraught authority figure, the synagogue steward. As Jesus began to respond, he sensed the need of the woman in the crowd who touched his robe.
To reflect: When something ‘comes out of left field’
The unexpected can be testing. We all like time to pray about a situation, to get our ‘spiritual bearings’, but what do we do when it doesn’t work out like that? Is the Holy Spirit always guiding us, and how then do we know His leading in a confusing situation?
2. The synagogue leader’s daughter: more detail
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. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at His feet. 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.” So Jesus went with him.
Synagogue leaders were not from among the priests or Levites, who participated in the Jerusalem temple worship, but were local community leaders of some substance. They represented the Jewish faith to outsiders, and took charge of the synagogue meetings at which others would be invited to read the Scriptures and speak.
It would have been an act of some desperation for such a prominent person to kneel and plead with Jesus. But Jairus did so, with the expectation that Jesus could lay his hands on her and reverse what seemed to be certain death. We can deduce that he had seen Jesus minister in this way. He had faith for the outcome!
To reflect: working with the faith process
Jairus came to Jesus and asked him, publicly, for something quite specific. Through Jesus’ action he wanted to see his daughter healed and living. How forthright and specific are we in coming to Jesus and asking Him? Intentionally coming to Him, and boldly asking?
Yes, He knows what is in our minds before we ask, but how aware are we of the faith process in approaching the Lord and speaking out the words?
3. The synagogue leader’s daughter: the fight of faith
Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, He said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at Him. After the crowd had been put outside, He went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region.
Who said that exercising faith was easy? It is a spiritual battle.
The noisy mourners, with their wailing voices and pipes, are not themselves demonic. They are simply performing something expected in that culture. However, we see a more sinister dimension when they turn to mocking, as Jesus begins to speak words of faith: “Go away! The girl is not dead but asleep.”
Faith is opposed by unbelief, which is a spiritual stand-off.
There are times when the Lord leads us to see with eyes of faith, and perhaps exercise the spiritual gift of faith. What we see and say then, will be at odds with others who are more ‘rational’. Watch for where this has the ‘edge’ that reveals a darker, spiritual tone. Then discern where that has to be tackled, remembering that spiritual opposition is not personal. It is addressed with authority but in a different way.
To reflect: what we are doing when we stand in faith
Think of a time when you were standing in faith — at the cost of some mocking and difficulty. How does reflecting on this story prepare you for the next time?
4. The synagogue leader’s daughter: listening with discernment
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 any more?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37–40 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at Him.
Everyone is called to exercise leadership. Some do it a lot. Other take a lead when they have to. Some avoid it whenever possible, because every time we take an intentional, considered lead there is some sort of reaction, and we naturally avoid conflict.
To reflect: will we step forward?
How willing , or shy, are we of taking a lead when it is appropriate?
5. The synagogue leader’s daughter: who are you listening to?
35 “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
What has this to do with Jesus healing, or rather, raising from death, a sick girl? He is going into a situation of low faith and high emotion, low agreement and high commotion — “They laughed at Him”. To change that requires confrontation on two levels. There is the human level — a house full of “commotion and wailing” — and there is also the unseen spiritual dimension behind it.
People were coming from the house and, finding the father with Jesus, saying “Your daughter is dead”. They were telling the girl’s father that there was nothing here for him to do.
Jesus “overheard” this exchange. Most Bible versions offer a footnote here and the Amplified Bible renders this well: “Overhearing but ignoring what they said…”
To reflect: change the spiritual ownership
When people are saying one thing but you sense the Holy Spirit is saying another, it’s a test of who you are listening to. What you then say is a marker of who you believe. The devil works through people’s thoughts, and therefore emotions, and here the thought is unbelief and the emotion is fear. Jesus says, literally, “Fear not — only believe”. He says this to the father but also for the hearing of unseen the spiritual audience. The lesson for us? Work out what is happening spiritually, and address it with words spoken out in faith.
6. The synagogue leader’s daughter: Agreement is important
He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at Him.
This was going to be a test for the relatively green apprentices — and perhaps an unfair test for some of them. So Jesus chose three of the fishermen, Peter James and John, who were among the first to respond to Jesus’ call. They were used to working the nets together. They knew the importance of being of one mind, in knowing what needed to be done.
Jesus, of course, can see this situation with the eyes of faith and with spiritual discernment. The others are learning — it is what we as disciples do — but it was vital that none of them were thinking — let alone speaking — in a way contrary to the Master. That would have damaged the power of faith in agreement.
Jesus later taught this principle:
“Again, truly (amen) I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
This should be taken as agreeing in line with the Father ‘s declared will.
To reflect: we pray… and we agree in prayer
There are prayer and faith situations we encounter every hour of the day, and we do what we know to do… we pray.
Then there are the more difficult ones, and the ones that seem insurmountable. It was never intended to be an individual walk of faith. We are part of a body, so that we can hear God together and agree in prayer together before Him.
• Who is your go-to, trusted person to pray the prayer of agreement with?
7. The synagogue leader’s daughter: Words are important
Mark 5: 40-43
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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
We have thought about a faith attitude — and maintaining a faith attitude of agreement before the Lord. How is that expressed? In words — words of supplication, but also words of truth (Scripture) and words of declaration. Words are important. Let’s look at the words which Jesus used:
“He said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’)”
This was not a supplication, or ‘asking prayer’. This was not quoting a Scripture truth. In a sense, this was not spoken for the hearing of the little girl — at this point she was dead. Not hearing, not part of a conversation.
Jesus spoke words of faith over her, commanding life and movement into her. The response was immediate — it was as if she had been waiting to hear those words. But in reality it was not the little girl who received the command. It was the spiritual forces of darkness that had robbed her life and were keeping her captive.
To reflect: deploying words of faith
Words are important. They carry force in the unseen spiritual realm, not just in the usual way of being understood by another person. Be prepared to break the usual conventions of human communication and conversation. Use words, speaking out God’s intentions to unseen hearers, to enforce God’s intentions, as the Holy Spirit leads.
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