Steeped In Faith’s Traditions

Mark 5:40 “But they laughed at Him” (NIV).

Observation: Jairus, an administrator of the local synagogue, had asked Jesus to lay hands on his dying twelve-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, at the house, mournful wails accompanying death had already begun. Jesus and Jairus were too late, so messengers came from the house to find Jairus on the way. Since his daughter had already died, there was no need to further trouble the Master. Jesus, though, overrode their message by simply saying, “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark 5:36), as they continued toward the house. Then, upon arriving and hearing the shrill mourners, He asked, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead, but asleep” (v. 39), to which they responded by laughing at Him.

Application: The crowd’s reaction to Jesus was in marked contrast to that of some demons earlier in the chapter. A demoniac living among tombs outside the town had run toward Jesus. As he ran, the primary demon possessing the man began a deadly earnest dialogue with Jesus. The demons recognized Jesus’s authority, and His presence was no laughing matter to them! The demons begged Jesus “again and again” not to send them away (v. 10).

By contrast, the good believers at Jairus’s house dared to laugh at the Son of God. They thought they knew death when they saw it, and Jairus’s daughter had been dead long enough for a crowd of mourners to assemble. What’s going on here? Jairus’s crowd had plenty of information about Jesus. They understood He could do anything. As synagogue administrator, Jairus surely would have been steeped in faith’s traditions, and he apparently had enough knowledge of Jesus’s reputation to have been willing to ask Him to lay hands on his daughter in the first place. Yet it was his family and friends who laughed at Jesus, while the demons had trembled in fear before Him.

Is my faith only good on sunny summer afternoons with soft breezes blowing? What of those darker days when gale-force winds bring awful news crashing in? She’s dead. You’re fired. He has left you for another woman. She’s pregnant. He was so full of cancer they just sewed him back up. We’re out of money. You flunked the test. The list of possible bad news is unimaginably long, and there are days, even years, when it seems to come in double or triple doses. What is my response on such a day? Dare I join in the jeering crowd at Jairus’s house, or might I have at least the wisdom of a minor demon?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times I have responded as Jairus’s friends. When all the niceties are stripped away, when life is reduced to my heart response to Your presence in the midst of a storm, I pray You would find me trusting only in You, believing You, satisfied fully by You.

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