And as Jesus returned, the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for Him. Luke 8:40
I like to look at a verse from the Bible and put myself in the story. How would I have felt had I been there that day? Would I have been waiting patiently or anxiously? Honestly, I guess it would depend on my circumstances. So, if I am to put myself in this story and ponder what it would have been like to wait for Jesus, I need to put myself in the shoes of some of the people who were there.
One of the people waiting was a woman who had been sick for over a decade. Think of how long she had been waiting for help or hope in her circumstances. It might be easy for you to put yourself in her shoes. You may be going from doctor to doctor, and from clinic to clinic to try to find answers for your problem. You know what it is to wait. You know the anxiety, the uncertainty, and the hurt that can follow when your wait ends in disappointment.
Waiting Involves a Degree of Anticipation.
There was anticipation in the crowd that waited for Jesus. Some of them waited impatiently. That group would wait—but only for so long. They were the curious, the incidental onlookers, who were simply caught up in the anticipation of the rest of the crowd. But others waited anxiously. They counted down the hours, the minutes, and the seconds. They strained their eyes, looking across the water to see some sign of an approaching ship. They were all waiting.
But how long? People today will camp out on the street for days to get a good seat at a rock concert or the latest version of an iPhone. Those standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee may not have waited overnight, but surely, they waited for hours. They were waiting for different reasons. Some were there with others. Some were there out of curiosity, but they were all waiting. Are you waiting for something or someone? Are you looking forward to an event, a moment, or an opportunity? Are you waiting for an answer to a prayer or the solution to a problem? If so, you also wait with a sense of anticipation. But there is a second word that describes the mood of this waiting crowd.
Waiting for Some, Involves a Sense of Desperation.
Their hearts beat with an urgency related to some need or concern. Some brought their needs with them. Others had needs too big to carry and too urgent to be kept waiting. When you are waiting, the minutes seem more like hours. I’m sure the minutes crawled by, while the boat on which Jesus travelled meandered toward the shore. This was especially true for one man. There was a desperate need in his life. The clock was ticking in his particular circumstances, and time was running out.
And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus’ feet, and began to implore Him to come to his house; for he had an only daughter about twelve years old, and she was dying. Luke 8:41-42
This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. First, because it is so real and so raw. I feel this man’s need as he made his way into the presence of Jesus. Every time I read this story, I feel so sorry for this dad. Daddies fix things for their little girls. But he couldn’t fix this. He couldn’t kiss it and make it go away. So that day, by the shore of the sea of Galilee, a dad at the end of his rope, fell down at the feet of Jesus. Mark records the very words that this daddy spoke to Jesus. He said, “My little daughter is lying at the point of death.” Luke makes it clear that it was his only daughter. I have three daughters and six granddaughters. I know how precious little girls are to those who love them. I also know what it is to have a little girl who is sick, and I know the feeling of being helpless to do anything about it.
Jairus was an official of the synagogue. I don’t know what it was like to be an official of the synagogue. But I do know what it’s like to be a church official. It becomes easy to follow the routine—to just go through the motions. But the actions of Jairus on that day were anything but routine. These were the reckless reactions of a desperate dad. He had no watch to know how long he had been waiting, but he knew, as he waited, that time was running out.
Is time running out on something in your life? Is there an approaching deadline on the horizon? Do you find yourself waiting in desperation for some answer to prayer? If so, you know what it is to walk in the shoes of Jairus as he waited for Jesus. Are you desperate as you stand in the midst of your circumstances? How long have you been waiting for Jesus? The clock is ticking. The days are passing. As you wait with a sense of anxious anticipation, desperation mounts because you realize hope will be lost if help doesn’t come soon.
As the clock ticks here in my office, I remember several times when my family waited for Jesus. We desperately needed His help. There were moments of financial need when there seemed to be no hope. We waited in deep despair, sometimes feeling the Lord had abandoned us. The crush of the circumstances seemed more than we could bear. But those dark days afforded us glimpses of God’s glory we might never have seen had we not faced such despair. I can say from personal experience, God can take money from the mouth of a fish to provide for the needs of His people. Around thirty years ago, my wife and I paid in too little quarterly tax. At tax time, we found ourselves owing more than we could pay. I didn’t know what to do. In my desperation I reached out to a friend and mentor. I will never forget the prayer he prayed in response to our need. He said, “God, you once took money out of the mouth of a fish to pay Jesus’ tax. If you can provide for Jesus, I know you can meet the need in the life of this family.” About a week later, a deacon in our church, without any knowledge of the need in my life, walked in the back door of the church. He said, “I was in a fishing tournament this weekend. I promised God, that if I won any money in the tournament, I would give some of it to you. Every time I reeled in a fish, I said, ‘God, this one is for Bro. Eddie.’” He wasn’t there when the other man prayed! He didn’t know I owed money for my tax. But Jesus knew! The money he gave me wasn’t enough to pay my tax, but it was enough to let me know that God knew my need and was still my provider. I went to the bank and borrowed the rest of the money. I trusted God to provide for me month by month until I paid my debt.
I don’t know the need that has you waiting for Jesus. I don’t know how long you have waited or the degree of desperation that may surround your life. But Jesus knows! He knew the need that existed in the home of Jairus before that desperate dad ever fell at his feet. He also knows the need that exists in your life. That is true if you have been praying about it for months. But it is also true if you have never thought to pray before now.
In the life of Jairus, a growing sense of hopelessness mounted with every passing moment. Can you identify with the sense of desperation in that dad’s life? Let me ask you a question. When do you give up? When is it time to write off your circumstances as hopeless? When do you stop waiting for Jesus and look somewhere else? If some of you were honest, you would admit you did that some time ago. You waited and prayed as long as you could. Instead of getting better, things got worse. You gave up. I understand those feelings. I’ve been there and done that. But perhaps no character in the Bible gave up more completely in His circumstances than Jairus. He had a little daughter at home who was dying. He had been waiting for Jesus. While he waited for Jesus to come to his home, someone arrived with awful news that caused his heart to sink like a stone.
…someone came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.” Mark 8:49
It was too late! Is it too late in your circumstances? Obviously, I don’t know the Lord’s plan in your situation. However, I do know that even in our moments of devastation, we still need to wait for Jesus. I remember something Dr. Henry Blackaby said in his study, Experiencing God. He said, “You never know the truth about your circumstances until you have heard from the Truth.” Jesus is the Truth. Watch as He steps in and speaks to the devastation in the heart of Jairus.
Waiting That Ends in Disappointment Results in Devastation.
Sometimes our wait ends in crushing disappointment. We don’t understand why. We don’t understand why the Lord didn’t answer our prayer. We don’t understand why He didn’t come through as we expected. The end result is devastation. Our faith is crushed. We not only give up on our circumstances. We give up on God.
That is exactly where some of you are. You are more than desperate. You are devastated. You’ve been crushed by the calamity that has come into your life. When you were desperate, you at least had hope—but now even your hope has perished. Some of you don’t have to try to put your feet in the shoes of Jairus. You have been there. You watched a child die, or stood in the wreckage of some relationship. You know what it’s like for your heart to grow cold and dead inside you. Is there a situation like that in your life? Does it seem to you that your circumstances are so far gone that not even Jesus can help?
Then something happened that changed the trajectory of this story. A mom sat by the deathbed of her little girl waiting for her daddy to come back home. Her hope was gone. The messenger who came to retrieve Jairus knew all hope was gone. Any anticipation, any hope that rested in the heart of Jairus vanished at word of the death of his little daughter.
An Affirmation of Hope
But when Jesus heard this, He answered him, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well.” Luke 8:50
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 10:11 The quote comes from Isaiah. It occurs four other times in Scripture. In Isaiah, the word means to make haste or to act quickly. How many times have you acted quickly in some apparent disappointment. You thought the Lord let you down. So you let him down. You forsook your commitment. Then all at once, the answer dawned, and you were ashamed.
Was Jairus wrong to put his hope in Jesus? No. Jesus offered an affirmation of hope as he stood in apparent hopelessness. In the Psalm of the Cross, Psalm 22, Jesus uses the same expression in his hopelessness on the cross. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed. Psalms 22:5
With that affirmation of hope Jesus cancelled was Jarius’ fear.You don’t have to be afraid anymore. I am sovereign over your circumstances. I am sovereign over sickness. I am sovereign over disease. I am sovereign over death. Jesus cancelled fear.
The second thing that Jesus cancelled was discouragement. When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother. Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.” Luke 8:51-52
All of those voices were contradictory to the person and work of Christ. They were not the voices of faith. They were the voices of fear and discouragement. If you have a desperate need in your life, you also have the combined voices of fear and discouragement telling you not to trouble Jesus because He can’t help you. Those voices tell you that your circumstances are too far gone and that it is too late for Jesus to do you any good. But in the home of Jairus, Jesus cancelled the voices of fear and discouragement.
Now consider the third thing that Jesus cancelled. He cancelled death. And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Child, arise!” And her spirit returned, and she got up immediately; and he gave orders for something to be given her to eat. Luke 8:53-55
This is the first time that in Jesus ministry that He grappled with the powers of death. Here was a little girl whose body was still warm having not long before taken her last breath. And there in that room, in the presence of those parents, Jesus raised that little girl. He cancelled death.
The second time that Jesus grappled with the powers of death was as a coffin was coming out of the city of Nain on the way to a cemetery to be buried. A boy was in that coffin—the only son of a widow. He had probably only been dead a day as the dead were often buried the same day that they died. And as the pall-bearers went by with the coffin Jesus reached out and touched it and spoke to the man in it and he sat up. And Jesus gave that boy back to his mother.
The third time was a little more difficult. For this time the man had been dead for more than a day and more than two. His name was Lazarus, and he had been in the tomb for four days. His sisters were hesitant to have the stone removed, knowing the body to be in an advanced state of decay. Certainly, Lazarus was too far gone even for Jesus. But Jesus had them roll away the stone and He cried, “Lazarus, come forth.” And a man who had been dead for four days walked out alive.
Of course, the greatest of all of Jesus’ victories over death was his own resurrection. And the Bible speaks of a day when all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. John 5:28-29
No situation is too hopeless for Jesus. That same Jesus, who spoke an affirmation of hope to a daddy’s heart and cancelled his fear, is speaking to your heart today to cancel yours. That same Jesus, who walked into that home in the midst of weeping and wailing and cancelled the voice of discouragement, is here today to cancel yours. That same Jesus, who stepped into that home and cancelled the circumstances that faced that family, is here today to cancel yours.
Now we go back to where we started. How was it that Jairus secured Jesus to step into his circumstances? He had been waiting for Jesus. Will you, or will you act quickly in your despair and disappointment? Will you judge Jesus to by what appears to be the truth of circumstances, or will you wait for a word from the Truth?
Photo by Simeon Jacobson