While he 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.

Matthew 9:18 NIV

Sometimes when I read the Bible, I realize there’s a lot more to the story than what I’m reading. For every person we read of in the Bible, there is a life behind that person. Some, like the synagogue leader in Matthew and the woman healed of bleeding, are mentioned once, and we learn little more about their lives. Others, like the Apostle Peter, are in the spotlight for everyone to see. When I was reading today about the synagogue leader here in Matthew, I said to myself, “This man has a name, and I know what it is.” Today I’m going to delve a little into the life of this synagogue leader and see what we can learn from him.

When we think about the religious rulers of Jesus’ time, we don’t think of them supporting Him. The opposition to Jesus and His teachings was so prevalent that it stands out in every Gospel. If you were to think of those who did support Jesus or possibly believe in Him, you’d probably think of two men. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. We know that Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Jesus who was also a member of the Sanhedrin, rich, secretly supported Jesus, and was from Arimathea. We know from the Gospel of John that Nicodemus was a Pharisee, who went to Jesus secretly and questioned Him about the Kingdom of God, for he knew that Jesus came from God. It was Joseph of Arimathea who asked Pilate for Jesus’ body, and he and Nicodemus prepared His body for burial in Joseph’s tomb.

We know very little, however, about the synagogue leader mentioned in Matthew. Fortunately, Mark and Luke tell us this man’s name. Jairus. We can deduce that Jairus was a Pharisee since the Sadducees didn’t believe in angels, visions, or the resurrection. As a Pharisee and a leader of the synagogue at Capernaum, Jairus was in the strictest sect of Judaism, following all of the 633+ laws without fail. When Jesus told the paralyzed man that he was forgiven of his sins, it would likely have been Jairus’ colleagues, if not students, who would have said to themselves, “‘This fellow is blaspheming!'” (Matthew 9:3 NIV).

When Jesus preached against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees, He was talking about men like Jairus. Men who stood in the marketplace praying to be seen, giving at the temple to be seen, and persuading people to follow the law without following the Spirit of the Law. Yet, something was different from Jairus. He believed.

When Jairus approached Jesus, the Gospels of Mark and Luke tell us he fell at Jesus’ feet and pleaded earnestly with Him to come to his home and heal his dying daughter (Mark 5:22-23, Luke 8:41-42). If we were to only read the Gospel of Matthew we’d miss out on the tension of the moment. Matthew, for his reasons, tells us the girl was already dead when Jairus came to Jesus. However, there’s no discrepancy here between Matthew and the other Gospels because the girl was as good as dead. She was beyond hope and the mourners who were already at Jairus’ house tell us this.

So, when Jairus meets Jesus with crowds all around Him, his daughter is at home, dying. She’s in such bad shape that the house is already full of people wailing and mourning. No one believes she’s going to do anything but die. Jairus, no doubt, had heard about Jesus. As the synagogue leader, he couldn’t help but know what was going on in his city regarding religious matters. Like Nicodemus, who went to question Jesus, Jairus would have had questions. However, with all of his questions, he also believed that Jesus could heal his daughter.

When Jairus sees Jesus and falls at His feet, this is a posture of worship and humility before God. Jairus had seen many false prophets and teachers come and go. Jerusalem was full of them. He had heard about Jesus, and instead of condemning Him like the others, he went to Him in his time of need. We cannot judge or think harshly about Jairus, for who among us was not in need when we first went to Jesus as enemies of God?

When Jairus goes to Jesus, his daughter is dying, and time is of the essence. What does Jesus do? He immediately starts for Jairus’ house. On the way, a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years touches Jesus while He’s surrounded by other people, and is healed. Does Jesus continue on His way to Jairus’ house? After all, a young girl is dying! No, Jesus pauses and seeks out the woman who touched Him.

We all have had dire situations in our lives. Those times when we need God right now because only He can take care of the problem. We pray, and we ask God for His help. We fall onto our knees before Him and plead earnestly with Him to step in and heal, deliver, and make it right. We know He can do it, and we know He hears our prayers. We have prayed within His will, yet we don’t see it happen. Sometimes we wait, and we wait.

Jairus, no doubt, was shaking in fear and trembling at the agonizing pace of Jesus. Didn’t He know his daughter was dying? Didn’t He care? No one else could heal her but Jesus. Yet, here he was dawdling amongst a crowd of people, wondering who had touched Him!

When I think about Jairus and his situation, I’m reminded of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. When Jesus was told that Lazarus was sick, He waited two days before heading back to Bethany to heal him. All told, Lazarus had been dead four days by the time Jesus had returned to Bethany. The story of Lazarus reminds us to be patient while we wait on the Lord. It reminds us that God’s timing is perfect. This story of Jairus, the synagogue ruler, is no different in that aspect.

When Jairus went to Jesus, he went to Him with the baggage of following and teaching the Law. It’s to Jairus that Jesus says one of my favorite sayings, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Was Jairus afraid that Jesus wouldn’t heal his daughter because of everything he had taught and formerly believed about Him? Did he think that healing his daughter was beyond Jesus? What was Jairus afraid of? I think Jairus was afraid of all of those things, but most of all, he was afraid of what his colleagues would think. Here he was, the synagogue ruler of Capernaum, consorting with Jesus of Nazareth, a known blasphemer, and enemy of the people. When he went to Jesus, his daughter was dying and had she been healed, nothing else would have mattered. Yet, now she was dead, and he had put his reputation on the line.

Sometimes, this is what it means to have faith. We believe, not in what we see, but what is unseen. We believe in the unseen and act as if it is real because that’s what faith is. Sometimes we have to wait to see what we believe manifest for others to see and that waiting can be scary. We tell our friends and family about Jesus. We live our lives for Him, and when things aren’t looking good, we get that fear that challenges our faith. We believe, but we’re afraid.

The untold story of Jairus could be our story. Whether we’ve believed in the Lord for five minutes or fifty years, we put our faith in what our hearts have heard from the Lord. We didn’t look to the world before we believed, asking for its opinion. We know what it thinks because we thought the same once. Now, as we walk in faith with the Lord, it can be scary sometimes. This momentary fear, however, isn’t something to be staggered by, it’s a measure of our faith, this fear, that we’ve given it all to Christ and we have nowhere else to turn. We’ve taken the leap, and as we fall, to the inevitable death in this life, we will rise up, on the last day, to be with Him eternally.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.