Summary: Jairus was a ruler of a synagogue but he and his wife had a serious problem: their only child, a daughter, was dying. Jairus was concerned enough to find Jesus--but what happened after that?
Introduction: Jesus spent a lot of His earthly ministry meeting with and helping people. Many of these were among the poor or lower classes of people, but He also ministered to those who had status. Jairus was one of these, a synagogue ruler, who came to Jesus when his daughter, his only child, was dying. His concern, in approaching Jesus for help, makes him a great father!
The story of Jairus and his daughter is found in the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Being a doctor himself (Colossians 4:14), Luke adds his own perspective to this event.
I Jairus spoke with Jesus
[Luke 8:40-42, KJV] 40 And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people [gladly] received him: for they were all waiting for him. 41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: 42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.
In the immediate context, Jesus and the disciples had just returned from a journey to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. There He had met with, and healed, a man who had a considerable amount of demons living inside him; in fact, when Jesus asked the man’s name, he replied “Legion, for we are many (Mark 5:9)”! A Roman legion, in terms of army organization, was around 6000 soldiers but it is not certain if the man had that many demons or if they were giving an approximation (“there’s more of us than there is of you and we can get more!”) for effect. Regardless, Jesus cast out every demon and restored the man to his senses (Luke 8:30-40).
Now Jesus and the disciples have returned to the western side of the Sea of Galilee, probably back to Capernaum where He had done several things (see Luke 7). Luke does not say where Jesus was going; only that people were waiting for Him, again probably near the shore. There is a similar incident, where many people were waiting for Him, in John 6 after Jesus had fed the 5000 people using only five loaves of bread and two small fish.
While Jesus and the disciples were apparently making their way through the crowd, someone was making his way to Jesus! His name was Jairus, and he was “a ruler of the synagogue”. And Jairus had a serious problem: his only child, his daughter, was dying,
The girl was only twelve years old, and may have been looking forward to a full and productive life in Capernaum or anywhere she and maybe her family, too, might live. But now, she has a serious condition. She’s not only sick, she’s dying, and there doesn’t seem to be anything that anybody could do. Besides, if her father had contacted or consulted any doctors, Luke doesn’t mention anything about this in the text.
So, maybe out of sheer desperation, Jairus went to find Jesus (how did he know where Jesus was?) and ask Him, interestingly, to only come to his house. And Jesus agreed to go with him.
Verses 43-48 relate an incident that happened as Jesus was walking with Jairus back to his house. The text is omitted here but describes how a woman, who had a serious medical problem of her own, came behind Jesus, touched part of His clothing, and was instantly healed. When Jesus asked who had touched Him, the woman explained everything. Jesus gave her a warm and comforting parting thought and continued on His journey with Jairus back to the house.
But what was going to happen once Jesus arrived at the house?
II Jairus heard something from a messenger
[Luke 8:49] While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's [house], saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. 50 But when Jesus heard [it], he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
One of the most unpleasant things anyone has to do is inform a person that a loved one has died. Many, if not most, of us recall hearing the news that a parent, grandparent, sibling, or even child has lost the battle for life—and is dead.
It couldn’t be easy for anyone to bring such a message to a father, especially Jairus, who knew his daughter was dying already. Now, he receives word that she’s dead. Even worse, the messenger adds a perhaps well-intentioned remark, “don’t bother the Teacher (there isn’t anything He can do for her now, is implied).” Jairus must have felt any number of emotions at this time: grief, now that she’s gone; dismay, as he had no other children; uneasiness, because what would the members of the synagogue think (oh, he must have sinned greatly or his child wouldn’t have died); maybe even more emotions.