Summary: Funeral message for Launer Jones: Help comes from hope, not fear. Life comes from trust, not anxiety. A concerned family who did all they could turned to Jesus, and He will not disappoint.
It might have been a cold, gray morning, that day when Jairus did what a desperate father had to do. A cold, gray morning, made all the more bleak because a little girl lay dying. Only twelve years old she was, full of promise, full of life, the apple of her father’s eye, and so much in love with everything around her. How could it be that suddenly this illness would come, and it would get worse and worse, until everyone saw what was coming? The physicians, the nurses, all of them had done all they knew to do, but still her condition worsened, still her fever shot up, still her heart weakened. How could this be? And yet it was. So Jairus moved. Jairus ran. Jairus, having consulted all the specialists, having used a considerable part of his wealth, all to no avail, Jairus ran to consult with Dr. Jesus and to make one last, anguished attempt to save his daughter.
Jairus begged repeatedly, not giving up, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”
That should not surprise us. When a family system is working as it ought to work, the illness of one member of that family gets the others moving. They rally to do whatever they can because one of them is in need, one of them is hurting, and somebody needs to do something. If there is any kind of love and care within that family, it will show up when somebody in that family is ill. And even more so, of course, when that one is gravely ill.
Launer Jones was fortunate indeed to have had a family like this. You rallied around her all the way. When this mysterious, complex thing came up, several months back, you saw to it that she got good care. You saw to it that at first one hospital, then a nursing home, then another hospital, she was well served. You saw something of what was coming and you planned for another nursing home, you planned for hospice care. Like Jairus, you invested yourselves, your resources, and your love in her. But you also had to watch her decline, steeply and suddenly, in anguishing ways, and you knew you needed even more. You knew that as much as you had done for her, it was not enough to reverse a deterioration of this body, which had always been so strong, small as she was. It was not enough.
So you did more. You, like Jairus, consulted with Dr. Jesus. You ran to his feet, as did your brothers and sisters in this church, and you implored him, “Come lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” Your family went with faith to the Great Physician and implored Him, repeatedly, for His presence.
But the remarkable thing about this story in the New Testament is not only the story of Jairus and his daughter. It is the story of the interruption. The distraction. You would have expected that Jesus, once He had agreed to go on and take care of things with this little girl, you would have expected that He would make a bee-line for her bedside and that nothing, absolutely nothing, would have deflected Him from finishing that task. That’s what you would have expected from the Lord of life, and surely that’s what Jairus expected. “Hey, everybody, Jesus is on His way, and everything’s going to be all right.”
But no, no. Somebody interrupted. Somebody got Jesus’ attention. Somebody distracted Him. Here is this woman, ill for twelve years, who lays her grubby hands on His clothes and forcibly detains Him. It is as though she thinks that her illness is more important than your illness. It is as though she thinks that the world centers on her. Like a character named Edith in a modern novel, of whom it was said that Edith thought of herself as an island, bounded on the north and south and east and west by Edith! Who does she think she is, to demand Jesus’ help, now?!
Now, if you had been Jairus, what would you have thought? If you had been this man, desperate for his daughter’s life, what would you have felt? I don’t know about you, but I would have thought, “This woman, this insistent and insensitive and selfish person, who does she think she is to lay her claim on the Lord? Can she not see that I need Him?” I don’t know about you, but I would have said, “Hey, can she not see that my daughter has a properly scheduled appointment, and that Jesus is not an emergency room, open 24 hours a day to the dregs of humanity?”