Tag Archives: Lifepicture

Jairus (Part 1): Mark 5:21-24

Jairus. A familiar face in the crowd?

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.

Mark 5:21-24

Shiptonthorpe, 30th June 2024

Jesus relationship with leaders of the Jewish community is always interesting. We rather assume that by default the leaders would have been antagonistic to Jesus. Clearly there were times when this was the case, and ultimately, the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were responsible for the circumstances leading to his death. However, do you remember Jesus had something that feels rather like a clandestine meeting with Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin(i) in Jerusalem? You can read about it in John 3. The indications are that some leaders, some of the time, were interested in speaking to Jesus.  We saw in Mark 2 that some of the local Pharisees were close witnesses to Jesus teaching and healing activities. They were watching. They were sceptical. But they were not always openly hostile.

Jairus was leader of the synagogue in Capernaum, one of the most high profile leaders in the town which Jesus had, for the time being, made his home. In my mind I see the crowd parting as this senior member of the local community steps forwards to meet Jesus.

By our standards, Capernaum is a small town (about 1500 people). To me it is unthinkable that these two men had not met before. Jairus must have been very familiar with the healing and teaching ministry of this young rabbi, going on in his own town. We know that Jesus visited and was sometimes allowed to speak in synagogues. In public at least, it may be that Jairus would keep Jesus at a distance. It may be unlikely that he would publicly support Jesus’ ministry, but Jairus surely knew who Jesus was. This scene shows that he believes in the power of Jesus’ healing ministry. It is likely that when Jairus mentions his daughter, Jesus will know exactly who they are talking about. He will have have seen and perhaps even met the girl. Did these two men greet each other as strangers, or as friends?

Yesterday, in conversation, a friend of mine told me that he was agnostic. He is not sure whether or not he believes in God. However, he told me, if he was on a plane which was at risk of crashing, he would be the first to pray. He would try anything. Something similar is happening here. Jairus probably does not approve of Jesus, but in a desperate situation – his beloved daughter is dying.

Jairus’ daughter is sick. Very sick. Any animosity or differences which might have existed between the two were set aside. In a desperate and powerful gesture, Jairus, the synagogue leader, throws himself to the floor at Jesus’ feet. At this moment, Jairus would do anything, try anything. Anything at all. Even publicly throw himself at the feet of the celebrity preacher. Even publicly declare his confidence that Jesus, by laying his hands on his daughter, could rescue her from the jaws of death and restore her to health.

We will never know the truth of the relationship between Jesus and Jairus, but we do well to notice that confronted by desperation, Jesus does not turn anyone away. There seems to be no hesitation. Jesus goes with him. And where Jesus goes, the crowd follows.

You can read the second part of the story of Jairus’ daughter here.

(i) The Sanhedrin was the Council of Jewish Leaders in Jerusalem, responsible for interpreting and applying the Law

Richard Jackson, West Sussex: LifePictureUK

Stating the Obvious? Mark 4:11-22



26th March 2024, Paphos, Cyprus

As a Christian, living in the 21st Century, Christ’s explanation of this familiar parable may appear to be really straightforward. Of course, we read it from the perspective of our times and we bring our own assumptions and understanding of the Kingdom of God. For us, it may feel that in his explanation of this parable, Jesus is stating the obvious.

11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]

13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Mark4:11-20 (NIV)

Of course, if we stop and think about it, we know that our relationship to this story is going to be very different from that of those who heard it for the first time 2000 years ago.

Like so many people around us, most of the people who were in the crowd had little interest in listening to Jesus. Whilst he had told his friends that preaching was his true purpose, many people in the crowd had come from far and wide to see Jesus performing healing miracles. They had not really understood who Jesus was. Again – that sounds familiar.

Those who were interested in hearing Jesus speak, and this includes the disciples, had very specific views of what the coming Kingdom would look like. Their views are very different from ours.

‘People were expecting a great moment of renewal. They believed that Israel would be rescued lock, stock and barrel: God’s kingdom would explode on to the world stage in a blaze of glory.’ (i)

Actually, says Jesus, the Kingdom of God will not be like that at all.  In fact, there will be those who, in varying degrees, just won’t get it. Again, Jesus could be describing people in my own culture.

In fact, he says, whilst the opportunity is there, many people will simply miss the point. They will fail to ever enter His Kingdom at all. Others will fail to thrive or be successful in the Kingdom. This, he says, is the secret, or the mystery, of the Kingdom of God. You think you have understood, but his Kingdom is not what you were expecting it to be. There is something radical hidden away in Christ’s words. Something ”politically incorrect’ (ii). For the original crowd, rather than a simple explanation of what the Kingdom of God is like, there is a radical message of what it is not like. It is not like you are expecting! I think that message remains true today.

I’m reflecting on the culture within which God has placed me. We think of ourselves as intelligent and sophisticated. That’s fine, but I suspect that the people in 1st Century Palestine thought that too. Our modern world is full of people who have their own fixed views of what God is like and who Jesus is. Many have a sense of what God’s kingdom is like (many people assume that it doesn’t exist). Whatever you think, I suspect that even today, Jesus is saying to us you may have got this seriously wrong.

As I reflect on this parable, I wonder whether what Jesus was saying to the crowd, and to the disciples, and is saying to you, to me and to everyone around us is this. You can easily be deceived – your understanding of he Kingdom of God may be way off target.

The Kingdom of God is a secret, or a mystery (v11). Christ explains that mystery by using parables. Each parable lifts the veil on that mystery, just a little. Jesus has invited us to follow. He encourages us to go deeper. If we do, he will encourage us by helping us to grasp a little more of that mystery.

We may be coming to this 2000 years after that first crowd – we may be 21st Century Christians – but however much we think we understand, there is much more for us all to learn about His Kingdom. There is so much more we can achieve within it. Another reminder to all of us who think we have it all worked out. We are a work in progress.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Mark 4:9, NIV)

Richard Jackson, West Sussex: LifePictureUK

(i) NT Wright, Mark for Everyone, p42
(ii) ibid