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Who was Jairus in the Bible?

Jairus was an official in a synagogue in Galilee who came to Jesus in faith and asked Him to heal his dying daughter. Most synagogue leaders were opposed to Jesus at that time. Jesus disregarded their strict Sabbath practices, cast out demons no one else could, and seemed to attract crowds everywhere He went. But a few leaders in the Jewish faith were willing to consider Jesus' teaching and appreciate His miracles, among whom were Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and Jairus. Jairus, when faced with the possibility of the death of his daughter, found himself willing to ask Jesus for help. His story is recorded in the synoptic gospels and can be found in Matthew 9:18–26, Mark 5:21–43, and Luke 8:40–56.

Jesus had just crossed the Sea of Galilee and was surrounded by a great crowd, but Jairus was desperate, so he made his way to Jesus in plain view of all the people. This public act of faith in Jesus was in direct contrast to "Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews" (John 19:38) and Nicodemus who came to Jesus only under the cover of night (John 3:2). Seeing Jesus, Jairus fell at his feet "and implored him earnestly, saying, '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'" (Mark 5:23). Jairus humbled himself at Jesus' feet and boldly stated his need and his faith that Jesus could meet that need completely. Jesus responded to Jairus's request by going with him.

Along the way, however, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years "and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse" (Mark 5:26), pressed through the crowd, reached out for the fringes of Jesus' robe, and was healed. Jesus then stopped the crowd, interrupting and delaying His trip to Jairus's house, in order to publicly restore this woman and commend her faith. In the meantime, someone from Jairus's house arrived to inform him that his daughter had already died, the situation was hopeless, and therefore Jesus' services were no longer necessary. "But Jesus on hearing this answered him, 'Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well'" (Luke 8:50). So Jesus, Jairus, the disciples, and the crowd continued to Jairus's house.

Upon arriving, Jesus asked that only He, the girl's parents, and his three closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, go in to where the girl lay. The people at Jairus's house laughed at Jesus when He told them not to weep because they knew she was dead and assumed He was wasting his time. However, "Taking her by the hand he said to her, 'Talitha cumi,' which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, arise.' And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat" (Mark 5:41–43).

On the same day, Jesus served a ceremonially unclean woman with no financial or social standing announcing to the crowd His miraculous work on her behalf, and He served a "righteous" synagogue ruler who likely had great financial and social standing and then instructed them to keep the miracle a secret. Jairus's interaction with Jesus shows that Jesus loves not only the poor and lowly, but that He came to serve the rich and powerful as well. Everyone can come to Jesus. It is a person's recognition of his desperate need and his bold faith in Jesus as the only one who can completely meet that need that unites us in faith. Sometimes the miracles God works in our lives will be public and other times those miracles will be private, but we can expect that He desires to work in our lives and tells us all, "Do not fear, only believe" (Mark 5:36).

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