Jairus was “one of the rulers of the synagogue” (Mark 5:22, ESV). He might have been among the gang of religious zealots that “started plotting ... against (Jesus), how they might kill him” (Mark 3:6). Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath Day, and in his twisted mind, Jairus deemed that act as worthy of the death penalty.
We can be sure that Jairus, though hyper-religious, was well educated concerning all of the Old Testament. So, we can be sure that Jairus knew the story of Elijah and the widow at Zarephath. Jairus knew that when the widow’s son died, “Elijah said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ So he took him from her arms, brought him up to the upstairs room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the Lord and said, “Lord my God, have you also brought tragedy on the widow I am staying with by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself out over the boy three times. He cried out to the Lord and said, ‘Lord my God, please let this boy’s life come into him again!’ So the Lord listened to Elijah, and the boy’s life came into him again, and he lived” (1 Kings 17:19–22).
Jairus had probably told his twelve-year-old daughter the story of Elisha’s experience in Shunem. A prominent family in the village had a son who was deathly sick. “When Elisha got to the house, he discovered the boy lying dead on his bed. So he went in, closed the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he went up and lay on the boy: he put mouth to mouth, eye to eye, hand to hand. While he bent down over him, the boy’s flesh became warm. Elisha got up, went into the house, and paced back and forth. Then he went up and bent down over him again. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes” (2 Kings 4:32–35).
Jairus refused to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the royal son of David, the one who would lead Israel’s revolt against the wicked Romans. He couldn’t image a poor preacher like Jesus could become king of the world. But Jairus had heard the rumors about Him. He heard about a leper who had been miraculously cleansed. He heard about a quadriplegic who walked again and a blind man who could see. The stories were being told in the marketplace, and they were even circulating before and after the weekly services at the synagogue.
He found the stories and testimonies unbelievable, but his daughter was sick. She was dying, and Mr. and Mrs. Jairus were losing hope. Maybe it was his wife who encouraged him to seek Jesus’ assistance. Maybe she said, “The miracle-working Jesus is our last hope!” Of course, Jesus willingly accepted Jairus’s invitation. When Jairus and Jesus arrived, they were told that the sweet little girl’s life had slipped away. It was too late. She was gone. Dead. That’s when Jesus turned to the distraught daddy and compassionately said, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe” (Mark 5:37).
I can imagine that weeks or months later, in the synagogue’s Sabbath service, Jairus read from the scrolls containing the words of First and Second Kings. “The God who raised the widow’s son... the God who raised the Shunamite’s son... His Glorious Son, Jesus, raised my sweet daughter. Jesus is the God of the resurrected life! And so, I will serve Him for all of my days!”
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.