Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
As I write this, I’m sat in a coffee shop at Heathrow Airport waiting to meet my girlfriend. She lives in Northern Ireland, and I live in Sussex, in the south of England. It’s not an ideal arrangement – but it does mean that I’ve been able to rack the air miles up in recent months!
Before I met my girlfriend, I hadn’t flown a great deal. Neither of my parents like flying, so it’s not something that we did as a family when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I was at university, in fact, that I flew for the first time. I can still remember that trip; I was concerned about whether the plane would stay in the air. I was also very worried if the sensation I was experiencing in my ears as we landed was normal. But I trusted that all was as it should be, because millions of flights have been made over the last hundred years or so, and thousands of people fly thousands of miles every day. I had to believe that the plane was safe, though, otherwise I would never have got on it!
Belief, in the case of flying, was my antidote to fear. I believed that the plane was safe. In the same way, Jesus, not for the first time in Mark’s gospel, emphasizes here that the antidote to fear is to believe. This seems remarkable in the context presented here; Jairus has just been told by his friends that it is not worth bothering Jesus any more, because his daughter has died. I cannot imagine what Jairus must have felt on hearing that news. I suspect that his whole world would have collapsed. And yet Jesus calmly tells him not to fear, but just have faith in him. He trusted him sufficiently to come and find him when his daughter was ill, and he should continue to trust him now that his daughter has died. Jairus’ faith is subsequently rewarded, when Jesus brings his daughter back to life.
This for me is an image of the Christian faith in microcosm; if we have faith in Jesus to protect us, to look after us, to watch over us, and – of course, if we have faith in his death as a sacrifice on our behalf – then there is no need to fear. Just as Jairus was rewarded for his faith by the resurrection of his daughter, so too we will be rewarded with our own spiritual resurrection after our deaths.