“7 After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant.” (Luke 7)
“40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus' feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.” (Luke 8)
Bookends. Two men. Two sick children: one foster, one genetic. Both men place all their hopes, all their chips, all their faith in one vessel, one man. One has great faith, the other but a little. Jesus meets them both, right where they are. Sages say, having faith isn’t the issue, everyone does. It is in what..or whom.. you place your faith which makes all the difference. In the desert of life, better a quart in a canteen than a sea in a sieve. Luke ends chapter six with a whelming flood proving and testing foundations and finding either a rock of truth or shifting sand castles of delusion. Chapters seven and eight are about the difference.
The segment however begins and ends with two men who have chosen Jesus. Both men are able. Both men are powerful. Both men have respect and honor of their own. Both men have come to the end of their illusions of control. Both men approach Jesus in humility. Jairus feels comfortable enough to come himself, though on his knees. The Centurion, sensing his unworthiness, sends emissaries, Jewish elders to plead on his behalf. Could Jairus have been among them? To both, Jesus immediately drops what he is doing and moves toward them. First lesson, place faith in correct place. Second, Jesus moves toward faith!
Again, in both events a second wave of messengers come forth to meet Jesus. The Centurion, upon learning of Jesus’ approach, sends servants to stop him. Is he afraid to meet Jesus? Does he just not wish to bother an obviously important man? Is his sense of guilt too great, he is a soldier of occupation in a bloody age. To be sure, he has most likely done terrible things, ordered terrible things. Power he understands…and fears. Perhaps his obvious good deeds, building the synagogue and loving his servants, are attempts at amends? Has he come to the point in his life and realized his great need for a savior? All we know is his faith recognizes Jesus’ power and respects it, his faith recognizes Jesus’ goodness and mercy and earnestly desires it. Jesus respects the man’s faith, marvels at it even and fulfills his prayer from a distance. The servant-son is healed. This personal God does not meet him personally. He rewards this man’s deep faith by allowing it to continue…in its current state! No greater knowledge of Jesus is required than confirmation his faith was justly placed. A priceless picture of faith in our own age!
Jairus’ people meet them on the road to his home as well. They ask Jesus to stop too but not out of unworthiness but from a lack of necessity. The girl is dead, they say, why bother the Teacher (…Teacher?) anymore? They do not understand Jesus’ power. Therefore, they cannot know who he is. Their faith was only large enough for a healing. It didn’t allow for raising of the dead. Elijah could do it. Elisha could too but this carpenter from Nazareth? Doubtful. He’s no Elijah.
Darn tootin’ he ain’t. The amazing thing is, Jesus takes that weak seed and cracks it wide open. He doesn’t shake his head at the missed opportunity and walk away when they bid him cease. He offers Jairus a chance to go deeper. To KNOW the man he’s appealed to. To reward his faith with deeper faith!
Both men’s faith was tested in the same way. Having great faith does not save you from trouble. Nor does God go easier on weak faith. Both were in danger of losing someone they loved dearly. The flood will rise. “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1Pete 4) Is your faith strong? Then the trial will only affirm your faith is well placed! Is your faith weak? Then the suffering will only reveal more of Christ to you! Rejoice! It matters little how much faith you have, only who it is in! This is the source of Christian lunacy! Do we want to see Jesus? Do we want greater faith? Then we almost need pray for suffering to come! Storms to arise so beyond our control we cry out! “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” The darker the storm, the more sure we must be of who he is. And the greatest storm is death! How great will Jesus’ glory be among the nations when those fools who lived for him and died anyway or even because of him, with nothing in their lives to show for it, are raised up on the Last Day! We can even succumb to the storm; go down with the ship because our God is GREATER! Do not fear! Do not hesitate to fall at his feet! It is the safest place to be!