Jarius turned away from the sight of his servant struggling through the crowd towards them, forcing himself to focus instead on Jesus and the woman. He couldn’t bear to face the news that he was sure the servant had come to deliver. It couldn’t be.
“You’ve healed me Jesus, I knew the moment I touched you that I was healed!” the woman said quietly, her face still bowed towards the dirt at his feet.
“Arise my daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
As the woman stood and cautiously looked up at him, a small smile seemed to tug at the corners of Jesus’ mouth, his eyes seeking hers for just a moment. A smile broke out on the face of the woman, her face glowing with a barely contained joy.
Jarius felt a gentle tug on the hem of his sleeve. He slowly turned to confront the man he feared had come to tell him of his daughter’s death. The tears on his servant’s face as he turned confirmed his worst fears, and Jarius collapsed into the arms of the servant as he spoke the words he feared the most.
“Master, your daughter is dead. There is no need to trouble the teacher anymore.”
How could his little girl be dead? His sweet daughter, their only child, gone? Who would laugh at his jokes now? Who would wake him early on Sabbath with her happy voice full of excitement. Who would he make silly faces at while her mother scolded her for some minor offense, until his wife caught on and turned her scolding to him? Was all of this gone?
Would he never again be gently awoken in the night by his daughter who was certain there was something outside that she certainly wasn’t afraid of but wanted her father to check on…just to be sure everything was okay? Would he never again bravely put on his wife’s cooking pot as a helmet, with a bread knife as a sword and stand guard just inside her door until she drifted back to sleep?
How could he ever be brave again if she was gone?
The noise of the crowd suddenly crashed over him like a breaking wave. The people next to him who had heard the news were already beginning to mourn loudly. It was over this and the continued muttered spreading of the news of his loss through the crowd that he heard the voice of Jesus break through.
“Do not fear, only believe, and she will be made well.”
The crowd that followed Jarius to his home had become quite somber as the each step drew them closer to the home they knew contained a mourning mother.
Jarius could hardly escape his own thoughts as he stumbled through the dusty streets. One arm held by the young man who had brought him to Jesus in the first place, his other arm steadied by the servant who had brought him the terrible news. Each landmark along the path to his home seemed to have some memory of his daughter associated with it. Each person they passed along the way quickly avoided his look, as if they were ashamed to look on and share in his misery.
Why had this man Jesus stopped to speak with that woman? Didn’t he know that the interruption had condemned his daughter to death?
It was only gradually that Jarius became aware that Jesus’ disciple was speaking to him. The quiet voice came as though through a fog.
“All is not lost, friend. Even yet, there is hope. Even yet your daughter may live. Remember the centurion’s servant, my mother-in-law, even the widow’s child was brought back to life.” The young man seemed to be pleading with Jarius.
What good would it do to hope? God above had ordained this moment, who was he to deny it? Surely death itself could not be defeated by this wandering teacher. God had demanded of him that which God had given, and there could be no argument.
Jarius spoke quietly to the young man at his side. “How could there still be hope, my only daughter is dead.”
“Remember our father Abraham, friend. His own only son condemned to death, laid on the altar to die. Abraham believed that even if he must sacrifice his son, God could return him to life,” the young man continued. “We share the hope of our father Abraham, that even though death takes our children from us, God will raise up through us a mighty nation. Believe in this man Jesus, I have seen him do miraculous things with my own eyes. Even this is not beyond him.”
“God was testing Abraham.” Jarius replied. “He needed to know that Abraham would follow his voice no matter what was asked of him. No matter the cost.”
“So also is God testing you, my friend,” the young man countered. “He asks you to believe in this man Jesus, to believe that even though your daughter is taken from you, she will be restored to you.”
“You ask for much,” replied Jarius. “I shall do my best as we together walk through this valley of shadow and death.”