Red Letter Words Week One: Believe
“Do not fear. Only Believe.”
Jesus speaks these words to Jarius, a father who just found out that his daughter has died.
If we read Mark 5:21-43 we can get a better idea of the whole story:
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he 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.” And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood 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. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 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.
Jarius’ daughter was very sick. He must have believed that Jesus could help her because he left her side and searched for Jesus. And when he found Him and asked for His help, Jesus went with him. Jesus was going to help! Jarius must have felt some sort of relief…hope. If anyone could save her, it was Jesus. So they hurried off to Jarius’ house.
But along the way, there was an interruption. Another woman needed Jesus’ help too. She made her way through the crowd just to touch them hem of his robe. She, too, believed that Jesus could help her.
Jesus knew her need. So He stopped, and He turned around. Jesus talked to her. Jesus healed her and helped her.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what Jarius was doing at the time that the woman interrupted. But I can only imagine he was beginning to fill with fear. They were in a hurry. They needed to get to his daughter. His daughter was dying. They didn’t have to waste!
How would you feel? What would you do?
If it were my daughter dying, if I were running to her side with the only One in the world who could help her, I would not take any kind of interruption very well. I would be begging Jesus to hurry. I would be anxious to keep moving, to not stop for anything, to run every red light and break every speed limit and not really care about who was on the side of the road along the way.
But Jesus stops. Jesus takes His time. Jesus does not seem to be in a hurry.
And then the thing Jarius most feared happens: word comes to him that his daughter has died. They are too late. The delay was too long and now all hope is lost. She’s gone.
I can only imagine the despair he felt in that moment. He was so close. He had tried so hard. He had searched and found Jesus, they were on their way back, but they were interrupted, and now it’s too late.
“Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” (vs. 35)
Why bother Jesus anymore? All hope is gone. There’s nothing He can do now.
Jesus heard their words and saw their hearts…He knew about the despair and the fear that was setting in. And His response is short and to the point. He looks at Jarius and speaks right to His broken heart, “Do not fear. Only believe.” (vs. 36)
Have you ever felt like Jarius? Ever felt like God was too late to really help you anymore? Maybe there was a time when you once believed that Jesus could help you, and you went seeking for Him and asking for His help, but then He didn’t show up and nothing changed or maybe things got even worse? Have you ever lost hope? Ever wondered what’s the point of even asking God for help with that situation or that relationship or that circumstance anymore, because it’s just too far gone and God just didn’t show up in time and now it’s too late?
Have you given up?
I’m sure Sarah felt a bit that way. God had promised Abraham that His descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5). And yet, Sarah was barren. She had no children. I wonder how they felt when they first heard the words of God’s promise. I can imagine they were filled with hope and believed God. Sarah may have been expectant every month, waiting for God to open her womb and give them the children He had promised. But the months turned into years and the years into decades…and as decades passed and nothing changed, as they grew older and older and as her body had long since passed the season for bearing children, I wonder if she lost hope. I wonder if she stopped even asking God, if she stopped believing His promise. Because years later, when The Lord told Abraham again that they would indeed have a child, Sarah laughed.
The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:10-14)
Fast forward to Jarius and his story. When he first found Jesus, I’m sure his heart filled with hope. He believed Jesus could save his daughter. But then an interruption happened and they ran late and his daughter died, and hope was lost. But Jesus said, “Do not fear. Only believe.” And then they went to his house. And the Bible says,
They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. (Mark 5:38-40)
They laughed at him.
How many times have I laughed at God? Whether in my heart like Sarah or out loud like the people in Jarius’ house, how many times have I so doubted God that it was like me laughing in His face? Is any situation ever so hopeless that God can’t come through? “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)
What are you facing today? How do Jesus’ words speak to your heart today?
“Do not fear. Only believe.”
What are you afraid of? How have you lost hope?
How might believing God change things?
A prayer for today:
Lord, speak to our hearts today and remind us that there is nothing that is too difficult for You, that there is no situation too far gone for You to come through, that we are never too far away for You to hear us, and that we’ve never lost hope because we’ve not lost You. Help us believe. Help us trust in Your promises, let go of our fears, and simply believe You. Remind us that Your ways are not our ways, and Your timing may not be our timing, and that all your plans are for our good and for Your glory. Draw us close to Your heart today. Keep us near to You, right by Your side. Remind our hearts not to fear, but to only believe. We love you, Jesus.