Always, I had wanted a son. To carry my name, to carry my knowledge. Always, I dreamed of this. Until I met her.
“It’s a girl,” the midwife said, and I saw my wife’s eyes flicker – a layer of fear on top of her pain and exhaustion. I am ashamed to tell you this. So ashamed. But then they handed me the child. She opened her eyes and looked at me, and I could not look away.
For 12 years, she has had my heart. Looking at me with her merry eyes, climbing into my lap, stroking my beard. I laugh when she laughs. I don’t know why. I can’t help myself.
And now, she lies on her little bed, so like a skeleton, her long hair damp with fever. “Daddy,” she moans, and I have to look away. Always, I wanted a son, and I don’t know how I will live without her.
I walk to the synagogue. I am a leader here, and there is talk of a heretic wandering through Israel, headed this way. He is to be watched, his words recorded for the trial that will certainly come. I try to pay attention to this, but my mind keeps racing back to her little bed, to her moaning.
“Do you HEAR me, Jairus?!” the high priest roars, annoyed.
My eyes jerk into focus. “Y-yes, Rabbi. I’m sorry. Of course, I will do it.” The man shakes his head and stomps away, his long robes swaying behind. He is worried, I see. Worried about the damage this heretic might do, and I should be worried, too, I know, but I can’t seem to think straight.
The heretic… I remember now; there was talk about miracles. A blind man was healed, someone said. And a man who could not stand suddenly walked away with his stretcher. And this heretic was coming here?
“Daddy…” My mind was racing, and I laid down the scroll, rushed from the synagogue to the market where I might hear news. And, yes, he had been seen, just getting off a boat. People turned and stared as I ran past, my long robe flying, but I hardly noticed.
Was it really me who pushed through the crowd and fell on my knees before him? My desperation seemed to have a strength and a voice of its own.
“Please, sir. My little one is dying. Won’t you please come?” I felt the tears and sweat on my face, heard my sobbing voice, saw the eyes of people staring down at me – a synagogue ruler – and I didn’t care.
He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I will,” and he started to follow me home. The crowd around him was growing, pressing in on us, and I could hardly see where I was going.
He stopped to help someone, and I heard a voice shouting my name – my brother. He broke through the crowd and came very near to me. Then he swallowed. Shook his head.
“I’m sorry, brother. I’m sorry. She’s gone.”
My knees buckled, but someone caught my arm and said, “Don’t be afraid, Jairus. Let’s keep going.”
We pushed on to my house and through another crowd that had formed outside. “She’s dead,” they wailed. “The little one is dead!”
It felt like a bad dream. I stumbled into the house, supported by the man we called a heretic. There she lay on her bed, hair brushed and no longer moaning. Little white hands lying still upon the sheet. Little white face, her merry eyes closed forever. My wife lay at the foot of the bed, sobbing. I braced myself against the wall and watched.
He released my arm and kneeled beside her, put her hands in his, and sighed. “My child,” he said and smiled. “It’s time to wake up.”
Always, I had wanted a son, but you see this child on my lap, and I – the synagogue ruler – laughing and crying at the same time. The heretic they call Jesus, or – far better – the man of God I once called a heretic; he has raised my heart from the dead.
At LIFE International, we try to emulate Jesus’ great love and respect for kids. Like the people of Jairus’ day, we need a renewal to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children” that we, too, might recognize their immense value to God and to us.
This story is a dramatization of a healing recorded in Mark 5, Luke 8, and Matthew 9.