Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.
6th Sunday after Pentecost
Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.
Text: Mark 5:21-24, 35-43
Have you been there before? Have you been there with Jairus? On your knees. Begging. Pleading. “Please Jesus. Please. Help.” You know there is absolutely nothing you can do and it is completely out of your control. You know there is one and only one who can help. So you beg and earnestly plead with tears flowing and humility showing. “Please Jesus. Please. Help.”
When that is you, side by side with Jairus in impassioned prayer, do you actually think Jesus will help? Do you really think he is listening? Do you really think he will do anything about it? Do you really think he can solve the problem or fix your trouble or heal the disease? Do you really think he can take away the cancer or save from death’s door? Do you really think he even cares? Do you believe these things?
Or do you pray because it’s your last ditch effort? Nothing else is working so this is your last chance, your last try. Maybe, just maybe, it will work and Jesus will help you.
Or possibly in tragedy and trouble you’ve been in a different position. Maybe your days of being a Jairus-like prayer warrior are long gone. Maybe now you are more like the crowd of Jairus’ friends. First some arrived and told Jairus, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother [Jesus] any more?” Why waste Jesus’ time? What could he do?
Then Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house to quite the commotion—people weeping and wailing loudly. But he told them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” Now clearly the girl was actually physically dead and not sleeping. The crowd knew that full well and so did Jesus. He had something else in mind though. But what did they do? They laughed. They laughed at Jesus. “Yeah right. No way. You’re crazy.” Their laughs said plenty.
Have you been there before? Have you been there with the crowd? Your heart is so traumatized by trouble and tragedy that you drive right by doubt and directly for disbelief. You may see the words of Jesus in the Bible. You may hear his words in this church or from my mouth but deep inside, maybe without even knowing, you laugh. You laugh right at Jesus as deep inside your heart says, “Yeah right. No way. That’s crazy. This is beyond help. Jesus can’t do anything now. There’s no way this will get better. There’s no way this can change. It is what it is. A day late and a dollar short, Jesus.”
This is the darkness down deep in our hearts. It’s driven by fear. Fear of death. Fear of heartbreak. Fear of sadness. Fear of the unknown. And when my dark heart is driven by fear it does one of two things—it either doubts or it blatantly disbelieves.
This is how far we sinners have fallen. We have a God who sprinkled the heavens with galaxies of stars, who paints rainbows in the skies, who carved canyons and molded mountains, who stitched together every fabulous fiber of our human bodies. This is our God. But we have fallen in sin so far out of touch with who he is and what he does that we actually dare to doubt him. And some days we are so devilishly doubtful that we don’t even believe what he says—just like that crowd that laughed at him.
The story of Jairus today is a true story and a very real one that we can relate to so well. There is Jairus, the man desperately pleading with Jesus in prayer. There are his friends who somewhat coldly tell him his daughter is dead so don’t bother Jesus. There is the crowd at the house so overcome with sadness for a 12-year-old girl who died that the thought of her not being dead made them laugh at Jesus. The story has sadness and tears and tragedy and pain and doubt and disbelief. Yes, I think we can relate to this story far too well.
What would Jesus say to all this? What would Jesus say to a man shattered by the death of his daughter? What would Jesus say to a crowd so skeptical of who he is that they laughed at him? What would Jesus say to people so overwhelmed by tragedy that they couldn’t even think straight? “Toughen up, people? Get a grip!” “It’ll be alright?” “You’ll get through this?”
No, Jesus said what he said more than 20 times to people in the Bible. He said what our God says several hundred times in all of the Bible. “Don’t be afraid.” He said, Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe. So often our God came to his people, just as he comes to us today, to deliver the most simple yet comforting message we could hear—Don’t Be Afraid. This time Jesus says not to afraid but to believe instead.
But now comes perhaps the most important question of the story: Believe what? What were they supposed to believe? What should we believe that will make all our fear go away?
Note: With this important question also comes a critical moment in the story and a critical moment in the sermon. This is where some Christians might become very confused. If that’s all you heard from Jesus, and if you fell asleep for the rest of this sermon and all you remembered was the theme for my sermon today, then you might get very confused too.
You see, some people hear words like this and they start saying things like, “If you only believe, things will get better. If you just believe, your cancer will go away. If you believe enough in God, then your life will turn around.” But then when the cancer doesn’t go away or some other problem in life happens, then they feel like a failure. They didn’t believe enough, I guess.
But Jesus didn’t say, “Just believe,” so he could be the world’s first Disney movie quote. This is not Pinocchio wishing to be a real boy hoping perchance it could happen. This is not Disney’s The Prince of Egypt where the theme song, When You Believe, has these lyrics: “There can be miracles when you believe. Though hope is frail it’s hard to kill. Who knows what miracles you can achieve when you believe. Somehow you will succeed. You will when you believe,” the song says.
That kind of believing is merely wishful thinking. It’s hoping for luck. It’s having faith that you’ll figure it out or that maybe perchance, if you believe in God, he might hear you and he might help you—so just believe and it all could happen just like you want.
That’s not at all what Jesus is talking about and that’s not at all what your Christian faith is about. That’s why this is a critical question and a critical moment in the story and in this sermon. And that’s why you’re not going to fall asleep in the sermon right now.
Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe, Jesus said. Believe what?? Well he showed them. He sent the crowd out and took Jairus and his wife and Peter, James, and John into the room. He took the young lady by the hand and said to her in Aramaic, “Talitha koum!” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately she stood up and walked around. They were all astonished.
That is what they were to believe. In Jesus. They needed to believe in who he is and what he came to do. Jesus gave them first hand knowledge that day. He showed them. He showed them that he is no ordinary man. No man could do that. Only God could. He showed them that he is the Lord of life—that he has power over all things, even death. He showed them that he is the Savior of the world, the one who came to rescue sinners from the curse of death and hell. These people were firsthand eyewitnesses to Jesus as God and Savior—which is why Jesus told them not to tell others. He didn’t want people flocking to him for the wrong reasons.
And neither should we. Seeing this stunning (and very touching) miracle should not make us return to that wishful thinking version of Christianity. “Oh great! Look at the power of Jesus. Maybe now he can get me that promotion and take away all my back pain.” Oh no. Jesus wants you to believe the same thing he wanted those people to believe. In him.
Jesus wants you to see him today as your Savior God. He is the Lord of life who has the power over death. No grave can hold anyone that Jesus wants to be alive. So he simply spoke and raised the daughter of Jairus. And he spoke and he raised the young son of the widow of Nain. And he spoke and said, “Lazarus come forth,” and he did. And on Easter morning he simply stepped out of the tomb himself. No trouble or challenge. He rose by his own almighty power.
You probably know by now the famous passage in the Bible, “The wages of sin is death.” Death is the curse and punishment for sin. But because Jesus defeated death and took away the curse, that means that surely our sin has been done away with too. You are forgiven. Your sin is erased. Your curse is done away with. Death has no power over you. The daughter of Jairus shows us just a glimpse today, but the empty cross and tomb show us in full detail. Jesus is our Savior God.
So what does that mean for your life? Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe. Not in being lucky. Not in catching a break. Not for a little help now and then. Believe in Jesus as your Savior from sin and death. Then watch what a difference that will make.
You have a really horrible family situation going on. It’s a huge problem and you’re not sure how it’s going to ever get better. What should you do? Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe. Believe that if Jesus loved you enough to die for you he loves you enough to listen to your prayers and he loves you enough to work that situation somehow for your good and his purposes.
You get the bad news from the doctor. It’s not what you were hoping to hear. You have a long road ahead of you. What should you do? Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe. Believe in Jesus who has the power to raise the dead which means he also has the power to heal you. But even better, believe in Jesus who offers you an even better life to come that is pain and problem free.
You are in the midst of awful tragedy. Death is staring a family member in the face, maybe even you are the one facing death. You join Jairus again. You fall to your knees. You earnestly beg and plead. “Please Jesus. Please. Help.” What should you do next? Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe. Believe in Jesus who conquered death and rose to life to prove that one day you will rise too. Maybe he will spare you from death and bring you back to life by his mighty power. Maybe he won’t. But even if you die, you still rise to live in heaven—which is better by far!
This is the kind of faith that makes a difference in your life. It’s not faith in good luck or faith in some kind of worldly miracle. It’s faith in a loving Savior God that will change your life. That is what takes away all the fear.
We sang about it last week: “No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the pow’r of Christ in me; From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from his hand; Till he returns or calls me home, Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”
Dear friends, stand fast in that power of Christ and Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe. In Jesus—your Savior God.
Posted on July 6, 2015, in Church, Sermons and tagged Believe, Church, Daughter of Jairus, Don't Be Afraid, Fear, Healing, Help, Jairus, Jesus, Mark, Mark 5, Miracle, Prayer, Raise from the Dead, Resurrection, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.