Christian Living Stories: The Synagogue Ruler’s Wife

Matthew 9:18-19; 23-26; Mark 5:22-24; 35-43; Luke 8:41-42; 49-56

I will never, ever forget the day I met Jesus. Our home was filled with family, friends and public mourners crying and wailing because my 12-year-old daughter had died in my arms. All throughout her lingering illness, I felt so helpless, with nowhere to turn.

You see, I had heard about Jesus and how he healed people, even raising a woman’s son from the dead. I wanted to find him. But it would have been impossible for me, as the wife of our town’s chief synagogue officer, to seek out Jesus on my own. I wasn’t even permitted to walk the streets alone, much less search for a maverick teacher. This would have brought the ultimate embarrassment to my husband, Jairus.

And because Jairus was prominent in the synagogue, he had reason to think twice about going to Jesus as well. Pharisees, priests and teachers of the law from all around had labeled Jesus as a blasphemous trouble-maker. They wanted a reason to arrest him and stop his growing popularity. They even drove him out of the synagogue in Nazareth. So how could Jairus, a synagogue ruler, dare ask Jesus for help?

But on that horrible day, as he listened to our daughter’s shallow, noisy breathing, Jairus could no longer restrain himself. Synagogue ruler or not, he had to find the healer. It was our last hope. When Jairus found Jesus, he fell at his feet pleading for the life of our only child.

Waiting for Jairus to return felt like an eternity. I wondered if Rabbi Jesus would really come to help a little girl. Most rabbis had no time for females, young or old, and viewed us as a distraction from the more important things in life.

As she drew her last breath, I held my precious daughter in my arms, stroking her hair, her clothes soaked with my tears. I screamed her name, begging her to come back to me. But she was beyond the reach of my voice. I carefully laid her on the bed and stared at her face for a long time. A servant left immediately to tell Jairus.

It wasn’t long before I heard men talking in the common room. A man asked the crowd why there was such a noisy commotion and wailing. He said my daughter was just sleeping. Everyone laughed at him. Then he told them to leave the house. I welcomed the quiet that followed.

We stood by with three of Jesus’ disciples as the healer leaned over the bed and gently took my daughter’s small hand in his. Then, with endearing affection, he said to her: “My little one, I say to you, rise up!” She began to stir. Her eyes opened and Jesus, still holding her hand, lifted her to a sitting position. She immediately jumped off the bed and walked toward us. I grabbed her and held onto her, tears of joy streaming down my face. Jairus wrapped his arms tightly around us both.

Not missing a single detail, Jesus then smiled and said, “Well, give her something to eat!”

Elated at this startling turn of events, we hurried to find her something to eat. Jairus and I were humbled by the impartial goodness of Jesus. With just one gracious touch of his hand, Jesus brought jubilant life into our home, the home of a synagogue president, showing mercy we did not deserve.

Copyright 2006

Author: Joyce Catherwood


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