These first two words of Luke 8:54 have been echoing in my heart and challenging my mind for several weeks. These words come at the end of the story of Jairus and his sick 12-year-old daughter—his only child. Jairus was a synagogue official, a man of position and respect. Yet he threw himself at the feet of Jesus and pleaded for him to come to his house.
God’s timing is terrible in this story. The crowd is huge and tightly packed. People are pressing into Jesus to touch the edge of his garment. People are being healed, but the going is slow. A messenger finds Jairus in the crowd and tells him not to trouble Jesus because his daughter has died. It is too late for Jesus.
Jesus, however, tells him, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she shall be made well.” When Jesus arrives at the house full of grief and lament, he says, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.”
Luke tells us they all laughed at Jesus because they knew she had died. Unlike most of us, they had seen plenty of people die. They knew dead when they saw it. Jesus doesn’t address their laughter. Luke says, “He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Child arise!” She rose immediately and was given something to eat.
The word or the idea of “however” is powerful. Some translations leave out the word “however” that the NASB uses. Other translations say, “But he” instead of “He, however.” What has captured my attention is the juxtaposition of the people’s laughter and the words of Jesus. They laugh, but Jesus says, “Child arise!” They say she is dead, Jesus, however, takes her by the hand.
Although we are tempted to scorn the laughing crowd, we must admire their respect for facts. Aren’t many of us weary of Christians that ignore facts and trust in God? I know Christians who have been looking for and praying for revival for forty years without seeing their prayers answered. Maybe we should just face the fact that we are now experiencing as much of God as we ever will until we see Him face-to-face.
I also know Christians who are still seeking a God and church that can heal the sick, cast out evil spirits, and, like Jesus, raise the dead. The fact is this really isn’t happening much of anywhere. Most big churches still have people who sign for the deaf and have ramps for those in wheelchairs to come and go from the services. Yes, some are testifying to disappearing headaches and backaches. But facts are facts.
I keep looking for a powerful visitation of God in Myrtle Point—one that would heal and save drug addicts. But facts are facts. Most addicts don’t get better, yet alone saved. Rehab seldom works. Three addicts who once came to my Sunday School class are using again. These are the facts that laugh at my hopes and prayers.
I fear I belong outside the house of Jairus. Jesus only allows Peter, John, James, and the girl’s parents to come into the house. Those who were laughing are kept outside. Facts are facts. Let’s be realistic. Our hopes for a church like the one in Acts are laughable. It’s not just that we are far from that, many don’t even want it. God’s people can’t even cry out for revival with one voice. My experience laughs at the very idea of a church brought back from the dead and full of the power of God to save and heal.
God challenges all of us to live with and by, “Jesus, however.” Yet, Jesus is the Fact that changes all facts. I have read the skeptics and the existentialists and the atheists. I have heard the shouts of the philosophers and pundits and the rebels. I have listened patiently to the soft voices of commonsense, moderation, and dispensations. But I can’t get past, however, what Jesus did and said.
When our facts mock the power of God, Jesus steps forward as the Fact that orders reality and brings the dead to life. When entrenched sin, addiction, and bondage seem to have hopelessly enslaved those we love, Jesus, however, can set them free. Against all the laughter of the world, the tyranny of little facts, and our own curated collection of disappointments, comes Truth himself–Jesus who takes us by the hand and says, “Child, arise!”