The Men on the Sideline

This week’s lectionary gospel reading from Mark 5.21 – 43 gives us an opportunity to consider some people on the fringe of the story. People who make up the numbers but we usually just pass over. The men on the sidelines.
“Some men came from the house of Jairus,…… ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they saidyelena-cherkasova-christ-raises-the-dauther-of-jairus1. ‘Why bother the teacher any more?’ ”
If these men had been right, we wouldn’t have this story in Mark’s gospel. If these men had been right, the event would have passed into historical oblivion, and Jairus would have joined the ranks of heart-broken bereaved parents.
We don’t know who ‘the men’ were. Probably servants, friends, associates, family members. They are side-line participants in the story. They are the ones who got it wrong, when all sense says that they had reason to believe they had it right.
“Face reality, Jairus. Your daughter is dead, it’s tough, but let’s get on with what has to be done. This Jesus guy is busy, don’t bother him now.’
I would have been one of those men. Down to earth, practical kiwi blokes, what they could see is what counts, sceptical of anything that doesn’t fit what they have experienced or can see or touch.
But sometimes our sort of blokes don’t get it right. Sometimes it’s us who need to raise our sight levels, expand our horizons. Sometimes we need to recognise that there may be ‘more to life than meets the eye’. Sometimes quasi-agnostics like me need to open ourselves to faith and belief that is bigger than ourselves and what we can, we think, reason our way through.
Isn’t it good that Jairus didn’t listen to ‘common sense’? Isn’t it good that, driven by his love for his daughter, he invested everything in Jesus? There’s no suggestion that Jairus had all his religious questions answered, that he had done ‘due diligence’ on Jesus and decided to invest in him. Yet he was willing to risk his fledgling and faltering belief in Jesus and the outcome was astonishment (v42) and undoubtedly joy beyond what he had ever experienced before.
People like me and the ‘men from the house of Jairus’ could do well to follow Jairus’ example and recognise that there really is ‘more to life than meets the eye.’
And maybe also wonder, astonishment and joy in surprising places and experiences.

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