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When Reality Exceeds Expectations

Luke 8:54-56
But he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. (NIVUK)

The story so far: Jairus, the synagogue ruler, had come to Jesus because his daughter was very ill (Luke 8:40-42). Jesus agreed to visit the family's home but was delayed on the way (Luke 8:43-48).  Meanwhile the girl had died and a messenger brought the news to Jairus, and said not to trouble Jesus any further (Luke 8:49).  However, Jesus was not deterred, telling Jairus that if he believed, his girl would be healed (Luke 8:50).  Arriving at the house, and silencing the traditional loud mourning, He took Peter, James and John with Him to see the dead child (Luke 8:51-53).

Simply, and without any drama, Jesus held her hand and told her to get up - which she did immediately!  There was no period of confusion or need to recover in bed because she got off the bed mat and stood up, hungry for a meal.  Although Jairus and his wife had obviously agreed to ask Jesus for help, and Jairus must have believed that Jesus could heal (despite the potential disapproval of other religious authorities) - they were not at all prepared for their daughter being raised from the dead!  They were amazed!

But Jesus did not want this to boost His popularity.  He wanted Peter, James and John to witness the event and learn to expect that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  In Deuteronomy 17:6, life and death issues required two or three witnesses.  At other critical points in Jesus’ ministry, He took along the same three trainee-apostles (Mark 9:2; Mark 14:33), who would soon become the leaders of the church in Jerusalem.  The need for eye-witness evidence was crucial (Luke 1:1-2; John 1:14; Acts 1:21) so that Peter could affirm that the gospel accounts were not invented but had been seen and verified by trustworthy people (2 Peter 1:16).  This miracle was the first of three in which Jesus raised the dead, preparing the disciples to understand His own resurrection which they were to witness and announce to the world (Luke 24:45-49).    

Of course, it is wonderful to see God working powerfully in ways we do not expect, but why are we so often surprised?  Have we not yet learned that when we ask, the Lord answers; that when we believe, He works in power?  Have we just become used to small expectations and little horizons, assuming that the Lord of heaven and earth will not be interested in our lives?  Do time delays upset our ideas of how God should work and leave us uncomfortable to ask any more?  One of the reasons why the Early Church grew so quickly was that the Apostles were absolutely confident that God would act.  They were well trained. But where do we start? With the eye-witness accounts in the Bible of those who saw and heard Jesus.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  These gospel narratives are not just good stories - they are true examples from which we learn that the Lord is compassionate, kind and powerful; and He always keeps His promises.  So come to Him today in honesty and faith.  Tell Him what is on your heart and trust Him to act in wisdom and at just the right time.

Wonderful Lord. Thank You for this reminder that You can achieve whatever You choose. Forgive me for doubting You so often, for limiting my prayers to the little things I patronisingly think You can do. Help me to see the needs around me and to work with You so that Jesus may be made known, and that people may have much joy in receiving Your new life. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams