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Models of Faith


One pop singer recently summarized what many people today think about faith: “If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.” Today’s reading is about having faith—but not in the way our modern world thinks.

Today’s reading presents miracles, one nestled within the other. The story opens with a picture of faith: a synagogue leader, Jairus, came to Jesus seeking healing for his sick daughter. While Jesus is in the process of traveling to Jairus’s house, we meet another person in need of His help.

A woman, suffering for twelve years from incurable hemorrhaging, desperately sought healing. The woman pressed through the crowd, secretly touched Jesus’ garment, and was healed! Her faith was also highlighted, both by her own thoughts—“If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed” (v. 28)—and Jesus’ response—“Daughter, your faith has healed you” (v. 34).

Then an entourage reported to Jairus, “Your daughter is dead . . . Why bother the teacher anymore?” (v. 35). At this point it seems that the delay with the bleeding woman had cost the life of Jairus’s daughter! But Jesus reassured him: “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (v. 36).

This wasn’t a call for Jairus to believe in himself or even to have faith in faith. The verb Jesus uses is in the present tense (“keep on believing”), meaning that Jesus was instructing him to continue with the faith that first brought him there: faith in Jesus and His ability to heal!

That faith proved well-founded. When Jesus arrived at the house, He quickly ejected the gathered crowds, went into the young girl’s room, and commanded her to get up. Immediately, the girl was brought to life and restored to her family. The central theme of faith in today’s passage calls us, too, to see Jesus’ power and to respond with faith in His ability.

Apply the Word

We know that God does not always grant our requests, but today’s reading reminds us that nothing is too big for God’s power. Reflect on the greatest struggles in your life or the most troubling realities in our world, and bring those before God in faith—not in ourselves but in who He is and what He can do.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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