I have been blessed with a good father who worked hard to provide for his five children and is a shining example of integrity and fatherly love. I view fatherhood positively, as a position that embodies honor, dignity, and good authority, though today’s society often considers fathers absent, angry, or stoic. To me, fatherhood conveys a strong provider and a caring, loving protector who is full of compassion and passionately concerned for his family. These are the qualities of fathers that we should celebrate this Father’s Day. I know some fathers are absent or even violent, which can negatively impact our view of human fatherhood and our views of God, but deep down, we know and understand that fathers are not supposed to be that way. How can we understand the fatherhood of God if we lack examples of good human fathers within our culture? Father’s Day is important because it reminds us of the positive traits of fatherhood we admire.
I believe that nurturing and engaged fathers are important. The benefits of dads engaging with parenting is well-documented. Loving and involved fathers benefit their children’s wellbeing in ways that no other person can. There’s a short story in Mark chapter 5 about a good father named Jairus, a leader of a synagogue, who persisted to find a cure for his dying daughter. He pleaded and became determined to see Jesus. It’s a story about a dad who persisted to bring Jesus home with him to bless his precious little girl who was lying sick. She had been left to die by the most skilled doctors.
When I consider the story of Jairus, I see an extraordinary man who approached Jesus as a nurturing, loving, and engaged father. The words “and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet” (Mark 5:22) say a lot about this dad. Jairus begs Jesus earnestly, saying “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live” (Mark 5:23). As he pleaded on behalf of his little girl, Jairus’s expectations became clear. He believed and hoped that Jesus would return home with him to save his little girl. Jesus responded to this grief-stricken father and left with him at once, but on their way, Jairus encountered many reasons to waver in his faith. Huge crowds began to follow Jesus, pressing upon Him from every side and hindering the journey by slowing progress to Jairus’s house to a crawl. I am sure this father was anxious to reach his dying little girl and fearful of arriving too late.
As they slowly made their way through the throngs of people, there were further interruptions. A woman with an severe illness was eager to reach Jesus. With tender pity and compassion Jesus stopped and intently listened to the woman tell her twelve-year history. You might expect that Jairus said something like, “My daughter is dying! We’ll never arrive in time!” Instead, however, he apparently waited patiently beside Jesus. He too listened to the woman, who had consulted every doctor she could find to help. Jairus had done the same for his daughter.
Seeing this believing woman healed filled Jairus’s heart with encouragement. I can only imagine that it renewed the skip in his step, as he firmly believed that Jesus would grant his request and heal his little girl. While Jesus was still speaking to the healed woman, however, Jairus’s friends came to tell him that his daughter was dead and that it was pointless to bother Jesus any longer. I suspect that this news hit Jairus like ton of bricks. You might expect that such news from doubting friends would make him doubt his faith, especially as he was witnessing others getting their prayers answered. This dad’s heart must have been breaking.
As Jairus’s peers and the crowd discouraged him, Jesus overheard and was drawn to this father, immediately countering the doubters: “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe’” (Mark 5:36).
Jesus expects Jarius to believe even when new problems and dangers arise. As Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace” (Run Today’s Race, 1968, January 5). Jairus had to ignore what others said to continually believe and press forward. Don’t stop bothering Jesus. Don’t listen to negativity, especially when you’re expecting Jesus to triumph over every situation. Everything Jesus did seems to have boosted Jairus’s faith. As this dad pressed closer to the side of Jesus, Jesus pumped him up with renewed faith.
Finally, Jesus arrived at Jairus’s house. Had the trip been worth it? Had Jairus left his daughter’s side for nothing? When Jesus entered the home and saw the mourners and wailers, He asked them why they were weeping. The little girl was only asleep, and Jesus had come to awaken her from this state. They laughed and ridiculed Jairus for bringing Jesus home. They obviously didn’t believe in resurrection. Jairus was surrounded by people who did not believe that Jesus could bring his little girl back to life. However, Jesus encouraged the father to believe despite the seemingly hopeless circumstances; no matter how bad the situation appeared, he must “only believe” (Mark 5:36). Jesus then threw all the scoffers out of the house. You should never listen to wailers and scoffers. You must get past the mourners to bring life into a home.
Jesus then took the little girl’s father and mother—those closest and dearest to her—to the death bed, where the child lay lifeless (Mark 5:38–40). Lifting the lifeless girl into His tender yet strong arms, He brought her back to life by simply saying, “little girl, get up” (Mark 5:41). Instantly, the pulse of new life appeared. Her pale lips parted with a smile, her small chest heaved with a gasp of air, and her eyes opened with the spark of life. Jesus came to stop the mourning and to wipe every tear, returning joy to this family. Then Jesus tenderly helped the little girl get something to eat.
I am sure this intimate moment remained as a beautiful memory in heart of Jarius, but I wonder what that little girl thought about her father. It was Jairus’s continuing faith that brought Jesus to their home. It’s a father’s responsibility to give his children into God’s arms. I want to be a faithful father like Jairus, but those who don’t have fathers like that can count on being God’s direct child, knowing that they have Him as their Father. This is the opening thought in the prayer taught by Jesus, which addresses the Father we can all count on (Matthew 6:9). Thank God for the loving fathers who remind us of our heavenly Father in heaven who loves us more than we could ever know. Happy Father’s Day!
Craig Ashton Jr.