For as long as I can remember, my wife and I wanted a daughter. We used to walk through the moonlit streets of Capernaum, late into the night, hand in hand, discussing names we’d like to give to a daughter. That is, if God would bless us with something so precious.
Now I’m not what you’d call a religious man; never heard much about religious things growing up in Antioch. It’s not that I had anything against religion, no, I just didn’t have much time for it.
My wife and I married at a fairly young age, big wedding and everything. Family, friends, neighbors; seemed like the whole town turned out to celebrate with us.
Things were looking good in our little world, that is until trouble started brewing in Judaea.
About three months after our wedding, my wife and I boarded a ship and sailed to Tyre, and from there caught a slow donkey ride to Capernaum. Forty miles of dust, bumps and bruises. We were ever so glad to get a glimpse of Lake Tiberius, meaning home was a mere ten miles away.
Capernaum. The little city by the sea, with a population of around fifteen hundred. Friendly little fishing village with less than its share of Jewish Patriots. Like those Jerusalem troublemakers.
Capernaum. Our hometown for the next fourteen plus years.
Little by little we grew familiar with the Jewish customs and traditions. I guess you’d say our hearts were at least a bit softened toward religious discussions, though I didn’t understand much about it. I did, I suppose maybe a couple of times, help the local synagogue with their building fund. Hey, I had a good life, these people were my friends, so, what the heck.
I had recently learned that the whole Jewish nation was becoming wild with anticipation which began as word spread from Jerusalem about the Lord’s Messiah. Apparently this man named Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be God’s Son, the promised One. There were a lot of mixed discussions about him.
But I never thought much about him. I thought, eh, whatever. As long as he stays down there in Jerusalem and leaves my peaceful little world alone.
Oh no, I almost forgot to tell you about our little princess.
Our daughter was born just about twelve years ago. A little one, barely six pounds; but full of life, smiles, and shiny, black hair. Eleanora. Shining light. It’s the name my wife and I chose late one night while walking hand in hand; the moonlight caressing our shoulders and illuminating our path, while silently listening to us dream about having a little girl.
Exactly a week ago our peaceful little fishing village was turned upside down; and so was my world. Jesus had arrived in town with his entourage of disciples, women who helped prepare meals for his team, along with a large and cynical group of Pharisees and Sadducees. I couldn’t tell the difference between the two groups so I just referred to them as skeptics.
Jesus wasted no time in stirring up the multitudes. I wished he had never come to town, at least for the first few days after his arrival. I hadn’t worked so hard in years. Crowd control, pick pockets, petty crimes, a few assaults; just a lot of extra work because some religious guy came to town.
People invited me to attend some of the meetings, but I politely turned them down. Hey, it’s alright for them. I’d rather not be bothered.
But yesterday I happened to walk into the area Jesus was ministering. As soon as I heard his voice I became captivated, unable to move, as if I was suddenly glued to the ground. I listened to him speak of his father’s love and compassion. I heard him tell a story about a farmer planting seeds. Then I saw him heal two men who had born blind.
“Hey, I know those guys!” I exclaimed. Apparently loud enough for Jesus to hear me, because his eye caught mine. And he smiled.
I finally began to work my way out of the crowd, toward home, when our neighbor boy ran up to me, gasping for breath.
“Your wife sent me to tell you to hurry home. Something’s happened to Eleanora; she is delirious with fever and her breathing is very shallow!”
I began running, but my mind quickly outdistanced me. It kept racing back to the crowd where Jesus had been. Could it be? Is it possible? Could I trust a man I didn’t know?
Yet the way he looked at me, as though he knew me and my family…
I stopped dead in my tracks. “God help me”, I whispered.
My very first prayer.
I ran as fast as I could back to the mob. Pushing my way through the crowd (I was glad to be wearing my uniform) I finally came face to face with the one called Messiah. I didn’t know much about that, but I had witnessed the healing of a couple of blind guys. I knew he was my answer; the answer to my short, inaugural prayer.
“Jesus, my little girl is dying. Please come and lay your hand on her and she will live.”
At once we began walking together, my faith growing with each step.
All of a sudden I discovered I was walking alone. Jesus had stopped. Some woman had crawled on her hands and knees, pressing through the crowd, just to get to him. Good for her.
Bad for me.
While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from my home. They told me, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” (Mark 5:35 NLT)
No! Not my princess!
Like a lighting bolt, Jesus’ words pierced the darkness of my doubt and despair.
“Don’t be afraid. Only believe. Keep on believing.”
I really don’t remember much after that moment. I know we made it to my home, met by the mourners who had already begun planning the funeral. I remember Jesus mentioning something about my little girl sleeping.
But I’ll never forget the joy we all experienced when my little shining light was presented to us completely alive and perfectly whole.
In just a few days time, my world was changed forever by someone I tried to ignore.
How about you? He’s still the same today as he was back then.
I realize I combined a couple of stories from the bible – Jairus a leader in a synagogue, and a certain centurion. The centurion wanted his servant healed, Jairus, his daughter. But you know what? This could have happened. After all…
“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NLT)