Faith is not a single event. It’s a process, a journey.
While the old saying is true that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, the journey doesn’t end after the first step. My wife and I learned this lesson when we hiked one of the popular trails in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The Abrams Falls trail in Cades Cove is a 5.2-mile trek (round trip) that is at once both inviting and challenging—inviting because of the lush forest scenes along the meandering creek that eventually crashes over a twenty-foot waterfall; challenging because of the uphill climbs, the occasional rocky outcrops that must be navigated, and of course the bloodthirsty hordes of insects, especially in the summertime. For my wife and me, every step along the hike from start to finish was a blend of challenge and invitation, difficulty and pleasure.
The journey of faith in Jesus is also a continuous blend of challenge and invitation. In Mark 5:21-43, a synagogue leader named Jairus went on just such a step-by-step faith journey. His twelve-year-old daughter was critically ill, on the brink of dying. At the same time, he learned that Jesus was close by. Perhaps he had heard about—or even witnessed—Jesus’ healing power on a previous occasion. In any case, Jairus believed that if Jesus were to come to his daughter’s side, she would be healed.
We can identify at least nine “steps” in Jairus’s faith-journey that day. Each “step” was a decisive moment in time in which Jairus needed to (and did) demonstrate continuing faith in Jesus.
Step 1—Jairus came to Jesus (Mark 5:22). We don’t know how far Jairus had to travel, but in the end distance didn’t matter. People today do not have to take even one physical step to come to Jesus; we can come to Him in humble prayer. Yet the first step of faith is indeed to come to Jesus—to turn from trusting in oneself to trusting in Him.
Step 2—Jairus fell at Jesus’ feet (Mark 5:22). To fall at Jesus’ feet is a demonstration of humility and submission. It is a recognition that Jesus is much more than a physician; He is the Lord. He is the Son of God who came in human form and in the power of the Spirit to bring salvation to those who will believe in Him.
Step 3—Jairus begged Jesus to help his daughter (Mark 5:23). He came to Jesus while the Lord was ministering to a crowd of people. He came before Jesus in a posture of humble submission, yet Jairus did not hesitate to boldly ask for help with his personal crisis situation.
Step 4—Jairus expressed deep confidence that Jesus could heal his daughter (Mark 5:23). He believed that if only Jesus came to his house and laid hands on the young girl, then she would get well. Hebrews 11:19 points out that the patriarch Abraham was willing to offer his son Isaac unto the Lord as a sacrifice because he “considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead.” In other words, faith knows that nothing is impossible with God.
Step 5—Jairus waited patiently as Jesus stopped along the way to tend to the needs of another desperate person (Mark 5:25-34). Faith and patience must walk hand in hand. To believe in Jesus involves trusting in His perfect timing.
Step 6—Jairus did not waver in faith when bad news arrived (Mark 5:35-36). Life is not just a roller coaster of bad news and good news. Sometimes bad news can turn into worse news. We may walk through rocky periods when nothing seems to be going right. Life can throw one challenge after another at us until we wonder if God even knows what we’re going through. Well, He does know. Faith is confidence that the Son is still standing right there beside us even when the dark clouds of fear, doubt, and distress press down around us.
Step 7—Jairus followed Jesus’ lead and His instructions to a “t” (Mark 5:37-40). The synagogue leader didn’t try to instruct Jesus but simply obeyed what Jesus said. “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).
Step 8—Jairus showed astonishment at Jesus’ restoring of his daughter (Mark 5:42). Some might say that Jairus’s reaction showed that He didn’t really think Jesus could restore the girl. I would contend that believers should never lose their sense of wonder and amazement at Jesus’ power and compassion. We show the wonder of our faith by never taking for granted that the Eternal Son of God humbled Himself, took on human flesh, willingly gave Himself as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and gives salvation to all who come to Him in faith. May we never lose our astonishment for our Lord and Savior!
Step 9—Jairus followed up his faith in Jesus with obedience and service (Mark 5:43). Jesus told the overjoyed parents not to broadcast the news about the miracle of their daughter’s restoration. Why? Not because He didn’t want Jairus to testify of His faith in Jesus but because He didn’t want the synagogue leader to misstate Jesus’ role as the Messiah. Jesus’ divine mission was not just to heal us physically but also to become our Savior from sin and eternal death. That mission required Jesus to be the Suffering Servant who gave His life in atonement for our sins.
What steps of faith will you take today in your faith-journey with the Lord Jesus Christ?
David Briscoe is a content editor at Lifeway for Explore the Bible resources.