The story of Jairus' daughter is standard fare in Children's Bibles, but there is a remarkable contrast hidden within this deceptively familiar tale which belies a deeper lesson, a shadow of God's dealings with His People through the ages.
There are two interwoven stories in the Gospel accounts that conspire to create a chain of events with apparently disasterous consequences for Jairus. Impeded partly by the crowd and delayed by the inadvertent healing of a severely ill woman, Jesus is unable to reach Jairus' daughter before news arrives that she has died. Encouraging the ruler to believe, Jesus proceeds to the house, throws out the paid mourners, and raises the little girl from the dead.
The contrast lies in the healing of the woman, in comparison to the resurrection of Jairus' daughter:
Jairus is the male ruler of the synagogue (Mark 5v22), whereas the woman is ritually unclean (Mark 5v25 c.f. Lev 15v25). They are at opposite ends of the social ladder.
The woman had great faith: rather than being skeptical of Jesus (which you might imagine as she'd already been to many doctors), she believed Christ could heal her. By contrast Jairus was ready to give up when he heard his daughter had died.
Jesus entered the household and spoke privately to the little girl to heal her. The woman was healed in public, and with a full confession of her faith.
Jairus spoke to Jesus first, but experienced healing last. The woman spoke to Jesus last, but was healed first.
What does this contrast remind you of? Jews and Gentiles, perhaps?
God spoke to the Jew first, then the Gentile.
Jesus equates Gentiles to dogs (Matt15v24-28), as opposed to Israel who are counted as God's children.
Israel repeatedly demonstrated unbelief, in contrast to the belief that was demonstrated by the Gentiles.
Israel is saved when Jesus returns to the household in their time of greatest need (Zech 14v3-5). By this time the "fullness" of the Gentile harvest has already been reaped (Rom 11v25-26).
The salvation of Israel is greeted with astonishment (v43 c.f. Zech 12v10-11), whereas the Gentile believers wait in full expectation of their healing (1 Thess 5v9-10).
Jairus plays the part of the upstanding Jewish citizen. The woman, by contrast, is unclean, and like the Gentiles is an alien to the commonwealth of Israel. Yet by her practised faith she is healed, at first unseen by the world around, but finally confessed before all. Only when Jairus' plight seems hopeless does Jesus enter the household, cast out the mockers, and raise up the daughter of Israel to new life.
So why was Jairus interrupted? Because:
"...many who are first will be last, and the last, first." - Mark 10v31 (NASB)