Eleventh in a series of posts highlighting how much the Bible has to say about healing.
21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. 22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. 24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
35 While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. 37 And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. 38 And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. 39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. 40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. 41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. 42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. 43 And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.Mark Chapter Five
Last time we contemplated together a woman healed from chronic blood loss. Her story was inserted amid this one in Mark chapter five because it took place on the way to Jairus’ house. Since I put published that post, I read David Ettinger’s post about this woman, which is well worth a visit. I follow David on WordPress but had not discovered his excellent and thought-provoking work back in 2021. Perhaps WordPress pulled it out of the archives and put it in my feed in response to my post. By whatever means it came to my attention this week, I am grateful!
Jairus (Jā·ī·res) is identified as a ruler of the synagogue. He arrives with the throng to petition Jesus to come and heal his daughter, whom he attests is at the brink of death. Jesus had already gained a lot of attention in the area by various miracles. As evidence, just look at the crowd that met Him as He and His disciples got out of the boat. Jairus could scarcely have been unaware. Very likely the members of his village had looked to him for guidance and had been asking his opinion of Jesus. What should they believe about Him? Neither would he have been blind to the condemning attitude toward Jesus held by his leaders in Jerusalem. The Pharisees’ rejection of Jesus is a stance they would have expected all synagogue leaders to follow unquestioningly. It is unknown what Jairus may have previously answered the members of the synagogue regarding Jesus. Had he publicly regurgitated the narrative of the Pharisees? Had he been openly questioning and undecided? We might well assume that Jairus was at the end of himself, to publicly come to Jesus asking for His help. He had clearly decided his daughter meant more to him than his religious position. Jairus knew of several healings performed by Jesus, and he did not hold back. His confession of faith in Jesus’ ability to heal his daughter was quite public (v23).
This account is also recorded in Matthew 9 and Luke 8. Matthew’s account is more compressed, omitting the person who appeared to inform Jairus that his daughter was, in fact, already dead (v35). This omission by Matthew is certainly understandable, as we see here that the news came during the initial conversation with Jesus. Note Jesus’ immediate response to Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe.” This word could be construed as intending to comfort, and it is. But it is more than that. There are many episodes where those who came to Jesus for healing were told, “Be it unto you as you have believed.” (Matthew 8:13) Also, remember He had just told the woman who (previously!) had the issue of blood, that her faith had made her well. Mark 9:23-24 gives us another example of a parent dealing with unbelief. Jesus Himself “could not” to do all the works that He wanted to do in his hometown because of unbelief (Mark 6:5-6). Do not think doubt in Nazareth somehow robbed Jesus of the power to heal − the truth is that Jesus always respects the will of those He deals with. More important than simply comforting Jairus was Jesus’ helping him combat the temptation to entertain fear and unbelief. That we walk by faith (in Jesus) is foundational to Christianity (Hebrews 11). We see that Jesus prevented the crowd from following further. The passage says in King James English He “suffered” no one to follow (or did not allow). This dismissal may have required some minor confrontation of the crowd. How would you set about sending people following you away without offending? Further, at Jairus’ home, He puts out the ones who have come to engage in mourning for Jairus’ now-dead daughter. Likely, these were members of Jairus’ synagogue. I believe both of these exclusions of the unbelieving crowd are intended to help Jairus by reducing the contrary messages he would have to deal with.
Jesus, in putting out the mourners, told them she was not dead but only sleeping, which brought ridicule from the group. Jesus was not in denial about the situation. His perspective in that moment is based in faith for the (near) future state of the girl, rather than her current state. We are unable to see into existence beyond death except by faith. God does not look at physical death in the same way men do. He is not limited by our material perception. We should take heed, for Jesus came to release us from bondage to the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15). The first report need not be the final word.
With the atmosphere of faith in the room improved, what did Jesus do? He opened His mouth and told the twelve-year-old what He wanted her to do, even as He extended His hand to help. “Talitha, cumi!”
Wow! Breath returned to her. Her pulse resumed. Consciousness flared. Up she came off her mat! Verse 42 says they were greatly amazed. The fact exceeded even the expectation they needed to see her resurrected. [There are four accounts of Jesus resurrecting the dead, if He is Himself included. I believe this twelve-year-old girl is the second (Luke 7:11-17).]
Jesus, as He often did, strictly charged them not to tell others. Many opinions have been expressed why He gave this instruction. All the members of the village would have heard already the girl was dead. Wouldn’t it be obvious something unusual had happened? My own opinion (you knew I had one) is that Jesus wanted to shield the family from a flood of vocalizations of unbelief until their faith was firmed up by their experience. Often in the time immediately following a miraculous healing, the healed one will be presented with a symptomatic recurrence. The temptation is to accept one or more of several common lies. Those who hold on to their healing are those who have learned put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6), to resist the enemy (James 4:7) by holding fast to their faith, even to speaking that resistance out loud (Romans 10:17) and fixing our (spiritual) eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).