In Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43; and Luke 8:41-56 appears the account of the resurrection of Jairus' twelve-year-old daughter. Having recently performed the astonishing exorcism of the legion of demons, Jesus' renown was quickly spreading. As He is thronged by a multitude of curious and desperate people, a distraught father bows to Him, desperately asking Him to heal his dying daughter.
Jesus responds by going immediately to the home of the father, Jairus (Mark 5:22), a ruler of the same synagogue that the centurion had built for the Jews and whose servant Christ had healed (Matthew 8:5-13). On the way, He heals a woman with a serious issue of blood (see Forerunner, "Bible Study," March-April 2010).
It is obvious that Jairus knew all about Jesus' enlightening teachings, and because of His miraculous ministry, he was convinced of His power. Although he expresses unhesitating faith in Christ's ability to heal, his faith is not equal to the centurion's, who believed that distance was no hindrance to limitless power. Jairus believes Christ's presence in his home is necessary and so beseeches Him to come and touch his daughter.
Notice the details that Mark and Luke add about this girl: Mark records that her father calls her "my little daughter," while Luke relates that she was an only child, highlighting how precious she was to her father.
1. What does Christ's immediate reaction to the news that the girl is dead tell us about Him? Mark 5:35-37; Luke 8:49-50.
Comment: As Jesus walks to Jairus' home, a friend informs Jairus of the sad news, "Your daughter is dead." In the Greek, "dead" is placed first for emphasis; it literally reads, "Dead is your daughter." Such a statement would have been devastating, but being in Christ's presence gave the grief-stricken father hope. Jesus is seen as the Encourager. He is willing, even eager, to help the sick and dying. Though He refuses to flaunt His power, He is quick to glorify the God of powerful healing.
As soon as Jesus overhears the news, He intervenes to curb the fear welling up in the brokenhearted father, countering with encouragement: "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well." With a word of hope, He changes the father's focus, and with gentleness and compassion, comforts him. In II Corinthians 5:5-7, the apostle Paul assures us that our consolation abounds through Christ.
2. Why does Jesus say that she is "but sleeping"? Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52.
Comment: In that culture, crowds of relatives and neighbors commonly showed up at the dwelling of the deceased to mourn. In the midst of this confusion and noise, Jesus declares, "The child is not dead but sleeping." Being ignorant of His use of "sleep" for death, the mourners deride Him.
Christ says the same of His dead friend, Lazarus, in John 11:11. Death as sleep is a euphemism common to many nations. It intimates that, even more sure than morning comes to a sleeper in bed, an everlasting morning will be provided for the righteous dead waiting in the grave for the resurrection. Jesus views death as a temporary sleep because His Father has the power to resurrect anyone from death. God can resurrect whom He wants when He wants, but He has an organized plan, purpose, and schedule for resurrections (I Corinthians 15:20-24; Revelation 20:5-6).
3. Why does Christ exclude the mourners from observing Him heal the girl? Matthew 9:25; Mark 5:40; Luke 8:54.
Comment: Not wanting to cast His pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6) or to make a spectacle in front of unbelievers (Matthew 13:58), Jesus expels all but the girl's parents. By clearing the room of an excessively noisy, grieving crowd, He brings privacy, peace, quiet, and stillness to the situation.
In addition, these neighbors and curiosity seekers had already seen His mighty works, and He does not want God's gift to be considered entertainment. He never meant His miracles to coerce belief or amaze humanity. Nevertheless, He is quick to intervene when misery and suffering need to be relieved and people need to be exposed to God's glory.
Jesus resurrects Jairus' daughter in the presence of five appropriate witnesses: the father, mother, and only three of His disciples, Peter, James, and John. To establish the miracle's veracity, He uses two unconverted people and three who were being converted (Deuteronomy 19:15; II Corinthians 13:1).
4. Why does Jesus command the girl's parents to feed her when she has just been healed? Mark 5:43; Luke 8:55.
Comment: His attention to such detail reveals His characteristic kindness and sympathy. That He orders nourishment suggests that her body was still weak and needed to be strengthened, showing that she was resurrected to physical existence. Those who saw her did not see a spirit but a human. Her body, still dependent on natural laws, needed to be nourished.
Christ finishes by requesting that the parents "tell no one what had happened" (Mark 5:43; Luke 8:56), partly to save the little girl from rude gawkers, but most probably so that fame would not hinder her future spiritual life. The world scorns the reality of resurrection because sin separates them from God, but the day is not far off when the "dead in Christ" will respond to His simple but powerful command, "Arise!" (John 5:28-29; I Thessalonians 4:16).