As we journey through Mark, the evidence is mounting that Jesus is the Messiah. First, he claimed to have the authority to forgive sins. Then we saw him deal with an overwhelming external storm and an overwhelming internal storm, followed by a debilitating physical illness. With this question, he confronts the final enemy: death.
5:21And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. – Mark 5:21-24
This story is interrupted by the account of the woman with the hemorrhage who touched Jesus in hopes of being healed. The verse we’re going to start with begins with “While Jesus was still speaking” — that is speaking to the woman in the story we looked at in the last podcast.
5:35While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. – Mark 5:35-43
- When Jesus asks the question in Mark 5:39, he has not yet seen the girl. Mark tells us in 5:40 that’s when he entered the room where the girl was.
- When he asks this question, Jesus is making a bigger point about death.
- The question is directed at the mourners.
- In that culture, professional mourners would gather and begin wailing as a way to announce the death. The role of the mourners was to acknowledge and announce that death as occurred.
- Notice the contrast between Mark 5:35 and Mark 5:39. Who do you listen to? The mourners? Or Jesus? Is there hope or no hope?
- Jesus is not challenging their grief. Grief is appropriate (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
- Contrast Jesus’s tenderness with the family versus his severity with the mourners.
- Jesus makes the crowd stay behind so they can move faster (lessening the time of the father’s grief) and to make his suffering more private.
- He touches the girl’s body even through doing so would make him ritually unclean.
- The child would have heard this phrase “Talitha koum!“-“Dear little girl, get up!” – her whole life.
- Notice Jesus does nothing else but speak. No theatrics, no rituals, no incantations.
- All of this kindness makes a point: Jesus knows death is not the final victor, but he treats those struggling with death with the greatest compassion and tenderness.
- The role of the mourners is to proclaim that death was won. Jesus refutes that claim (Hebrews 2:24-15).
- Jesus said, don’t be afraid, just believe. We have one who is greater than death on our side.
- Ultimately, death will be defeated.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.