These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Job 18:14 refers to disease and death as the “king of terrors” (NLT) and in Mark 5 we see Jesus easily conquer both: a woman who was bleeding for 12 years and the death of a young girl. Mark 5:21 says,
Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. 22 Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, 23 pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”
24 Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. 25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” 31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it.
33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
35 While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” 36 But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” 37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” 40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat. (NLT)
As a preview to His own resurrection, Jesus raised a number of people from the dead during His earthly ministry, including the son of a widow (Luke 7:11-15), a man named Lazarus (John 11:1-44), and this young woman we just read about (Mark 5:21-43). In so doing, He demonstrated His divine nature and power over death (cf. John 5:28-29). When the disciples of John the Baptist asked Him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Luke 7:20, NLT) Jesus answered by pointing to His power over disease and death: Jesus said, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, and deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Luke 7:22, NLT).
The two events in Mark 5 reveal the power of Jesus. As the Creator Himself (cf. John 1:1-3), He could restore just one part of the body (as demonstrated with the woman) and also bring an entire body back to life (as demonstrated with the young girl).
Let’s see what God’s Word has for us today by looking at verse 21 which says, Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore.
- We are told in Luke 8:40 that, “On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him” (NLT). There is no doubt this crowd was made up of many who were suffering from various diseases and disabilities. Hoping to be healed, they had waited eagerly for Jesus’ arrival.
- Mark’s account focuses on two individuals out of the massive crowd who desperately needed Jesus. They had little in common, other than a great need for Jesus to intervene in their life. One was a man, the other a woman; one wealthy, one poor; one respected, one rejected; one honored, one ignored; one a leader, one unknown; one had a twelve year old daughter who was sick; the other had been sick for 12 years.
- This reminds me that Jesus cared about everyone. To Jesus it doesn’t matter your background, your financial status, your popularity, and anything else. Jesus, He loved the world and in the individuals in it.
Mark tells us in verse 22, Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. A few things about this Jairus.
- Jairus was a “leader of the local synagogue.” This made him the caretaker and administrator of synagogue life. His job included safeguarding the scrolls, caring for the facility, organizing the synagogue school, and supervising the readers, teachers, and those who prayed. As such, Jairus would have been both religiously devout and highly respected in the community. None of the gospel writers identify Jairus as a member of the Pharisees. Even so, his position in the synagogue meant he was intimately connected with the Pharisees of Capernaum. He was undoubtedly aware of the hatred the religious leaders had toward Jesus. Yet, he was willing to go public with his view of Jesus.
- It is possible that the synagogue in which Jesus cast out a demon (in Mark 1:21-28) was the place where Jairus served as an official. If so, he likely had personally witnessed the Lord’s supernatural power. Jairus also would have heard of the many healing miracles Jesus performed, both in that city and in the surrounding regions. When the life of his daughter was at stake, he knew exactly whom to seek.
- Jairus already had a strong belief in God, but story after story and testimony after testimony, witness after witness describing what they saw and how God had healed them began to increase Jairus’ faith in Jesus. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (NLT).
- Given the hostility Jesus had received from the religious establishment (cf. 3:6; 22), the disciples must have been shocked when they saw a respected synagogue official making his way through the crowds to find Jesus.
Mark goes on to say, When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, 23 pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” How grateful he must have been when Jesus not only listened to his request but agreed to go with him to his home. The accessibility of Jesus is seen, not only in His willingness to intermingle with the crowds but also in His availability to go with one desperate man who needed Him. He was both accessible and available.
Now, let’s consider the three statements by Jesus regarding faith, hope, and love.
A statement of faith
The first statement is a statement of faith. Mark tells us in verse 35, While he was still speaking to her [Jesus had just healed a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years], messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead.” We are not told what went through Jairus’ mind and heart at that moment. We can only guess that he was consumed with grief and maybe some anger at the woman for delaying Jesus.
The “messengers” then tell Jairus, “There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” There bad news was followed by hopeless advice. In essence they said, “Jairus, your daughter is dead and there is nothing Jesus can do for her. It’s over.” We shouldn’t be too hard on these messengers because from their perspective Jesus had healed a lot of people, but it’s one thing to heal the sick, it’s another thing to raise the dead. This would have stretched anybody’s faith. As a matter fact, Mary and Martha would later have a similar reaction when their brother Lazarus died (John 11:21, 32).
But look what happens in verse 36, But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” According to Luke 8:50, Jesus added the promise, “she will be healed.” With tender compassion, authority, and gentleness Jesus was about to do something that no one believed possible.
- Let me remind us that what seems like a delay to us is often a setup for God do something even greater than what we thought possible. But just like Jairus we all still need that word of faith and that word of encouragement from the Lord when it seems like all is lost and there is no hope. This is why it’s important to stay in the Word of God. The Bible is not just some book, but it is God’s primary way of talking to us. It’s amazing how often what you need for that that day or that problem is in your daily devotion or daily Bible reading.
Mark tells us in verse 37, Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing.
- When Jesus, Jairus, and the three disciples “came to the home of the synagogue leader,” they discovered that the funeral had already begun. The journey to the house, delayed by Jesus’ interaction with the woman (vv. 25-34), had taken long enough for mourners to assemble.
- Three distinctive elements characterized the funerals at that time.
- First, those who attended expressed their grief by tearing their clothes. Jewish tradition included 39 regulations on how one’s clothes were to be torn. For example, relatives of the deceased were required to rip their garments directly over the heart. The tear could be sewed up loosely, but it was to be worn over a 30 day period as a sign of prolonged grief.
- Second, professional mourners were hired to vocalize and broadcast feelings of sadness. Agony was magnified, not shrouded in silence; these professionals had mastered the art of howling and groaning. Their sorrowful sounds set the mood for everyone who attended.
- Third, the funeral included the hiring of musicians, most commonly flute-players (cf. Matt. 9:23). Like the mourners, they would play loud, sad sounds that symbolized the emotional discord and pain associated with death. Clearly, such occasions were neither quiet nor subdued.
This is why Mark tells us that Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. So, when Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house, the scene was chaotic, loud, and depressing. In keeping with Jarius’ position as a high-ranking synagogue official, the number of hired mourners and musicians was probably large. Jesus told the mourners to “stop weeping” (Luke 8:52) and to “leave” (Matt. 9:24). The unexpected interruption undoubtedly brought the funeral to a halt, as startled mourners shut their mouths and stunned musicians put down their flutes. The drama of the moment was intensified by the sudden silence.
A statement of hope
We have seen the statement of faith that Jesus gives Jairus and now we see a statement of hope. Mark tells us in verse 39, He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” Things do not appear as they really are. Things are not as bad as they appear or feel. The presence of the mourners in the home is proof that the girl was actually dead, for the family would not have called them if there had been even the slightest hope that the girl was still alive.
For Jesus, even death is not final. This statement by Jesus reveals two things about Jesus.
- First, it reveals Jesus’ theology about death. The Lord’s statement, “The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep” are words of hope for every believer. Jesus is not trying to be funny or cute or simply lighten the moment. This is a theological statement by Jesus on the subject of death.
- The Bible teaches that for believers, death is only sleep. The body rests until the moment of our resurrection (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The spirit does not sleep when you die. Your spirit leaves the body (James 2:26) and goes to be with Jesus (Philippians 1:20-23). When you die your body goes to sleep, awaiting the return of the Lord and the resurrection of the believers (1 Cor. 15:51-58). This is a word of hope.
- Second, this statement reveals Jesus’ authority over death. This situation provided Jesus with an opportunity to display His life-giving power. By using the metaphor of sleep, the Lord redefined death as a temporary state. Every person Jesus raised from the dead pointed to His own resurrection, the believers’ resurrection, and His authority over death.
This is not the only time Jesus described someone who was dead as only sleeping. In John 11:11, Jesus responded similarly to the death of Lazarus, telling the disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but now I will go and wake him up” (NLT). Jesus was talking to Martha about the death of Lazarus and he said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11:25, NLT). On that occasion, not even His disciples immediately understood what Jesus was saying. But you and I now know, that Jesus was saying that He has authority over death and He demonstrated that authority when He resurrected from the grave and that authority has now been passed on to us to experience when we die. The reason Jesus raised people from the dead was to demonstrate His authority over death and to illustrate what was to come for Him and those who followed Him.
Look at verse 40 at how the crowded responded to Jesus statement about the girl only being asleep, The crowd laughed at him. To them the girl was dead and she was dead. Those who examined the body before Jesus arrived confirmed she was dead. No heartbeat, no breathing, and the color of her skin was beginning to change. They thought Jesus was foolish and didn’t know what He was talking about. This was going to be a learning experience for everyone. Jesus was about to reveal another level of His authority to His disciples and to this girl’s parents.
Mark goes on to say, But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Having restored order where there had been chaos, the Lord was about to restore life where there was death.
A statement of love
We have seen a statement of faith and a statement of hope given by Jesus. Now he gives a statement of love and power. Mark tells us in verse 41, Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” By “holding her hand” Jesus demonstrates compassion, tenderness, and comfort in the situation. Jesus is not uncomfortable being around sickness, death, or those who are grieving. He is perfect love illustrated.
- By speaking in Aramaic, Jesus was speaking their language. He had entered their world to bring faith, hope and love. The words Jesus spoke and the way He did this miracle is not a magic formula that anybody might use to raise the dead. This was simply the kingdom of God demonstrating its power through the Lord in one family’s life.
In verse 42 Mark says, And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.
- “Immediately” “her spirit returned” (Luke 8:55) and the girl “stood up and walked around!” The young girl was dead one moment, and alive and full of energy the next. There was no time needed for recovery, rehabilitation, or physical therapy. Its effects were immediate, complete, and undeniable.
In verse 43, Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened.[i] Jesus said things like this to people often, especially at the beginning of His earthly ministry.[ii] Sometimes it was to keep the crowds from getting any larger. Sometimes it was keep miracle seekers away. He purpose was much more than just being a miracle worker. Sometimes it was judgement to hide truth from those who would permanently reject Him. Sometimes He wanted them to hold back on telling their story because their story was not finished yet. For Jesus, He knew very well that this would make more sense after His own resurrection. Jesus knew that a miracle like the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter could only be fully appreciated in light of the cross and the empty tomb. Ultimately, it was His own victory over sin and death that enabled Him not only to give temporary life to a dead girl but to offer eternal life to all those who believe in Him (cf. Rom 8:11).
Finally, Mark concludes this event by saying, and then he told them to give her something to eat. Divine miracles never replace commonsense human care; otherwise, we are tempting God. She had been miraculously resurrected, but she still needed food. Having suffered from a terminal disease, likely for a prolonged period of time, it may have been weeks or even months since her last full meal. Jesus graciously recognized her need for nourishment and instructed her parents accordingly.
Jesus is the conqueror over danger, demons, disease, and death. Jesus had been teaching about the kingdom of God, now Jesus was demonstrating the kingdom of God. This series of miracles illustrates how Jesus met and helped all kinds of people, from His own disciples to a couple of demon possessed men; and it assures us that He is able to help us today.
This does not mean that God always must rescue His people from danger (see Acts 12) or heal every affliction (see 2 Cor. 12:1-10); but it does mean that He holds the ultimate authority and that we need never fear. We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
[i] Jesus told the witnesses to keep quiet (Mark 1:44; 3:12). Perhaps the word got out from the mourners that the girl had been “in a coma” and had not actually been dead. According to them, there had not been a miracle after all! However, there had been witnesses to the miracle. The Law required only two or three witnesses for confirmation of truth (Deut. 17:6; 19:15), but for this miracle there were five witnesses! We have reason to conclude that Jairus and his wife became believers in Jesus Christ, through there is no further mention of them in the Gospel record. All her life, the daughter was a witness to the power of Jesus Christ.
[ii] He issued similar commands on other occasions too (Matt. 8:4; 9:30; 12:16; 17:9; Mark 1:25; 34, 44; 3:12; 7:36; 8:26, 30; 9:9; Luke 4:41; 9:21). Why did He do this? There were times when Jesus insisted on silence because He knew the report would heighten the fanatical enthusiasm of the crowds, which would only hinder His ministry (cf. mark 1:40-45; John 6:14-15). On other occasions, it was an act of judgment intended to obscure truth from those who had permanently rejected Him (cf. Luke 9:21). Those reasons are not the main reasons Jesus repeatedly called for this kind of mandatory silence. Mark 8:30 reveals the primary purpose: “Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead” (vv. 30-31, NLT). The Lord knew His earthly mission would not be finished until after His death and resurrection, and no one, including His own disciples (cf. Mark 9:32; Luke 9:45; 18:34; John 12:16), would fully understand His message until then. Jesus did not want to be known simply as a miracle worker or teacher. Those designations, while accurate, are incomplete because He came for a greater purpose (cf. Luke 19:10). He insisted on silence, then, because the story was not yet finished. (MacArthur, 267).