Tag Archives: Talitha

Jairus (Part 2): Mark 5: 35-43

Jairus was the leader of the synagogue in Capernaum, a fishing port on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He was an important and well known figure in the local community. Capernaum is also the town where Jesus had made his home. This is the second part of the story of Jairus. You can read the first part, when Jairus asks Jesus to come to his house urgently here. You also need to read about an incident which occurs when Jesus is on his way to Jairus’ house. You can read about it here.

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Mark 5: 35-43 (NIV)

Horsham, 9th July 2024

This is an awesome story. It speaks of the humanity and deity of Jesus. I just want to tell this story in the way I believe it happened. You can read it in Matthew 9:18-26 and Luke 8: 40-56.

Jairus had a daughter who was about to turn 12 years old when she became gravely ill. Jesus had agreed to come to his house and lay his hands on the daughter. They made their way through the narrow streets, accompanied by the disciples and a growing crowd of people, eager to be close to Jesus. On the way, a life changing miracle takes place, in the healing of a sick lady in the crowd (read about it here). Almost before that incident is over, here are members of Jairus’ household. The news is blunt and horrific. ‘Your daughter is dead.’  I can’t begin to imagine how devastating this news was for Jairus. Jesus knows this man. He is a man of compassion. In my mind I see Jesus physically reaching out to this broken man, perhaps putting his hand on him, perhaps even embracing him. Barely loud enough for anyone to hear except Jairus and one or two of the disciple, Jesus says ‘Don’t be afraid. Only believe.’

I think that they kept the crowd in the street, outside the courtyard of Jairus’ house. Only Peter, James and John went on and into the house. Peter and John are fishermen in the town (Mark 1:16-20). As Jewish men, they probably know the family. Perhaps James does too. Are they familiar faces to Jairus’ family?

Jesus silences the mourners. ‘ The child is not dead. She is asleep.’ No wonder they laugh at him. They know death when they see it. They know the girl is dead. He throws them out into the courtyard – perhaps into the street. Sense the moment. Feel the stillness in the room. Smell the incense. Sense the grief Mum and Dad. Three disciples. One little girl. A precious daughter. And Jesus.

Talitha. Koum!

This is not Jesus casting out a evil. This is not Jesus teaching or raising his voice before a crowd. Look at the compassion on his face. The gentleness in his manner.

‘Little one’. In some dialects, ‘Talitha’ can mean ‘Little Lamb’. Jesus is on his knees by the bed, holding the child’s hand. Whispering to the child. Luke tells us that in that moment the child’s spirit returned (Luke 8:55). In my mind, I see the child stirring – stretching – as if awakening from the deepest sleep. It’s possible that she knows who Jesus is.  She sees her Mum and Dad, kneeling beside her, overwhelmed by emotion. Slowly, she rises from the bed. She gets to her feet and straight into the arms of her parents.

‘Give her something to eat.’

I was surprised that Jesus tells the parents not to tell anyone what happened. After all, this is a massive miracle and surely most of the town already know! Those who didn’t hear the wailing mourners will have seen Jairus in despair out in the street. There’s a huge crowd in the street outside. It’s difficult to explain, except, if you imagine you were there, it seems so obvious. It’s not that no-one is to know anything about this. After all, the story brings huge glory to God.

That gentle voice of Jesus. ‘Take a moment. You need some time. She needs peace and quiet, and so do you. Don’t rush outside and tell people. All that can wait. Keep everyone outside. Just allow what has happened to sink in – become real.’

This is a powerful story. Few moments in the gospel so plainly show the humanity and compassion of Jesus, and in the same moment his power and authority. As I try to contemplatively walk through this scene from the Gospel story, I find myself in awe of the one whose still, small voice, calmed and encouraged a father in despair, and called back the spirit of a much loved dying child, gently restoring her to her parents.

Richard Jackson, West Sussex: LifePictureUK