During his earthly ministry, Jesus raised three people from the dead: Jairus’ daughter, the son of an unnamed widow, and Lazarus. Of these three people Lazarus is perhaps the most well-known and widely studied, but a twelve-year-old girl was actually the first person in the gospel records to be brought back to life by Jesus (Mark 5:21-43).
As in the later story of Lazarus, the story of Jairus’ daughter began with a request to Jesus for healing. And in similar fashion, there was a delay, a death, Jesus’ apparently too late arrival, his call to have faith, and finally a miraculous restoration of life.
Jesus’ command to Jairus’ daughter yielded immediate results. In spite of the skepticism of the waiting crowd of mourners, the girl rose from the dead. Her healing was not a partial one nor one that required a long period of recuperation. It was both immediate and complete.
At Jesus’ touch and by his word, the girl returned to normal life. She opened her eyes and rose from her bed. She walked around the room. She took food and drink from her parents. Once the crowd of mourners had laughed at Jesus; now it was the girl’s turn to laugh with joy over her recovered strength. Now she would resume her place in her family and among her friends. She could look forward to growing up and becoming an adult.
When Jesus raised up Jairus’ daughter, he did not want the miracle made public. Instead, he charged those who witnessed it to keep the matter confidential. He took care to guard the girl’s privacy and to allow her to return to normal life–to rise and walk, to speak, to laugh, to run, to eat, to drink. These very ordinary activities were enough to proclaim the miraculous work of God. They were enough to cause all those present to be filled with wonder.
One of the reasons I love this story is this celebration of normal life. It celebrates the ability to get out of bed as if from a good night’s sleep. It celebrates the gift of physical strength, of standing and walking, of laughing and praising, of eating and drinking. It reminds us that everyday life is precious and made for joy and praise.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: What areas of ordinary life do you tend to take for granted? How might you re-capture a sense of wonder and thanksgiving to God?
This story is included in Remember Lot’s Wife and Other Unnamed Women of the Bible.