September 26, 2016 • Life for Leaders
He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.
How I wish I could have witnessed this event in Mark’s Gospel! It is filled with such irony and emotion, as Jesus approached the home of the synagogue leader with a daughter who had just died. I expect the leader was deeply grieved, perhaps even angry that Jesus had been slowed down by the woman who touched the hem of his garment. If he had only hurried, perhaps his daughter could have been healed!
Then there’s the reaction of the mourners. As was common in this culture, the death of a person brought a crowd of people to grieve. There were even professional mourners who were hired to amplify the sadness. Yet when Jesus said that the child was only asleep, the mourners laughed at him. Ah, but he would have the last laugh!
Approaching the dead girl, Jesus didn’t recite magic words or get all worked up, rather he said, simply, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” (5:41). (Mark even records the actual Aramaic words of Jesus in his Gospel, which is otherwise written in Greek.) Then what happened was truly amazing. “Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around” (5:42). Mark adds, “At this [the onlookers] were completely astonished.” No kidding! Jesus was known to be a healer. But raising someone from the dead? This put him in a whole new league.
Unfortunately, Mark does not tell us what happened with the mourners outside. How I would love to have seen their faces when they saw the resurrected girl. Laughter at Jesus’ folly became laughter of wonderment and joy. Mourning turned into rejoicing. Wow!
This story reminds us of the extraordinary power of God that was operating through Jesus. It also reminds that Jesus surprises us with his grace. He still does unexpected things, even in us. Moreover, in this story of a girl raised from the dead we see a picture of our own fate in the hands of Jesus. Though we will one day die, we too will be raised to new life, the eternal life of the age to come.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you put yourself into this story from Mark, what do you think and feel?
How have you experienced the resurrection power of Jesus in your own life?
Gracious Lord, I love this story! It is so filled with irony and grace and surprise. I wish I could have been there to witness the raising of the girl, and then to see the looks on the faces of the mourners who had laughed at you. Of course, I might have been one of those scoffers.
O Lord, you do turn mourning into rejoicing. All praise be to you! You do raise the dead to new life! What a wonder! And you do surprise me with your amazing grace, again and again and again! Hallelujah! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Healing and the Kingdom of God
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.