He told them to give her something to eat. That’s the part that makes St. Mark’s telling of this story art, makes it even a little funny. But to find the funny, to find the humor in today’s Gospel lesson, we had to wait until the end of the story. Most of it is not very funny at all. Not funny, but awesome.
Earlier this week a friend of mine asked me what I was preaching on this week, so I told her that the Gospel lesson was the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and I told her that I thought that this is one of the best episodes in the earthly life of Jesus recorded for us in the Gospels. She asked me what the point of my sermon would be, and my first reaction was to say that I just hoped to relate how awesome the story really is; about how awesome, awesome as in cool, keen, marvelous, neat, nifty, sensational, swell, how awesome Jesus really is. There’s no need to draw much out of the story to make that point, we just have to look at the story itself.
St. Mark tells us that Jesus had once again crossed over the sea, another seemingly arbitrary sea crossing, and that he was mobbed as soon as He got off the boat. Jesus has become the talk of the town, ten towns as a matter of fact, His fame had spread through the Decapolis, a grouping of ten cities in Israel, Jordon and Syria; Jesus had become known mostly as the guy who had driven out a legion of demons into a herd of swine, an act that caused quite a sensation. He was mobbed everywhere He went, and through this great sea of people came a man named Jairus.
Jairus was the ruler of a synagogue, most likely the synagogue in Capernaum. Jairus, in all probability, had already met Jesus before this episode, he had most likely met Him and heard Him teach in the synagogue. It is possible that Jairus had become an early follower of Jesus, but the more probable scenario is that Jairus, like most of the leaders in the synagogues, saw this Jesus as a threat to his power, his social standing, a threat to his whole way of life. Jairus’ past contact with Jesus may have been more contentious than friendly, more threatening than welcoming, but as we can all understand, everything changes when your daughter is on her deathbed.
And so Jairus made his way through the crowd, eager, desperate to find Jesus, desperate for his daughter’s last chance at life. When Jairus found Him, he fell at the feet of his daughter’s last chance, Jairus left his feet, he physically left his standing, left his power in the city behind. Jairus begged Jesus, St. Mark said that he begged Him repeatedly, 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.” And so Jesus went. But it was too late.
On the way to Jairus’ house, some people found them and said to Jairus, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” Your daughter is dead. Hope is gone, life is gone, her last chance was one chance too many to ask. But Jesus overheard them, turned to Jairus and said, “Do not fear, only believe.” For whatever reason, be it desperation or shame or hope or actual belief, Jairus allows Jesus to continue to his house, to go and see this dead daughter of his. Upon arrival they found weeping and wailing, loud crying over the life that was lost, deep mourning over what her life could have been, the children she could have had. Jesus walked into this crowd of mourners and made a bit of a scene, He said “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” I like to think that the mourners didn’t know with whom they were dealing, for they mocked Jesus, laughed at Him, the women waved their arms at Him for making such a ridiculous statement. Jesus kicked them all out of the house save Jairus and his wife and the disciples that were with Him, and went to the little dead girl. Jesus took the little girl by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” The little girl then took her first breath in some time, she breathed in the Word the God Who was tenderly holding her hand. She was twelve years old again, full of life, and apparently…hungry.
Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Too funny. St. Mark tells us that all those present were overcome by amazement, they sat dumb at the scene of the miracle, at the sight of a formerly dead twelve year old walking around the house as if nothing had happened. Not for nothing, she wasn’t even sick anymore, the girl they had seen expire was now inspiring overwhelming awe. The way St. Mark tells the story, it seems that whatever Jersey Jesus had in Him came out, He looked at the crowd and said, in effect, “Will you people, for the love of all that is holy, give this poor thing something to eat?” Jesus is awesome.
Seriously. That day in Capernaum Jesus took a major detour from His travels, broke the rules about the touching of corpses, and showed Himself to be compassionate, kind, powerful, and funny, all because Jairus asked Him to. Jesus hasn’t changed, He’s still the same Jesus He always was, still awesome, still cool, keen, marvelous, neat, nifty, sensational, and swell; He’s still Jesus. What have you asked of Him lately?