“Taking her by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ Immediately the girl got up and began walking.” Mark 5:41-42a
He took her by the hand and gave her new life.
She was only twelve years old, but she already had her daddy twisted around her little finger, brute though he may have appeared to some. Her mother saw so much of herself in this girl that it seemed uncanny. This day, Mom and Dad stood silently. Physically present, but minds miles away. To another place. A happy place. A place where their little girl ran wild and free. A place where thoughts of death were about as common as thoughts of the sun turning black. Mom and dad stood silently together, snapped back to reality as they stared at their daughter lying on her bed – the sun did turn black; death has come to their doorstep.
All of a sudden, without warning, Dad left the dying girl and the grieving mother.
This was the last man anyone would have expected to be looking for Jesus of Nazareth. A father, yes, but also a ruler of the Jewish synagogue. Devoutly orthodox and devotedly opposed to this usurper of authority, yet here he came. Falling at His feet. Barely coherent. Crying out between sobs. “Help me . . . help me.” This enemy of Jesus now wept at His trail-worn feet and begged for undeserved mercy. “My daughter . . . is near death . . . will you heal her?” As he spoke, memories of happy times with his daughter, of lazy hand-holding, flowed into his mind like water yet cut like a knife. “PLEASE . . . time is short.”
Jesus of Nazareth went with this hopeless father.
Not far down the road to the house of grief and misery, a servant had come looking for his master. This Ruler of the Synagogue had run off so fast that no one had a chance to inquire of his intentions or destination. The father’s heart sunk when he saw his servant, already knowing the report would be awful. Jesus also knew. Together they tearfully heard the worst news imaginable. “Your daughter is dead”.
Still they went on. “Do not fear, only believe”, said Jesus to the now numb father. In the heat of the moment, when this young father’s world had just collapsed and crumbled, Jesus stayed by his side. Walking him to a place he didn’t want to go. Jesus accompanied the Ruler of the Synagogue who was now reduced to nothing but a whimpering pile of mush. Together they entered the room of death. His daughter’s death.
Jesus touched the little girl’s cold, lifeless hand. A hand that had, only last week, clutched her daddy’s hand. Breaking the silence, Jesus spoke, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Why? Why say such things? Such ridiculous words. Such an unfair situation. Why her? Why us? What did she ever do to deserve death? And why is this Jesus standing there with her hand in His, mocking the whole situation? Mocking death?
Before the father could react, the unimaginable happened – the little girl listened! Holding the hand of Jesus of Nazareth, the little girl got up! Shocked, happy beyond measure, the girl’s mother rushed to hug and kiss her daughter. Jesus placed the little girl’s hand back in her daddy’s hand. Back where it belonged.
Death left this room. The sun shined brightly through the window. The carefree smile returned to the daughter’s face; to her mother’s face; the tear-streaked face of a father who had just looked death in the eyes and overcame. Jesus cast death out of the room that day.
Jesus took the dead girl by the hand and gave new life to her and her father. Jesus of Nazareth offers the same new life to you.
“And on that final day
When all the dead are waking,
Stretch out Your mighty hand,
My deathly slumber breaking.
Then let me hear Your voice,
Redeem this earthly frame,
And bid me to rejoice
With those who love Your name.”
O God, My Faithful God (LSB, 696)