How I wish I could have witnessed this event in Mark’s Gospel! It is filled with such irony. Jesus approached the home of the synagogue leader with a daughter who had just died, and 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, get up!” (Mark even records the actual Aramaic words of Jesus in his Gospel, which is otherwise written in Greek.) Then the most amazing thing happened. The girl “immediately stood up and walked around!” (5:42). Mark adds, “They were overwhelmed and totally amazed!” 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.
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 FOR REFLECTION: 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?
PRAYER: I love this story, Lord! It is so filled with irony and grace. 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.
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.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.