“When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, He said, ‘Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.’ And they began laughing at Him. But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. This news spread throughout all that land” (Matthew 9:23–26).
Unlike those in the contemporary Western world, funerals in most ancient cultures, including the Jewish one of Jesus’ time, were not events with reverent music and quiet whispers. Instead funerals featured much loud wailing by professional mourners and dissonant music played by hired musicians. Because Jairus was the top leader of the local synagogue and a wealthy man, he probably hired a large number of mourners and musicians for his daughter’s funeral.
Jesus surprised and annoyed the mourners by telling them to leave, claiming that the girl was not dead but asleep (cf. John 11:11). That the people’s weeping turned so quickly to harsh, derisive laughter—the kind by those feeling superior to another—showed that their mourning was indeed an insincere, paid action devoid of genuine sorrow or any real faith that the Lord could raise Jairus’s daughter.
Mark’s account of this episode adds these details: Jesus “entered the room where the child was. Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, ‘Talitha kum!’ (which translated means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk” (Mark 5:40c–42a). Christ easily could have resuscitated her by a mere word, but His intimate interaction displayed a healing compassion far more than what was minimally necessary. And it convincingly showed His power over every enemy of mankind, including “the final enemy” of death and hades (cf. Rev. 1:18).
We can always expect faith to be met by doubters and revilers, even among those in the church—sometimes especially by those in the church. What kind of an impact does this have on your willingness to believe? Are you ever the cold water on anyone else’s spiritual passion?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610