Mark 5:37–43 NRSV
He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat
When it comes to the work of the Holy Spirit on earth, faith is the coin of the realm. Notice Jesus only took a very select group of people with him into the home where the little girl lay dead. He took her parents, Peter, James, and John. He took the inner circle. Why? He could have gone in alone and taken care of it. The girl was dead. Jesus goes in alone. He comes out carrying her and presents her to her parents. That’s a good story. Jesus gets all the credit and all the glory, right?
So why the entourage? For starters, we must remember Jesus is always making disciples for the transformation of the world. This is a prime disciple-making moment. Then and now, Jesus wants his disciples to have a full repertoire of ministry experiences. Healing? Check. Prophetic speech? Check. Setting captives free from demonic strongholds? Check. Raising a little girl from the dead? Check!
We need to grasp that just as the first disciples had these profound experiences in their memory, so we have them in ours. Faith means living out of the memory of the past performance of Jesus.
Second, I think that’s why Jesus took these particular people into the house. They had faith. Jairus would never have left his home in such a crisis to go and find Jesus miles away had he no faith in him. These three disciples had seen him perform miracle after miracle. They had faith. Additionally, these disciples had a deep hope. And God knows those parents were hoping against hope for a miracle. Recall in the end only three things last forever: faith, hope, and, yes, love. And which is the greatest? BINGO—love! I began by saying faith was the coin of the realm in the kingdom of God. I stand corrected. Love is the coin of the realm. The only person who loved this little girl more than her parents was Jesus, and Jesus was teaching his faith-filled disciples what the love of God looks like and how it works. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6).
Faith is a go-for-it mentality, but lest faith be steeped in hope and trained by love it will not work. Love never fails. Miracle or no miracle, love never fails.
I keep remembering that storm on the Sea of Galilee, the near-death experience. Could it be that Jesus allowed these disciples to endure a near-death experience so they might be more attuned to the near-death experiences happening all around them all the time? Faith moving in love looks like the Holy Spirit bringing the overwhelming calm of peace right into the eye of the storm. Did you pick up the detail about the scene? The text described it as “a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.” This was Level 1 Trauma.
That storm on the Sea of Galilee . . . it never stopped. Though the winds were calmed, the storm never stopped. The storm raged among the tombs as the demon-possessed man wandered in pain. The storm raged twelve years in the life of the woman who could not find a cure. The storm raged in the home of Jairus as his daughter lay dead. The storm raged right up to the cross itself and beyond. And it rages to the present day. The storm will not prevail but it will not stop until the very end, until all is said and done. The big deal is not the storm outside, but the peace inside.
It’s why Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6–7). The peace of God rules like a sentry standing guard, watching over our hearts and minds, keeping them hidden in the refuge of who Jesus is.
Note the way Jesus speaks simple words in the power of the Spirit in these situations. Talitha cum! It means, “Up, Girl!” He says to the storm, “Be still!” He says to lepers, “Be clean!” He says to the blind, “Receive your sight.” He says to the paralyzed man, “Arise and go.” He says to the parents, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” He says to the woman, “Daughter.”
To minister in the way of Jesus means we share in his authority to speak such words of power and blessing into the lives of others. What if our words only have effect to the degree they are anchored in the power of his love?
What word of bold love might he be saying to you and me? What word might he have for us to speak into another?
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
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