From today’s reading of Matthew 8:14-34 and Mark 4-5
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But 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. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. – Mark 5:35-43 (ESV)
“. . . they laughed at him. But he put them all outside . . .” may be my favorite line from this narrative. It comes shortly on the heels of Jesus’ tender exhortation to a grieving father: “Do not fear, only believe.” Words to live by. To really live by.
Jesus has no time in this narrative for the pragmatists, the cynics, those who laugh (literally) in the Face of faith, hope and love. He puts them all outside.
The miracle of the raising of this little girl is not for show; indeed, Jesus allows only a very small audience for it and strictly charges them to tell no one afterwards. As with all of Jesus’ signs, there is both a near and far impact. The “near” is, of course, the joy-drenched raising of a beloved daughter, not to mention the effect this would have had on Jesus’ inner circle. Jesus gently called her back from death and she immediately responds to him. There is Jesus’ thoughtful request that she be fed. We are witnesses here to a wonderful and wondrous, gracious gift of life from Jesus to this family.
It prefigures the farther, wider impact of Jesus’ gracious gift of life to us. As the pragmatists thought that the little girl was too far gone, so were we. She was dead, after all. So were we.
No. After all the despair and destruction that the curse of death wreaks on us, there is Jesus to call us back. He calls us when we are dead in our trespasses and sins, enemies of God, pragmatically without hope or a future, with no way to rise to him. In a moment, from dead to immediately – I love Mark’s repeated use of that word throughout his gospel – alive, walking, being fed. This is what Jesus has done for those who are in Christ, for those who have heard his call.