And the fame hereof went abroad - In this business Jesus himself scarcely appears, but the work effected by his sovereign power is fully manifested; to teach us that it is the business of a successful preacher of the Gospel to conceal himself as much as possible, that God alone may have the glory of his own grace. This is a proper miracle, and a full exemplification of the unlimited power of Christ.
The account contained in these verses is also recorded, with some additional circumstances, in Matthew 9:18
There came a certain ruler - Mark and Luke say that his name was Jairus, and that he was a “ruler of the synagogue;” that is, one of the elders to whom was committed the care of the synagogue.
See the notes at Matthew 4:23.
And worshipped him - That is, fell down before him, or expressed his respect for him by a token of profound regard. See the notes at Matthew 2:2.
My daughter is even now dead - Luke says that this was his only daughter, and that she was twelve years of age. Mark and Luke say that she was “at the point of death,” and that information of her actual death was brought to him by one who was sent by the ruler of the synagogue, while Jesus was going. Matthew combined the two facts, and stated the representation which was made to Jesus, without stopping particularly to exhibit the manner in which it was done. In a summary way he says that the ruler communicated the information. Luke and Mark, dwelling more particularly on the circumstances, state at length the way in which it was done; that is, by himself stating, in a hurry, that she was “about to die,” or “was dying,” and then in a few moments sending word that “she was dead.” The Greek word, rendered “is even now dead,” does not of necessity mean, as our translation would express, that she had actually expired, but only that she was “dying” or about to die. Compare Genesis 48:21. It is likely that a father, in these circumstances, would use a word as nearly expressing actual death as would be consistent with the fact that she was alive. The passage may be expressed thus: “My daughter was so sick that she must be by this time dead.”
Come and lay thy hand upon her - It was customary for the Jewish prophets, in conferring favors, to lay their hand on the person benefited. Jesus had probably done so also, and the ruler had probably witnessed the fact.
And, behold, a woman - This disease was by the Jews reckoned unclean Leviticus 15:25, and the woman was therefore unwilling to make personal application to Jesus, or even to touch his person. The disease was regarded as incurable. She had expended all her property, and grew worse, Mark 5:26.
Touched the hem of his garment - This garment was probably the square garment which was thrown over the shoulders. See notes at Matthew 5:40. This was surrounded by a border or “fringe;” and this “fringe,” or the loose threads hanging down, is what is meant by the “hem.” The Jews were commanded to wear this, in order to distinguish them from other nations. See Numbers 15:38-39; Deuteronomy 22:12.
Mark says that “the woman, fearing and trembling,” came and told him all the truth. Perhaps she feared that, from the impure nature of her disease, he would be offended that she touched him.
But Jesus tutored him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort - Jesus silenced her fears, commended her faith, and sent her away in peace.
He used an endearing appellation, calling her “daughter,” a word of tenderness and affection, and dismissed her who had been twelve long and tedious years labouring under a weakening and offensive disease, now in an instant made whole. Her faith, her strong confidence in Jesus, had been the means of her restoration. It was the “power” of Jesus that cured her; but that power would not have been exerted but in connection with faith. So in the salvation of a sinner. No one is saved who does not believe; but faith is the instrument, and not the power, that saves.
And widen Jesus came into the ruler‘s house - Jesus permitted only three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and the father and mother of the damsel, to go in with him where the corpse lay, Mark 5:37-40
It was important that there should be “witnesses” of the miracle, and he chose a sufficient number. “Five” witnesses were enough to establish the fact. The witnesses were impartial. The fact that she was dead was established beyond a doubt. Of this the mourners, the parents, the messengers, the people, were satisfied. If she was presented to the people “alive,” the proof of the miracle was complete. The presence of more than the “five” witnesses would have made the scene tumultuous, and have been less satisfactory evidence of the fact of the restoration of the child. Five sober witnesses are always better than the confused voices of a rabble. These were the same disciples that were with him on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark 9:2; Mark 14:33; 2 Peter 1:17-18.
And saw the minstrels and the people making a noise - Minstrels” are persons who play on instruments of music. The people of the East used to bewail the dead by cutting the flesh, tearing the hair, and crying bitterly. See Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 16:6-7; Ezekiel 24:17. The expressions of grief at the death of a friend, in Eastern countries, are extreme. As soon as a person dies, all the females in the family set up a loud and doleful cry. They continue it as long as they can without taking breath, and the shriek of wailing dies away in a low sob. Nor do the relatives satisfy themselves with these expressions of violent grief. They hire persons of both sexes, whose employment it is to mourn for the dead in the like frantic manner. See Amos 5:16; Jeremiah 9:20. They sing the virtues of the deceased, recount his acts, dwell on his beauty, strength, or learning; on the comforts of his family and home, and in doleful strains ask him why he left his family and friends.
To all this they add soft and melancholy music. They employ “minstrels” to aid their grief, and to increase the expressions of their sorrow. This violent grief continues, commonly, eight days. In the case of a king, or other very distinguished personage, it is prolonged through an entire month. This grief does not cease at the house; it is exhibited in the procession to the grave, and the air is split with the wailings of real and of hired mourners. Professor Hackett (“Illustrations of Scripture,” pp. 121,122) says: “During my stay at Jerusalem I frequently heard a singular cry issuing from the houses in the neighborhood of the place where I lodged, or from those on the streets through which I passed. It was to be heard at all hours - in the morning, at noonday, at evening, or in the deep silence of night. For some time I was at a loss to understand the cause of this strange interruption of the stillness which, for the most part, hangs so oppressively over the lonely city. Had it not been so irregular in its occurrence, I might have supposed it to indicate some festive occasion; for the tones of voice (yet hardly tones so much as shrieks) used for the expression of different feelings sound so much alike to the unpracticed ear, that it is not easy always to distinguish the mournful and the joyous from each other.
I ascertained, at length, that this special cry was, no doubt, in most instances, the signal of the death of some person in the house from which it was heard. It is customary, when a member of the family is about to die, for the friends to assemble around him and watch the ebbing away of life, so as to remark the precise moment when he breathes his last, upon which they set up instantly a united outcry, attended with weeping, and often with beating upon the breast, and tearing out the hair of the head. This lamentation they repeat at other times, especially at the funeral, both during the procession to the grave and after the arrival there, as they commit the remains to their last resting-place.”
The Jews were forbidden to tear their hair and cut their flesh. See Leviticus 19:28; Deuteronomy 14:1. They showed their grief by howling, by music, by concealing the chin with their garment, by rending the outer garment, by refusing to wash or anoint themselves, or to converse with people, by scattering ashes or dust in the air, or by lying down in them, Job 1:20; Job 2:12; 2 Samuel 1:2-4; 2 Samuel 14:2; 2 Samuel 15:30; Mark 14:63. The expressions of grief, therefore, mentioned on this occasion, though excessive and foolish, were yet strictly in accordance with Eastern customs.
The maid is not dead, but sleepeth - It cannot be supposed that our Lord means “literally” to say that the child was not dead.
Every possible evidence of her death had been given, and he acted on that himself, and conveyed to the people the idea that he raised her “from the dead.” He meant to speak in opposition to their opinions. It is not unlikely that Jairus and the people favored the opinions of the Sadducees, and that “they” understood by her being dead that she had “ceased to be,” and that she would never be raised up again. In opposition to this, the Saviour used the expression “she sleepeth;” affirming mildly both that the “body” was dead, and “implying” that “her spirit” still lived, and that she would be raised up again. A similar mode of speaking occurs in John 11:11 “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” The sacred writers often spoke of the pious dead as “sleeping,” 2 Peter 3:4; Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 1 Corinthians 15:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15. The meaning of this passage, then, is, the maid has not ceased to “exist;” but, though her body is dead, yet her spirit lives, and she sleeps in the hope of the resurrection.
Laughed him to scorn - Derided him; ridiculed him.
He went in - With the father, and mother, and three disciples, Mark 5:37-40.
The maid arose - She returned to life.
There could be no deception here. “Parents” could not be imposed on in such a case, nor could such a multitude be deceived. The power of Jesus was undoubtedly shown to be sufficient to raise the dead.
Returning from Gergesa to the western shore, Jesus found a multitude gathered to receive Him, and they greeted Him with joy. He remained by the seaside for a time, teaching and healing, and then repaired to the house of Levi-Matthew to meet the publicans at the feast. Here Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, found Him. DA 342.1Read in context »
Christ, Creator and Life-giver
[This article appeared in The Youth's Instructor, August 11, 1898, under the title “The Risen Saviour—Part 2.”]Read in context »