At Zarephath, when Elijah prayed, God miraculously revived the widow’s dead son (1 Kings 17:17-24). A few years later, when Elisha prayed, God raised the Shunammite’s dead son (2 Kings 4:18-27).
In the Book of Acts, Peter prayed for Tabitha and life returned to her dead body (Acts 9:36-43) and God used Paul’s embrace to raise Eutychus after he fell to his death (Acts 20:7-12).
The Gospels record the stories of three who had died yet were given life again. The most famous is the story of Lazarus. Dead and entombed for four days, when Jesus called to him, he came to the entrance of the tomb still wrapped in grave cloth (John 11:1-44). On another occasion, as Jesus arrived at the village of Nain, a funeral procession was exiting, moving slowly toward the graveyard. Beside the open casket was a grieving mother, a widow, alone. Compassionately, Jesus raised the woman’s son to life (Luke 7:11-17).
That’s six. The seventh and final (other than the resurrection of Jesus), is the story of the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus. This account is recorded in Matthew 9:18-25, Mark 5:21-42, and Luke 8:41-56.
Jairus was “one of the synagogue leaders” (Mark 5:22), “a ruler of the synagogue” (Luke 8:41, ESV). We know nothing of Jairus outside of this encounter. It is likely that he was among the many religious leaders who were antagonistic toward the Lord. The religious establishment was jealous of the attention that Jesus had garnered and fearful that all the hubbub about this Rabbi would leave them with reduced popularity, prestige, and power.
Here, Jairus wasn’t thinking about himself. He was only concerned about his precious daughter. She was dying and there was little hope of recovery. But then he remembered what he had heard about Jesus of Nazareth, the travelling teacher with power over every form of illness and ailment. Broken and humble, Jairus came to Jesus. “When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and begged him earnestly, ‘My little daughter is dying. Come and lay your hands on her so that she can get well and live’ ” (Mark 5:22-23).
Jesus could have rebuffed him, refused his request, rejected him and his hypocrisy. He didn’t. Rather, He compassionately said, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe” (Mark 5:36).
Before they arrived, the child was dead, and a gaggle of hysterical mourners had gathered, “weeping and wailing loudly” (Mark 5:38). The Author of Life “took the child’s father, mother, and those who were with him, and entered the place where the child was. Then he took the child by the hand and said to her ... ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up’. Immediately the girl got up and began to walk. (She was twelve years old.) At this they were utterly astounded” (Mark 5:40-42).
Listen to the Lord’s words again. This time, hear them directed to you. “Don’t be afraid. Only believe”
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.