As I’ve preached through Mark’s account of the Gospel on Sunday evenings I have been greatly helped and blessed by G. Campbell Morgan’s commentary on Mark.
When I reached chapter 5:21-43 I noticed a different tone in Morgan’s writing. It slowly dawned on my that he could relate to the suffering of Jairus as he too had endured the loss of his little daughter.
I want to share some of the comments Morgan makes on this passage. This is a lengthy post, even though I have skipped some of his commentary, but please take the time to read to the end:
“…it is supremely a revelation of the sensitiveness of the Servant of God to human sorrow; and of His ready, almost eager response thereto.
“In proportion as we have trodden the sorrowful way, and ourselves have known anything of pain, we read these stories intelligently, and are carried immediately over the intervening millenniums, to Jairus and to the woman; for their successors are with us yet.
“We will try to imagine Jairus and the mother of the maid. The mother did not travel with Jairus, to persuade Jesus to come. She stayed where mothers do, by the side of the child in her illness. She is only mentioned in the story once, and would not have been mentioned then perchance, except for the understandingness of Jesus; for when He came to the house, He took into that inner chamber Jairus and the mother. Thus then they are first presented to us; Jairus in the presence of Jesus, the mother at home by the side of the damsel.
“How many can really see these people? How many know the parental love that is here revealed? It is strange, mystic, different from all other loves, having qualities that are all its own, so fine, so subtle, so delicate, that any words by which we try to describe it seem coarse, hard, and inadequate.
“Jairus employed a phrase which had at is very heart a sense of proprietorship: my little daughter! Ah! we may love all children, all the bairns may seem to us the special messengers of God to mortals; but there is a difference. Parental love has within itself an almost terrifying, and yet most exquisitely tender sense of responsibility.
“If a man shall say to me, ‘It is your duty to do thus or so’, I shall challenge him for his reason; and if he shall reply, ‘For your own sake’, I may answer, ‘Stand out of my sunlight and do not interfere with me!’ But if he shall say, ‘For the sake of that boy in your home’, he has conquered me, he has mastered me! Oh! that strange agony in the love of parent for child, that makes the parent ever tremble!
“Then the sorrow is revealed in the one graphic sentence: ‘My little daughter lieth at the point of death.’ The cloud is over the home! Silence is within the home! Nothing need be added! Jairus stands forever more as a type.
Morgan then points out the dramatic flow of this story. Jesus and the disciples get off the ship from their latest journey and the crowds immediately throng them. Then, when a ruler of a synagogue, Jairus, falls at Jesus’ feet weeping and pleading for help for his little daughter, the crowds only intensify.
So the father leads Jesus towards his home and the crowds follow. The text describes the crowds crushing around Jesus and multiple individuals no doubt making physical contact with Jesus.
Then comes what Jairus could only have seen as an interruption. One woman touches the clothes of Jesus and in faith expects to be healed. She receives healing and a conversation with Jesus follows. At the end of this conversation Jesus tells the woman, ‘Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.’ That short phrase is full of deep, compassionate truth, but I’ll save that for another time. As the words are spoken someone from the household of Jairus arrives and breaks the news that his daughter has died.
I’ll continue with Morgan’s commentary here:
“In a few moments there came the last blow on the father’s heart, ‘Thy daughter is dead! Why troublest thou the Teacher any further?’ It was necessary that Mark should write this, “But Jesus, not heeding the word spoken, saith unto the ruler of the synagogue’. Let us, however, dare to be dramatic and leaving out the explanation, see what happened. Christ had just said to this woman, ‘Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.’ Then the messengers came: ‘Thy daughter is dead. Why troublest thou the Teacher any further?’ Then said Jesus, ‘Fear not, only believe.’
“Thus the voice of uttermost desolation was immediately followed by the voice of the uttermost consolation. Yes, but how could Jairus believe the thing that was said? There was the woman; something strange had happened to her. She declared she had been made whole by a touch, and He had said, ‘Go into peace.’ There was a method and a purpose in the halting of Jesus. There is always a meaning in His delay. Out of the delay will come help, out of the darkness will come light. It is always so with this Christ of ours.
“Then there flashes out in the story a touch of dignity and authority. When they laughed Him to scorn, He put them all out, and taking with Him only Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother, He came in and took her by the hand; and dropping into Aramaic (for I believe He spoke in Greek, and the very reason why the Aramaic is retained for us here is to show that He adopted the language of the inner home circle, those diminutives which are the very essence of love); He said, ‘Talitha cumi’. Damsel arise, is a harsh translation. The real meaning of the word is, ‘Little lamb, arise’. He took her by the hand, and said, ‘Little lamb, arise.’
“Then He gave her back to her father and mother. Poor little lamb! He gave her back to tears, He gave her back to pain, He gave her back to sorrow. Not out of compassion for her did He bring her back, but out of compassion for the parents.
“So after all, my little lamb, that He took, was better off than she was, though I have been left lonely through many years. It was the father’s heart that appealed to Him. He gave him back his child. It was the mother’s heart that moved Him, and He gave her back the little one. Oh! it was all right with the little one also, undoubtedly so, in the long issues, but He brought her back to sorrow.
“What are the permanent values of these stories? In this particular unveiling of Jesus we have a revelation of His extreme sensitiveness. Oh, the ugliness of human words when we try to talk about Christ! I want some new language.
Sensitiveness is indeed a beautiful word, and yet it is not rich enough to express the thought. In Him sensitiveness was was responsiveness, quick, immediate, full, generous, magnificent.
Then again we have here a wonderful revelation of the understanding of Jesus. I think that is one of the most wonderful qualities in human love and friendship. Understandingness! That is why He tarried so long to talk to the woman and help her.
“Yes, but you say, my child died, and I lost her! Yes, but, you say, I am not cured. I am still suffering! How shall I reply to that kind of statement? Reverently I say in answer; even though our children went, and He did not let us have them; even though we were not cured, and long, long suffering runs on, there is something to be sure of. Seeing that we have had that unveiling of Him; we know His heart and therefore are sure of His sympathy.
“There is another thing to remember. Many children are raised up even yet. Do not put these stories back two millenniums. That one lassie God took out of my home I did so want to keep; but she went. But I have other bairns in the home who have seemed to be as near the end as she. I asked for them, and they are with me yet. He still touches the little hands, and raises up the children. He still heals, and He has cured many a soul of bodily infirmity.
“Therefore we know that those who are not raised up or cured, are still in His love. Therefore that which happens to them is best for them, and must be best for us. He did not let me have my lassie. He took her. Then that was best. I do not quite see how, for me, and yet I am sure it was so. If He Who can, does not, then it is better so.!
“He can raise up that child you have left at home sick. But perhaps over against the ability of the actual power there is the disability of some larger meaning of His grace for you and for that child. So we thank God for these pictures.”