Sunday, March 9, 2014

Talitha Cumi

"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[e] 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." Mark 5:35-42 

Talitha cumi. Little girl, arise. We went over the corresponding passage in Luke today in church, and the pastor jumped over to Mark just for these two words. Talitha cumi. Rather than the Greek which Jesus likely often taught in, he changes to Aramaic when speaking to this small Jewish child.

Pastor Scott suggested that these were likely the words which her parents would have used to wake her each morning. I have no idea how true that is, but it seems right. Scott talked about how these were the words that had woken her from sleep since she was born, but how they took on a new meaning and power when spoken by Christ.

And as he spoke, a scene came together in my mind.

Jairus, a devout Jew, a ruler of the synagogue, is off on a mission of last resort, to bring the rising-but controversial rabbi Jesus to his home. His wife stays behind, at the bedside of her dying daughter. And as her daughter slips further and further into the sickness, the mother whispers, "Talitha cumi." Little girl, arise! Wake up! Please, please wake up...

Where is Jairus? Where is the rabbi? The sickness grows worse, and again she whispers, "Talitha cumi." But her girl lies still, un-moving and un-hearing.

She waits, but there is no word of her husband. Perhaps Jairus could not find the rabbi. Perhaps the rabbi refused to come. And then she realizes that her daughter, her only daughter, is no longer breathing, and she begs, choking through the tears, "Talitha cumi!" And her daughter lies there, as though sleeping, but not, and there are no words that will wake her.

The Bible is full of pieces of stories, of which we often only hear one part, one moment in time, when Jesus breaks into the story to make it right. But in order to fully appreciate that moment, I think we often need to step back and look at the rest of the story. This was not an object lesson or a Sunday-morning sermon to Jairus or his wife: This was the moment that their little girl came back from the dead. Something worth remembering, I think.

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