When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
My name is Peter. It used to be Simon until Jesus told me I was as solid as rock, and sometimes twice as thick. He changed it to Peter. He also changed my life. Mark and Luke wrote some of my stories down. One day stands out above the rest – totally frenetic: a madman cured and stampeding pigs on one side of the lake; a bleeding woman and a dying girl on the other. The girl was special; her father Jairus was a big noise in the Synagogue, and the mourners were hysterical. Jesus’ calm the mourners out, I remember the words He used: ”Talitha koum” – arise little girl“ A couple of years later, after His ascension. I was in Joppa, mourning the passing of a lady apostle named Dorcas but in Aramaic it was Tabitha. What should I do? I remembered the house of Jairus, and I knew .“Talitha koum”, became “Tabitha koum”. Dorcas opened her eyes, and sat up, just like the daughter of Jairus. I knew that the healing Christ was present.
I am a different Peter, and I too am an old man, full of the memories to which old men are prone.
I have spent a lifetime wrestling with the Gospel stories.. Some I understand, others still puzzle me. But they all leave me amazed and humbled by their power and promise. I gave up asking “Were those people really dead?” a long time ago. Instead, I remember those words “Talitha koum”. “Get up and live”. The real miracle is that they have power to move and motivate us even now, in our troubled world and divided society. “Get up” and use the life that God has given you to make His son’s dream come true in your own age and circumstance. If it was true for Peter, James, John, Jairus and Dorcas, it has to be true for us.
O Lord, who deemed yourself worthy to wash the feet of Your holy apostles with Your scared hands, cleanse my heart by pouring in the radiance of the Holy Spirit, so that I may be able to love You, our Lord Jesus Christ, in all things, and above all else.George Herbert
Today’s writer The Rev’d Peter Moth, retired minister, St Andrew’s URC, Kenton Newcastle upon Tyne