Summary: Jairus’ daughter
This account from the synoptics of the raising of the twelve year old daughter of Jairus, teaches us lessons on the compassion, the wisdom and the power of our Lord.
Among commentators there are differing opinions concerning the actual physical state of the girl previous to her visit from Jesus. Was she dead? Was she in a coma? Was she deathly ill and in such a weakened condition that she, pale, emaciated and still, appeared dead to the onlooker?
It is unknown to us where Luke the physician got his information for the documentation of this account. He may have talked to Peter, James or John, or the parents, or even the girl herself, who, by the time of his writing would have been an adult. We only know for sure that the Gospel of Luke, as all other scripture, is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
With that in mind, we must take note that although the other writers did not use this phrase, Luke explicitly stated that "...her spirit returned and she rose immediately".
That is enough for me, to accept that the girl was indeed dead, at least in human terms. But the debate continues, which raises questions in the minds of Bible students. So let’s break the incident down with this question in mind, and talk about the information that IS available to us, never losing our focus on the central figure in this event and all others; the Creator of all, Christ Jesus.
Jairus has approached Jesus and begged Him to come to his house to heal his daughter, who is dying.
Now, much can and has been said concerning this account, about the faith of a leading Jew; an official of the synagogue in Capernaum, and the testing of his faith when Jesus’ journey to his house is interrupted by the woman with the issue of blood (Matt.8:43-48).
There are other facets of this account that could be addressed, but we’ll by-pass those for the sake of our focus.
Jesus has blessed the woman mentioned above, and declared that her faith has made her well. It is not presumptuous to assume that He would immediately have resumed his journey to Jairus’ house, but we’re told that while He was yet speaking to the woman someone came from the house of Jairus with the dark tidings that the girl had died.
When Jesus tells those at the house that the girl is only sleeping they begin laughing "...knowing that she had died".
We see much the same kind of misunderstanding of Jesus in John 11, when Jesus tells His desciples that Lazarus is asleep and in response they question the need to go to him at all.
There is a slight difference in the Greek root words for the translation of ’asleep’ in the two accounts. But since there is intrinsic evidence in both places that Jesus said ’asleep’ and in both cases the hearers misunderstood, there is really no use in going into those hair-splitting differences.
Let me just draw the reader’s attention to the spiritual application. The man without Christ is referred to as both, ASLEEP and DEAD, although there is ultimately no difference between the two. He is separated from God by sin and destined for eternal death apart from Christ. Whether considered ’asleep’ or ’dead’ (Eph. 5:14)however, the One who wakes, the life-giver, is the same One who gladly and compassionately set foot for the house of the synagogue official on that day.
Here is another thing to consider. The father, Jairus, who is also a leading Jew and an official of the synagogue, has put his faith in this Nazarene. We do not know if this is a faith born of desperation, or prior conviction of Jesus’ Messiahship, based on what he had heard. Let’s indulge in just a little speculation here.
Jairus’ daughter may have been a believer through faith, as a result of things she had seen and heard of Jesus in the Capernaum area on previous occasions. In fact, for all we know, Jairus may have sought Jesus out in a time of desperate need, because of things he had heard his own daughter say about the preacher/miracle worker. We just cannot know the details until we see these people in eternity.
My point in speculating about the possible circumstances though, is that if she was a beliver, as we can be sure Lazarus was a believer, then Jesus’ reference to her condition as ’sleep’ may very well be based upon the truth that those who believe on Him, though they die, yet shall live (John 11:25,26). The New Testament writers also made other references to believers falling ’asleep’. For example, Luke says so of Stephen in Acts 7, and Paul says this about Corinthian believers in his first letter.