Jesus Proves His Authority Over Death

Author: Pastor Noah Toney


Jesus Proves His Power Over Death


And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, '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.' And he went with him.” Mark 5:21-24  


     Thus far in Mark’s gospel, Jesus has exercised authority over (1) creation, (2) unclean spirits, and (3) sickness. In Mark 5, Jesus exercises a power that the world has never known. Jesus exercises authority over death. Our story picks up with Jesus returning to Capurium. As soon as he lands, he is greeted by the local leader of the synagogue, Jairus. Certainly, in this small town of 1500, Jairus was a well-known leader. As ruler of the synagogue, his responsibilities were deeply tied to the town’s religious life. When they had needs, he was the one who was called. But when Jairus’ daughter falls ill, he comes to a crisis of faith. Aware of the severity of his daughter's sickness, he panics. This self-made leader of the town looks far and wide for someone who can help his daughter. Indeed after exhausting all of his options and available medical treatments in his day, he becomes aware that his daughter's life is fleeting. This awareness drives Jairus into panic and despair. Hearing that Jesus has arrived in town, Jairus immediately goes and falls before the Lord’s feet. Out of desperation and humility, Jairus implores Jesus to come and heal his daughter, for she is at the point of death. We know that his daughter was very sick because the Greek word for “point of death,” is eschatos, as in Eschatology or last things. Jesus, hearing this man’s desperate plea, agrees to go to his daughter. 


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 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.” Mark 5:35-40


      As Jesus nears Jairus’ house, he is met by a man who reports to Jairus that this effort is vain. His daughter is dead. No doubt this was Jairus’ darkest hour, and yet the Lord was with him. Not only did Jesus continue to walk with him, but Jesus responded with mercy and hope. “Do not fear, only belive.” These are precious words. These are words of power. No matter how deep we despair or how dark the night around us is. If you are walking with Jesus, he whispers to us, “do not fear, only believe.” 


      As Jesus draws near to the home of Jairus, he is met with a loud commotion. These were professional wailers. It was a  common custom in Jesus’ day to hire professional mourners who would come and play dirges and cover themselves with sackcloth and ashes. This was to communicate to the immediate community that this family was in a time of mourning. Jesus meets these mourners and tells them, “the child is not dead, but sleeping.” Immediately these mourners stop mourning the loss of a child and start mocking the claims of the Messiah. This is common in our world. Christians make truth claims about Jesus, and we are greeted with mocking and laughter, but we know something that the world does not. We know the power and authenticity of our King. The Jesus we worship is the only one with authority over sin and death; he is the only one who can raise the dead at the sound of his voice. One day all who worship Jesus and all who don’t will rise and recognize the Lordship of our King. May we, as Christians, handle the claims of Jesus with great seriousness and reverence. Christ is who He claims to be.


But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those 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. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.” Mark 5:40-43


     Jesus grabs this little girl by the hand, and at the soft command of his voice, she rises from the dead. And immediately, the girl got up and began walking. It was not as if she was dead and was just revived; no, she was dead one moment, and at the next, she was up and walking with full force and vigor. When I had COVID, it took me weeks to regain my strength and go about as normal. But when Jesus healed this girl, she was up and walking immediately. That is the power of our Lord Jesus. This girl was dead, and then she was alive. We know that this really was a resurrection from the dead. Look at the end of verse 42. “and they were immediately overcome with amazement.”

English misses this translation. In all honesty, all of the English translations fail here. KJV says astonished, NASB says astonished, NIV amazement, and ESV says overcome.  But we have seen this word before in chapter 3 of Mark. When Jesus starts his ministry, his family comes and seizes him, saying, “he is out of his mind.” The word is existencimi. It is similar to where we get existential. In other words, this family was out of their minds when they saw their daughter alive and healthy. I can’t blame them. With their own eyes, they saw their daughter dead, but then a moment later, they see her walking upright. This is a miracle. And the story ends with Jesus charging them not to tell anyone and to give the girl something to eat. 


     Do you see the power of Jesus? This is the first time that Jesus has exercised his authority over the dead. Who is this man that even corpses obey him? In the same way, through his Spirit, God works the miracle of resurrection in all of our lives when we are born again. When we repent and believe in Jesus, we are resurrected into the newness of life.