Skip to content Skip to footer

The Discipline of Focusing on Life

Mark 5:38-43 NRSV

38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 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. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Today, we will only be reading a portion of the lectionary passage. The entire lectionary passage begins at verse 21 and features the story of a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years. It creates a striking parallel; the girl in this story we read today is 12. That means, for as long as Jairus’ daughter has been alive, this other woman has been struggling with her personal health and the societal challenges that accompany it. In your own devotional period, read the chapter in its entirety. Are there struggles that feel lifelong or eternal to you?

Today’s lesson will focus on the discipline of focusing on life. Read the scripture out loud together.

What is happening during this passage?
After an adventure healing a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, Jesus is running to the house of Jairus. He was a religious leader. Outside his house, there was a cacophony of people. Jesus did not understand upon entering. He asked, “why do you cry? The child is not dead but asleep.” This confused the community. So, he put everyone outside and only invited the parents and a few disciples to come inside. He grabbed her hand and said, “Little girl, get up,” and she immediately got up. As an order, he instructed them not to tell anyone about this happening and to get her something to eat.

Why put other people out of the room?
Jesus was intentional about who he invited into the room of healing. As he arrived at the house, there were more people who did not understand why Jairus was “troubling the teacher. A lot of people in the neighborhood had come to weep and mourn Jairus’ unnamed daughter. Perhaps they had come with their candles and spices to anoint the body. The people outside were already sure that she was dead and came to pay their respects. But Jesus was not convinced yet.

Jesus put everyone out of the room. The only people inside were the child’s mother and father and “those who were with him.” We can assume that these “those” would include “Peter, James and John.” This is important because later in Acts, it is Peter who performs nearly the same healing with Dorcas. Remembering the teachings of Jesus, Peter “put all of them outside, and knelt down and prayed.” He turned to the body and said “Tabitha, get up.” This pattern of putting people out of the room as healing is taking place, or perhaps later telling people “not to tell anyone about this,” is a clue. Perhaps it may be that sometimes we need privacy as we deal with very sacred matters. We can discern when, what, how, in what medium and why we share our intimate stories. We get to have that agency.

How exactly did this miracle happen?
Was the girl ever dead? We do not know. Jairus himself says, “she is at the very point of death.” Even upon arriving at the house Jesus doubts that she is dead. He insists that she is sleeping. So, did he raise her, or was she never dead in the first place? We do not know. We have no physician’s report, but we do know this: Whatever happened that day impacted the entire community. The group that stood outside wailing and weeping began to be “overcome with amazement.” Likely, the neighborhood would have talked about how “marvelous” and “unbelievable” all of this was. Still, Jesus orders them “not to say anything,” How did he think such a story would remain under wraps?

What questions do you still have of this scripture? How will you commit to journeying with this text this week?

Connection to Today’s World
21-year-old Sha’Carri Richardson won the women’s 100m at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials. Her timing was impressive at 10.86 seconds and solidified her place as an Olympian in Tokyo. Sha’Carri credits her family as her foundation. Upon finishing the race, she ran up the stadium to embrace her grandmother and family. With long elaborate nails (which put us all in the mind of Flo-Jo!) and bright hair, Sha’Carri refuses to be forgotten or played with. In her own words, “I am that girl!”

Predictably, some people have taken to demeaning her style. There have been commentators who have said she “looks too masculine” and others who are not a fan of her nails or hair. She even spoke about the doubts that many people had about her while she was training. But in her own words, Sha’Carri is “that girl.” She has traversed a great deal to get to where she is! May her witness be a reminder that we need to support all young people as they pursue their dreams. Had she listened to the doubters, she would not be where she is today.

Journal: Where can you look out for unexpected life this week? What do you often take for granted that can be appreciated?

Closing: Listen to “Order My Steps,” sung by Alfred Street Baptist Church

Order my steps in Your word dear Lord!
Lead me, guide me everyday!
Send Your anointing, Father I pray
Order my steps in Your word!
Please, order my steps in Your word.

Humbly, I ask Thee to teach me Your will
While You are working, help me be still.
Though Satan is busy, God is real.
Order my steps in Your word.
Please, order my steps in Your word.


Dear God,
You are the Creator of all things that exist in this world. You have created enough for us to survive and thrive. You delight in our delight.

We are surrounded by grief and pain. Some of this we cannot escape, but other parts are avoidable. Help us to discern how much to hold on and when to let go.

We thank you for the gift of restoration. May our stories be worthwhile and instructive to people. May we bring glory to your name as we seek freedom and wholeness.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.