The disciples wondered at His question: they knew not that |the flesh presses but faith touches;| but as He continued to look around and seek her that had done this thing, she fell down and told him all the truth. Fearing and trembling she spoke, for indeed she had been presumptuous, and ventured without permission. But the chief thing was that she had ventured, and so He graciously replied, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole, go in peace and be whole of thy plague. Thus she received more than she had asked or thought; not only healing for the body, but also a victory over that self-effacing, fearful, half morbid diffidence, which long and weakening disease entails. Thus also, instead of a secret cure, she was given the open benediction of her Lord, and such confirmation in her privilege as many more would enjoy if only with their mouth confession were made unto salvation.
While He yet spoke, and the heart of Jairus was divided between joy at a new evidence of the power of Christ, and impatience at every moment of delay, not knowing that his Benefactor was the Lord of time itself, the fatal message came, tinged with some little irony as it asked, Why troublest thou the Teacher any more? It is quite certain that Jesus had before now raised the dead, but no miracle of the kind had acquired such prominence as afterwards to claim a place in the Gospel narratives.
One is led to suspect that the care of Jesus had prevailed, and they had not been widely published. To those who brought this message, perhaps no such case had traveled, certainly none had gained their credence. It was in their eyes a thing incredible that He should raise the dead, and indeed there is a wide difference between every other miracle and this. We struggle against all else, but when death comes we feel that all is over except to bury out of our sight what once was beautiful and dear. Death is destiny made visible; it is the irrevocable. Who shall unsay the words of a bleeding heart, I shall go to him but he shall not return to me? But Christ came to destroy him that had the power of death. Even now, through Him, we are partakers of a more intense and deeper life, and have not only the hope but the beginning of immortality. And it was the natural seal upon His lofty mission, that He should publicly raise up the dead. For so great a task, shall we say that Jesus now gathers all His energies? That would be woefully to misread the story; for a grand simplicity, the easy bearing of unstrained and amply adequate resources, is common to all the narratives of life brought back. We shall hereafter see good reason why Jesus employed means for other miracles, and even advanced by stages in the work. But lest we should suppose that effort was necessary, and His power but just sufficed to overcome the resistance, none of these supreme miracles is wrought with the slightest effort. Prophets and apostles may need to stretch themselves upon the bed or to embrace the corpse; Jesus, in His own noble phrase, awakes it out of sleep. A wonderful ease and quietness pervade the narratives, expressing exactly the serene bearing of the Lord of the dead and of the living. There is no holding back, no toying with the sorrow of the bereaved, such as even Euripides, the tenderest of the Greeks, ascribed to the demigod who tore from the grip of death the heroic wife of Admetus. Hercules plays with the husband's sorrow, suggests the consolation of a new bridal, and extorts the angry cry, |Silence, what have you said? I would not have believed it of you.| But what is natural to a hero, flushed with victory and the sense of patronage, would have ill become the absolute self-possession and gentle grace of Jesus. In every case, therefore, He is full of encouragement and sympathy, even before His work is wrought. To the widow of Nain He says, |Weep not.| He tells the sister of Lazarus, |If thou wilt believe, thou shalt see the salvation of God.| And when these disastrous tidings shake all the faith of Jairus, Jesus loses not a moment in reassuring him: |Fear not, only believe,| He says, not heeding the word spoken; that is to say, Himself unagitated and serene. [Unless indeed the meaning be rather, |over hearing the word,| which is not its force in the New Testament (Matt.18:17, twice).
In every case some co-operation was expected from the bystanders. The bearers of the widow's son halted, expectant, when this majestic and tender Wayfarer touched the bier. The friends of Lazarus rolled away the stone from the sepulchre. But the professional mourners in the house of Jairus were callous and insensible, and when He interrupted their clamorous wailing, with the question, Why make ye tumult and weep? they laughed Him to scorn; a fit expression of the world's purblind incredulity, its reliance upon ordinary |experience| to disprove all possibilities of the extraordinary and Divine, and its heartless transition from conventional sorrow to ghastly laughter, mocking in the presence of death -- which is, in its view, so desparate -- the last hope of humanity. Laughter is not the fitting mood in which to contradict the Christian hope, that our lost ones are not dead, but sleep. The new and strange hope for humanity which Jesus thus asserted, He went on to prove, but not for them. Exerting that moral ascendency, which sufficed Him twice to cleanse the Temple, He put them all forth, as already He had shut out the crowd, and all His disciples but |the elect of His election,| the three who now first obtain a special privilege. The scene was one of surpassing solemnity and awe; but not more so than that of Nain, or by the tomb of Lazarus. Why then were not only the idly curious and the scornful, but nine of His chosen ones excluded? Surely we may believe, for the sake of the little girl, whose tender grace of unconscious maidenhood should not, in its hour of reawakened vitality, be the centre of a gazing circle. He kept with Him the deeply reverential and the loving, the ripest apostles and the parents of the child, since love and reverence are ever the conditions of real insight. And then, first, was exhibited the gentle and profound regard of Christ for children. He did not arouse her, as others, with a call only, but took her by the hand, while He spoke to her those Aramaic words, so marvelous in their effect, which St. Peter did not fail to repeat to St. Mark as he had heard them, Talitha cumi; Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise. They have an added sweetness when we reflect that the former word, though applied to a very young child, is in its root a variation of the word for a little lamb. How exquisite from the lips of the Good Shepherd, Who gave His life for the sheep. How strange to be thus awakened from the mysterious sleep, and to gaze with a child's fresh eyes into the loving eyes of Jesus. Let us seek to realize such positions, to comprehend the marvelous heart which they reveal to us, and we shall derive more love and trust from the effort than from all such doctrinal inference and allegorizing as would dry up, into a hortus siccus, the sweetest blooms of the sweetest story ever told.
So shall we understand what happened next in all three cases. Something preternatural and therefore dreadful, appeared to hang about the lives so wondrously restored. The widow of Nain did not dare to embrace her son until Christ |gave him to his mother.| The bystanders did not touch Lazarus, bound hand and foot, until Jesus bade them |loose him and let him go.| And the five who stood about this child's bed, amazed straightway with a great amazement, had to be reminded that being now in perfect health, after an illness which left her system wholly unsupplied, something should be given her to eat. This is the point at which Euripides could find nothing fitter for Hercules to utter than the awkward boast, |Thou wilt some day say that the son of Jove was a capital guest to entertain.| What a contrast. For Jesus was utterly unflushed, undazzled, apparently unconscious of anything to disturb His composure. And so far was He from the unhappy modern notion, that every act of grace must be proclaimed on the housetop, and every recipient of grace however young, however unmatured, paraded and exhibited, that He charged them much that no man should know this.
The story throughout is graphic and full of character; every touch, every word reveals the Divine Man; and only reluctance to believe a miracle prevents it from proving itself to every candid mind. Whether it be accepted or rejected, it is itself miraculous. It could not have grown up in the soil which generated the early myths and legends, by the working of the ordinary laws of mind. It is beyond their power to invent or to dream, supernatural in the strictest sense.
This miracle completes the cycle. Nature, distracted by the Fall, has revolted against Him in vain. Satan, entrenched in his last stronghold, has resisted, and humbled himself to entreaties and to desparate contrivances, in vain. Secret and unspoken woes, and silent germs of belief, have hidden from Him in vain. Death itself has closed its bony fingers upon its prey, in vain. Nothing can resist the power and love, which are enlisted on behalf of all who put their trust in Jesus.