(How might Jairus’ daughter have looked back on her miraculous encounter with Jesus? The story is recorded in the Gospel of St. Mark, chapter 5.)
I have no memory of the events, only the before and the after, as if the actual miracle was a parenthetical, a mere aside to my actual life. Yet it was both the end and the start of my life. That’s not the typical order of things.
I only remember I was sick. That, at least, is still clear in my mind. My father had been ill for several days before, but it never kept him from his duties at the synagogue. He would have allowed himself to fall dead in service to Jehovah before he would slacken in his duties, so godly was he.
He recovered in due time, but I was next to be struck with the fever. Being a frail child, not robust like my father, the sickness sapped all my strength then strove to take my life. If my parents are to be believed – and they have never been anything but truthful with me – it did take my life. I was in bed for three days, my young body heating up like a stone baking in the desert sun.
Doctors came, but their skills are limited when serious illness strikes. The prayers of my parents’ friends were comforting but did nothing to halt the steady and frightening climb of my fever. My mother’s care was as effective as anything. With a simple kiss on my forehead, she could tell that my fever was out of control.
The last I remember was feeling as though my very blood was boiling within me. Then came the dreamless sleep.
The next thing I recall was a gentle but compelling voice speaking to me. An entire sentence preceded it, I’m told, but I only heard the single word: Arise. And I did, with the aid of a firm and gentle hand.
I walked to my mother’s side as if nothing could be more natural. Her astounded face, a mixture of fear and awe, and her tears told me that there was nothing at all natural about it. My body was cool and strong, as healthy as I’d ever felt in my twelve short years of life.
Life went back to normal. I was curious about the furtive glances and whispers that my presence seemed to inspire wherever I went for the next few months, but I never asked about them. What does a child care about the idle gossip of adults?
It was only much later, when the averting eyes and prattling tongues had ceased and I was older and knew more of life and death, that my father told me what I’d been through and how I’d come to be healed. More than healed.
When I was teetering at the edge of eternity, or so he felt, Father’s desperation led him to seek out a traveling Rabbi who some said had the power to heal. Father wasn’t one to be drawn to those who claimed any sort of magical kinship with God. In his time at the synagogue, he’d seen more than his share of such charlatans. To save me, though, he would have done anything short of denying his God.
This man, Jesus, wandered the area around the Sea of Galilee at the time, teaching and healing. Some proclaimed him to be the promised Messiah. Others denounced him as a false prophet. Matters of religion could wait; Father was only interested in saving his daughter.
Because of his position of leadership in our synagogue, Father was used to people begging for his help. This time, he was the one on his knees. In spite of the demands of the massive crowds that always seemed to surround him, Jesus agreed to come.
While he was still on his way home, a group confronted my father. Too late, they told him; I was already gone. He was wasting the Rabbi’s time. With an encouraging word for Father, Jesus pressed on. The news didn’t even slow his progress.
When they arrived, the house was already inundated with those who had gathered to mourn my passing. But Jesus told them I had only fallen asleep. Perhaps he was speaking in riddles as he was known to do, but the wailing crowd had heard enough. They laughed and ridiculed him. How their sorrow turned so quickly to amusement is something that will always be a mystery to me.
Jesus sent most everyone away then came to my bedside. There were none of the practiced histrionics one might expect from a worker of miracles. He only spoke and touched me and I was well.
Before Jesus left this Earth in so violent a manner, only to return from the grave, he invited people to follow him, to begin a new life in him. It isn’t just talk to me. New life is a reality. That’s why I follow him to this day.
Looking back now, from an old age that I should never have reached, I sense death approaching… again. This time I’m aware of it. No one will come to my bedside to heal me. But I still expect to be awakened by my Savior and to hear His tender voice say to me: