What’s the meaning of talitha koum? Did you hear it today in the Gospel?

Jesus spoke this foreign Aramaic phrase when He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:21–43).  Why Aramaic? Aramaic was the common, everyday language in Israel at that time of Jesus’ coming. Mark interprets the sentence for us: “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” The account of this healing is also found in Matthew 9 and Luke 8, but only Mark records the Aramaic words that Jesus spoke,”talitha koum.”

Talitha is a term of endearment. It is related to a word that can also mean “lamb.” Jesus’ use of this term, coupled with His taking the little girl by the hand, provides an image of compassion and gentleness from Him. He is The Good Shepherd lovingly gathering a lamb in His care, just like the prophecy of Isaiah said would be of The Christ. Isaiah 40:11 says. “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in the fold of His robe; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” So hear Him say “talitha koum” as saying to the 12 year old girl, “My little lamb, it’s time to get up.” ” He says this to her as He restores her life.

Jesus saying, “Talitha koum,” comes in the context of a larger story. In Capernaum, Jesus was surrounded by a crowd when Jairus, a synagogue ruler, fell at Jesus’ feet. Falling at Jesus’ feet was an act of humility, faith, submission, and expectancy. It was a dramatic moment. Jairus pleaded earnestly with Jesus, because his young daughter was dying and he wanted Jesus to heal her. That this event or request took place in a crowd was not unusual, as He attracted big numbers, but the point of a synagogue leader recognizing Jesus’ authority and requesting His help was. He urges Jesus to follow him to his house to see the very ill girl. We never get her name. Sometimes the name is absent in a Gospel for it is meant for us to imagine having the place of being the person Jesus helps. It could be anyone that Jesus will help.

On the way to Jairus’ house, Jesus got interrupted by another need for healing. It actually was not meant to be an interruption by the sick woman, as all she did was reach out in faith and just touch Jesus’ garment. She wanted a healing for a bleeding ailment that was going on with her for 12 long years. She did not want to stop Jesus, but just get a quick healing, without his needing to stop. She touched the passing hem of His garment, But Jesus did stop. He commented: “I just had healing power go out of Me. What has just occurred? Who was acting in faith for a healing?!” So we hear then in Mark 5:33 that a woman came forward and “trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth” (as the verse says) and Jesus says back to her compassionately, “Daughter, go in peace and be free from suffering.”

So Mark 5 has two women get a healing, and the number 12 is involved in both cases. 12 years of young life of a girl who’s tragically dying, and 12 years of a mature woman’s life long sick with an issue of blood problem. Both are healed!

Examine the details. The interruption could have perturbed the synagogue leader, for the healer was delayed in getting to his prior request for Jesus to urgently to get to Jairus house. But now here was this stoppage for the woman. Yet we don’t hear of his complaint. But the situation seems worse, because now people are coming to Jairus with the news: Forget about getting the healing rabbi over, the girl has died.

I think we can relate to the story in that sometimes it may feel that God seems delayed in getting to our big problems and helping us.

Faith becomes the common thread in this passage. The woman with the issue of blood believed she only needed to touch Jesus’ clothing to receive healing. As Jesus was affirming the woman’s healing, some people from Jairus’ house come now to tell him that it was too late—the daughter has passed. Overhearing them, though, Jesus told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” That is Mark 5:36. Jesus says to Jairus in-between breaths: I like your expectant faith. Don’t give up now.

Just a comment on this moment, before we move on. To take it personally… If you need a verse for your waiting upon God’s action, then take that one. Jesus says to you: “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

At that point, of the bad news arriving or the Good Word being said by Our Lord, Jairus had to decide if he would believe his friends or Jesus. In this situation, when it seemed death had the final say and all hope was lost, it says that Jairus continued to lead Jesus to his home. Hurrah!

I would hope that each of us can keep faith, and get through to the point when God can then do His work in us or for us. Don’t give up too soon.

Here in Mark 5, take note that both Jairus and the woman (with the dozen years’ issue of blood did show bold faith and they went and disregarded the pressures of the crowd for dismay. They favored in looking to Jesus for the healing. It was found in a word of request, and an anonymous touch of request.

At Jairus’ house, Jesus was met by people weeping and wailing loudly because the young girl had died. Jesus responded by telling everyone that she was not dead but sleeping. At his the mourners laughed at Him, and you can just imagine the scene.

The taunters said: ‘What can anyone do for a person obviously dead and gone?! Why is He still going to pray over her? Let’s laugh at him.’

Jesus asked for a little privacy for the miracle. Jesus took Jairus, Jairus’ wife, and three of His disciples with Him to the room where the little girl’s body lay. Then He took the little girl by the hand and said to her that wondrous phrase, “Talitha, cumi,” as Mark translates: “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” It’s Mark 5:41. Immediately, the little girl arose and walked around.

Both Jairus and the woman with the bleeding found the answers to their needs by coming to Jesus. In turn, He responded to their faith and revealed that He is Lord over disease and death.

That does not mean that God always heals or rescues people from danger, but it does mean that He holds the ultimate authority over death.

I can point you to a bible verse on that last point. St. Paul had miracles going on in His ministry in Christ, and he says in 2 Corinthians 12:1-3, 7.”It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to tell you that I have visions and revelations of the Lord:  I once was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know — only God knows. It was extraordinary…. but even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God, so to keep me from becoming proud, I should also share with you that I also was given a thorn in my flesh to bear with in my whole life, that which God allowed for my humility.”

So we get great miracles, yes—they can come.  We also can be granted great challenges. Both will produce faith in us. God will speak to us and we will act on it.

By Jesus’ word, talitha koum, the girl arose. This same Jesus is the One we look to today—our Savior is both gentle and strong. He is loving and absolutely powerful—loving enough to be our Good Shepherd and powerful enough to raise us from the dead. Faith in Him takes away all fear, even the fear of death.

We celebrate a Jesus Who has come from Heaven down to earth to save us. He became one of us so to save us. Jesus is the Human revelation of God among us. He’ll suffer with us, and ultimately, for us. He’ll do that for you and me.  Hebrews 2:14-15 says to us “Therefore, since the children of faith share in flesh and blood, He Himself, Jesus Christ, likewise, also partook of the same, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brothers and sisters so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

One future time from now, this Bible verse will happen to you. It is coming, when they declare that your human life has ended. But then you will wake up to see Jesus speaking over you, and speaking everlasting life to you. Little lamb of mine, arise and get up. Take a stroll in the everlasting fields of Heaven. You’ve made it alive forever.

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