Scripture Reference: Mark 5:21-43
Suggested Emphasis: No problem is too big for Jesus to take care of.
A synagogue ruler named Jairus had a little girl who was dying. He begged Jesus to come to his house and heal her. Jesus agreed to accompany Jairus but was detained when he stopped to heal someone else. Meanwhile the girl died. When Jesus arrived at the house he told the mourners that the little girl was not dead but just “asleep.” They laughed at him. Then, everyone was astonished as Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead.
You can also read this story in Matthew 9:18-26 and Luke 8:41-56. It takes place on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, possibly at Capernaum. As usual, a large crowd gathered around Jesus to hear him teach and to see what miracles he might do.
There are really two stories in this section of Scripture. One is the healing of Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter and the other is the healing of a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. The second story takes place in the middle of the first. In today’s lesson we will concentrate on the story of Jairus.
As ruler of the synagogue Jairus was probably a much respected person. The synagogue ruler’s responsibilities often included administration, looking after the building and/or supervising the worship. He was not a priest or rabbi nor was he paid or supported by the synagogue. People chose their leader out of respect. Jairus must have loved his daughter very much to risk the respect of his Jewish peers and go to Jesus for help.
As a parent, it must have been very difficult to wait while Jesus tended to others. Jairus knew his daughter was dying and yet he listened to Jesus refer to a woman he healed as “daughter” (Mark 5:34). While Jesus called the woman “daughter” friends came to tell Jairus that it was too late- his daughter had died. They might have thought Jesus could help with the problem when the girl was alive but now, since the girl was dead, the problem was just too big for Jesus.
Jesus knew what Jairus was feeling and told him not to be afraid but to just believe. The fact that he continued along with Jesus shows that he did indeed believe.
Jews did not embalm or cremate their dead so burials usually took place within twenty-four hours. Sometimes professional mourners (and flute players Matthew 9:23) were called in to wail and lament. They all took part in the loud funeral procession leading to the place of burial. It seems that things were already underway when Jesus arrived. All of these people knew the difference between a sleeping person and a dead person. They just laughed when Jesus said the girl was “sleeping”. But Jesus knew he was about to “wake her up”. We know she was actually dead because her spirit had left her (Luke 8:55).
“Talitha koum!” is in the original Aramaic languages. This is the language the Jews spoke in the first century and so these are the actual words Jesus would have said.
Everyone was astonished and joyous when the little girl was raised from the dead. But the little girl must have just been bewildered. Jesus shows sensitivity in asking someone to get her something to eat.
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Show the children how to take their pulse and listen to their heartbeat. Discuss that these are signs that a person is still alive. The children will probably have seen some rescue type shows on television in which rescuers are able to get a person to start breathing again. Even if rescue attempts had been performed on the little girl in today’s story they would not have worked. She was dead. People were already getting ready for her funeral.
Many people gathered around Jesus to hear him preach and to watch him do miracles. There were old people and young people, rich people and poor people. Some people were sick and others just wanted to listen.
One man who came to Jesus was named Jairus. A lot of people knew Jairus because Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue. Jairus’ job at the synagogue was to make sure that everything was ready when the people came to learn about God. Many people respected Jairus.
On this day Jairus had a very big problem. His twelve-year-old daughter was at home in bed. His daughter was so sick she was about to die. Jairus had come to Jesus because he thought Jesus could make his daughter well again.
“Please, Jesus, come and put your hands on my daughter so that she can be well again!” Jairus begged Jesus.
So Jesus went with him. Jairus wanted them to hurry but people kept crowding around wanting Jesus to help them too. Jairus waited while Jesus helped them.
Jairus’ saw his friends coming toward him. They looked very sad and he knew they had bad news.
“Jairus you can stop trying to bother Jesus now. It is too late. Your daughter is dead,” the friends said.
Jairus was very sad. Jesus could have helped make his sick daughter well but nobody could make a dead girl alive. That would be impossible!
When Jesus saw that Jairus was sad and afraid he looked at him and said, “Don’t be afraid Jairus; just believe.”
So Jesus, Jairus, Peter, James and John left the crowd and kept walking until they reached Jairus’ house. When they arrived they heard lots of loud noise. People were crying and playing a kind of flute that people played at funerals. The dead daughter was lying down and everyone was gathered around feeling sad. Jesus told them to get out and quit all of the loud crying because the little girl was just sleeping.
Everyone laughed at Jesus because they knew that the little girl was dead. She had already stopped breathing and her heart was not beating. Everyone left the room except for Jesus, his disciples and the girl’s parents.
Jesus took the girl by the hand and said, “’Talitha koum!’ which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’”
Guess what! The little girl immediately got up and began to walk around. Jesus told the people to bring some food for the girl.
Everyone was astonished when they saw the girl walk around. Jesus made a dead girl alive again. Jesus could do anything!
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download these illustrations and the slideshow. Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- What was the name of the synagogue leader who asked Jesus to come and heal his little girl that was dying? Jairus
- Why did it take Jesus so long to get to Jairus’ house? He was healing people
- What did the mourners do when Jesus said Jairus’ daughter was sleeping? Laughed at him
- How old was Jairus’ little girl when Jesus raised her from the dead? Twelve years old
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- This is a good story to act out. While doing so be sure and emphasise the death of the girl. Someone might “check” for breathing and a pulse. Children especially love playing the part of professional mourners so they can wail and lament.
- Divide the students into two teams. Give each team a bowl of popcorn or some sort of lollies (candy). Give the teams a few minutes to confer among themselves. When the teacher says “go” the first team has five seconds to say something Jesus did that would have seemed impossible to those around him (they can think back on earlier lessons this term). If they can say it in the five seconds then all team members get to eat a bite of popcorn. If they can’t then the other team gets to eat a bite of their popcorn. Teams take turns until all the popcorn is gone.
- Before class write the memory verse (John 20:31) on a large piece of paper. Cut the paper into pieces like a puzzle. Hide the puzzle pieces around the room. When you say “go” then children find the pieces and put them together to form the puzzle.
- Play “hangman” using words from the memory verse or from today’s story.
- Sing The Potato Chip Song.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and worksheets about Jairus’ daughter (Calvary Curriculum)
- More activities at https://childrenschurch.wordpress.com
- Craft to print from http://www.jesus-without-language.net
- Adapt this printable craft for the story of Jairus’ daughter at http://www.jesus-without-language.net
- Colouring page from http://www.sermons4kids.com
- Skit: fairly simple skit with good banter between characters. Could be done with just two narrators or actually acted out with several actors. Found at http://www.dramatix.org.nz