Jesus spoke to the dead girl as if her ears still worked

Gabriel Max (German, 1840-1915). 'The Raising of the Daughter of Jairus,' 1881. oil on canvas. Walters Art Museum (37.170): Acquired by Henry Walters, 1906.“Talitha cumi,” he said to her. Little girl, get up. So she did. Feed her, he said to her parents. So they did.

But where’s the beginning of this story? We find it in Mark Chapter 5.

Jesus and the disciples had been across the lake (Sea of Galilee) for a while, then came back to where they started. One of the religious leaders was in the crowd waiting for them with a very sad story. His daughter was dying.

Please come, he begged Jesus. Put your hand on her, and she will be healed and live!

And so Jesus did. Now, he could have just spoken a word or two and sent the fellow home. After all, that’s what he did with the Centurian and the sick servant. No need to travel, just say something short.

But in this case Jesus did what the father asked. Before they had gone far, some men met them and said, Don’t bother, your daughter’s dead. Sad news, fear-creating news, doubt-filled news.

Jesus ignored their words. Still, he knew the father probably couldn’t just ignore their words, so he countered them with faith-filled words — “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

The father had to choose which words to accept. Since they continued on to the house, he obviously chose Jesus’ words.

When they got to the house, there was a lot of noise – the mourners had already gathered. You’re wasting your time, she’s dead, they claimed. Again Jesus countered their words. “She’s not dead, she’s asleep.”

They laughed – and Jesus put them out. It wasn’t his house, but he still put them out. He got rid of the mournful, faithless folks and once they were gone, he took the faithful disciples and parents into the girl’s room.

Jesus again did what the father asked. He put his hand on the girl and spoke to her as if she could hear him. “Talitha cumi.” Little girl, get up. And she did!

She didn’t just get up, she walked around. Knowing she’d be hungry, Jesus told them to feed her, and I’m sure they did.

What happened here? Why did Jesus agree to the requests of this man? Jesus came, he put his hand on the dead girl, she was healed and she lived, just like the father had said.

How did the head of the synagogue, a religious leader, get this faith in Jesus? Enough that he ignored the men from his own household, ignored the grieving mourners come to offer sympathy to the family?

I think about the statement Jesus made to several other people. Your faith has done it. Your faith has healed you. Your faith has healed your servant. Your faith has healed your daughter.

Your trust, reliance, assurance, confidence, your knowing-that-you-know faith. Not just in who Jesus is and what he can do, but in his will, his desires, his compassion.

This man had to have received this faith from listening to Jesus’ own words and making a firm decision from his heart, a decision to believe him. He had to reaffirm that decision on the road to the house when Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing not just any words, Jesus’ words. Despite his religious training and position in the community, this man had made the decision to believe in Jesus. Jesus recognized it, acknowledged it and honored it.

These days as in those days, that kind of faith is a rare commodity. Churches are filled with people like those mourners, those so-called friends of the family. “It’s too late,” they say. “We can’t know God’s will for sure,” they say. Their words lack confidence, boldness and power.

“I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith,” Jesus said of the Centurian. (Matthew 8:10)  We might as well say “anyone in America,” or “anyone in Florence.”

My goal is to be one of the disciples Jesus will let into the room. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Jesus asked. (Luke 18:8) Yes! Oh yes! Is my prayer.

(Originally posted March 10, 2008.)

I’m whistling up my sheep

16 Jan 2016

“I’m whistling up my sheep,” the Lord said to me this morning.

Lying in bed about 5:00 AM, not quite ready to get up, I asked the Lord to talk to me. (Last night I had gone to sleep so quickly that I didn’t even pray much.)

That was his answer. “I’m whistling up my sheep from all over the world.”

Then he showed me, scene by scene, masses of people being born again. In Iceland. Greenland. Lapland. The Gobi desert. Afghanistan. The Russian Steppes. China. South Africa. Indonesia. Kuwait. The continents, the island nations, small and large.

And on, and on, and on. Lost people responding to the prayers of found people, their hearts are waking up to desire God, to hunger for the true God. They are seeking Him and they are finding.

“If they have never heard the gospel, a way will be made for them to know it. They are entering the kingdom by twos, and threes, by two thousands, and three thousands. My sheep are coming in.”

I suddenly began to see faces, nations – black, white, red, yellow, brown, every shade of every skin color. Oriental. Pacific Islanders. Asians. European. Scandinavian. Native Americans. South American. First People.

Then I heard the whistle, like a boy calling his dog, or a coach calling his team, or a shepherd calling his sheep. The Shepherd is calling His sheep, and they are coming.

I realized – those who he is calling were not yet born again when he began whistling. The whistling is in response to the intercessions of his obedient born-again ones. As they pray and decree what the Shepherd wishes, he carries out those wishes.

And so he is whistling up his sheep. Whew. I can see those faces, hear those whistles. Multitudes are coming into the kingdom.

(See Zechariah 10:8)

God is working…

In the desert…

I have a dream
Excerpt from the Arabian Peninsula Newsletter
Used with permission
October 2010

Much like the famous song “I have a dream,” many Arabs have a keen awareness of the supernatural world of dreams. To dream something must mean something. It is also not uncommon for God to use dreams and visions among Muslims to give them a glimpse of Himself and His love for them.

Dreams are seen as being in touch with the higher world, an avenue of the gods. When folks do dream, they tend to ponder on their meanings and seek interpretations from their religious leaders. The founder of Islam had many dreams too; therefore they are very open to receive messages from above too.

When asking a seeking Muslim if he ever had a dream of Jesus, the answer is most likely a resounding YES. Somehow God uses this unpredictable world of dreams to reveal Himself in a personal way to many, if they liked it or not. For some it is the jump start to a spiritual pilgrimage for the truth, for others it is a fleeting memory to be filed away for later reflection.

Thousands of ex-Muslims testified that dreams played a significant role in their decision making process before becoming a Christian. Since it is not possible to influence the content of dreams, they experience it as very significant pointers on their road to salvation.

“How did you know it was Jesus in your dream?” was one of the questions asked of the dreamers by their curious friends. Sometimes they just knew, while other times Jesus talked to them in an audible way. They usually could remember an overwhelming sense of love and light, and often woke up in tears of longing. Meeting Jesus just seemed to change a person’s life forever.

The dreams put them on a spiritual journey that often cause them to go the mosque more frequently, to study the Quran more fervently, and to follow their prayer rituals more earnestly. But soon they discovered that Jesus is not to be found in the mold they were used to.

A sense of longing for more of Jesus persisted until they finally find a Bible in a language they could understand. Reading more about what Jesus said and did was like taking a flying leap forward in their search for the truth. They discovered that He was so much more than they ever encountered in their dreams, causing a longing for more of Him.

Some folks even dreamt some of the parables that Jesus told, and then discovered them anew when they read the gospels. By the time they made a decision for Jesus, they had long since stopped going to the mosque and rather spent their time in reading the Bible. Fortunately the Bible is available in a variety of Arabic dialects and translations, but finding a hard copy seemed to be a difficult venture. None of the bookshops in the Gulf countries (except one or two) sold Bibles.

The availability of the internet caused many to Google their way to a place where they could download their own personal copy to read. In spite of many government efforts to block Christian websites, the persistent seeker would always be able to find what they were looking for. Some even discovered Arabic chat rooms where they can voice their questions to a real person, or could chat for hours with a fellow believer.

“One of the most significant TV programs I have seen was when a Saudi man phoned in to an Arabic Christian TV show broadcast from Lebanon, asking the presenter a lot of questions about Jesus. When the presenter offered to pray with him, he immediately accepted, and prayed word for word after him, inviting Jesus into his life.”

“It was like peeping into the throne room of God, seeing a man transformed over the digital channel by waves of God’s love, finding peace and a future of hope. I was in tears with them, sharing their joy and awe,” confessed a worker in the region.