Real Power


December 7

Read Mark 5:21-43

“Taking her by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ And immediately the little girl got up…”

This passage from Mark nicely displays two of Jesus’ unique traits. One is that Jesus brings good things out of their opposites. We have already seen this trait previously in Mark. When Jesus calmed the storm he brought order out of chaos, peace out of a raging storm. He then did exactly the same inside the demoniac in the following passage. In our present passage Jesus brings hope out of hopelessness; faith out of faithlessness; life out of death. This is just what Jesus does: he brings good things out of their opposites.

A second unique trait of Jesus is that he does the most extraordinary things in the most ordinary ways–a word or a touch, sometimes both and sometimes without meaning to. Jesus doesn’t trade in hocus pocus, incantations, elaborate arm-waving or long wind-ups before the pitch. He simply speaks into the storm; he merely commands the demons to leave the possessed man; he raises a little girl by taking her by the hand and whispering into her ear that it’s time to get up.

Taken together, these two traits tell us that Jesus has real power, or better yet, divine Power. Only God brings good things out of their opposite. Take the Creation for example: God brought all things into existence out of nothing. By the same token, only God can afford to do such extraordinary things in such effortless, unforced, ordinary ways. Again, take the Creation for example: he brought all things into existence out of nothing by simply speaking a word. As the Word incarnate, Jesus brings this same Power to bear on a desperate and dying world, bringing New Creation, which is to say, life out of death.

The woman with the flow of blood is not dying but she is desperate. She has a chronic condition that has rendered her a social outcast. According to the Law, she is unclean and anyone she touches will be unclean. Therefore, for twelve long years she has been bereft of human touch. She is unnamed and therefore defined only by her shame. In a word, she is hopeless. But when she steals a touch from Jesus, he commends her for her faith. Jesus speaks and brings forth hope out of hopelessness.

Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, is not dying either but he is desperate. You see, he’s a father and his daughter’s dying. He begs Jesus to come and do something about it–he has a modicum of faith. But when Jesus delays, his daughter dies, and that modicum of faith evaporates. Jesus tells him, “Do not be afraid, but keep having faith.” Jesus speaks and brings forth faith out of faithlessness.

The little girl is neither desperate nor dying–she is dead. Jesus kneels down and takes her by the hand. Our Bible translations read that Jesus says, “Talitha cumi,” which means “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” That’s not quite right. Talitha, taken literally, means ‘little girl.’ But it’s a term of endearment and could better be rendered, ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey.’ Likewise, a simpler translation of cumi is ‘get up.’ What’s the point? It is simply that Jesus walks into the room, stares  the great enemy, death, full in the face, and he calmly kneels down , takes a little girl by the hand and whispers, “Sweetie, it’s time to get up.” Jesus speaks and brings life out of death.

What do you need Jesus to speak into reality in your life this Advent? Will you let him calmly and unassumingly speak divine Power into your life? This is just what Jesus does.

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