Feasting with God # 30
What Living Things Need
Text: Mark 5:41-43
41Taking her by the hand [Jesus] said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Notice how Jesus has concern for the little things. Jairus, a Jewish elder in the synagogue, had come to Jesus asking him to heal his sick daughter. By the time Jesus arrived, however, it was too late; the daughter was dead, and the family was in mourning. But Jesus surprised them by telling them that it wasn’t too late: “The child is not dead but sleeping” (Mark 5:39). They laughed at him, naturally—how could such a highly reputed healer not know the difference between sleep and death? So Jesus sent the mourners away and, before his disciples and the girl’s parents he performed this miracle: raising her from the dead.
Shock and awe immediately overcame them. They knew she was dead, and now she was alive! Such a change, how could they help but to be amazed? Jesus knew how their amazement would distract them from what was needed next, so he “told them to give her something to eat.” He paid attention to the little things.
This girl’s eating after being raised to life accomplished two things: 1) It filled her stomach. Doubtless she was hungry. It had probably been hours since her last meal (and perhaps a great deal more, if her illness had kept her from eating anything substantial). Jesus knew the parents would be excited about their daughter’s rising to life, and that this would probably distract them from doing anything practical about it. Their natural reaction would be to parade her around town, show her off to all their friends, and forget totally about any sort of food, not out of negligence, but out of excitement. So Jesus showed he was concerned for her well-being, because as a newly alive being, she needed the sustenance of food. 2) It proved that she was indeed alive. Yes, she had started walking around, and this proved her coming to life, but the need for food, the act of eating, was the nail in the coffin of proof—so to speak—because all living things need to eat something. Jesus himself would demonstrate this very proof at his resurrection (“And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ [Luke 24:41]).
All life must be nourished by food. This is a fact of nature, and a given. But it is sometimes forgotten that this applies to spiritual food as well. When we are reborn in the waters of baptism and raised to new sanctified life in Christ, that New Man must be fed in order to remain alive, and that feeding must begin immediately. The very Word of God which raised that New Man to life in the first place is his food. We must return again and again to God’s Word to nourish our souls, so that we don’t go spiritually hungry and die spiritually. But also such feeding proves that we are in fact alive to begin with. An unbelieving heart does not seek nourishment from God’s Word. An unbelieving heart may come to God’s Word in search of “teachers to suit [its] own passions” (2 Tim. 4:3), but not to be nourished. It may come to God’s Word seeking to disprove God, to call God a liar, but not to be nourished. In this way we can see a glimpse at the heart to find out whether it is alive or dead: only a living heart seeks spiritual food from God’s Word.
And this God provides, before we can even ask for it, just as Jesus provided food for Jairus’ daughter, before she could ask or her parents could think of it. Just think: if God is so concerned for life to rise up in us, won’t he be equally concerned that that life be sustained? He will sustain it. He will give us all things necessary for this spiritual life; and he is even concerned about the little things, the daily bread we need for this physical life as well.
Give us this day our daily bread, heavenly Father, even as you have promised to do. And above this, give us our daily spiritual bread, so that our souls may be ever nourished in faith toward you, and so that the spiritual life you have begun in us may be sustained by you until we come to our everlasting life with you. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.