Thursday, 11 April 2013
'Jesus charged them to tell noone...' Luke 8.56
Luke's account, and Mark's, of the Raising of Jairus's daughter ends with an odd comment:
'He charged them to tell no one what had happened'.
What did happen?
I have great affection for this comment because it was this comment that set me on my journey 25 years ago to find the answers to the difficult passages in the Gospels. I had repeatedly asked whoever I could find that might be able to answer the question, 'What did happen in that room with the parents of Jairus and Peter, James, and John?'
I asked priests, bishops, professors, lecturers, scholars, pastors, and ministers. ALL of them gave me variations of the same answer....'Jesus charged them to tell no one that He had raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead'. When I replied that as soon as the daughter of Jairus walked out of the house the thousands of waiting watchers could see that she had been raised from the dead, I was told that:
1. I was being impertinent, or
2. that she had not really died in the first place. She was not dead dead, but only dead for a bit....! or
3. that the comments in Luke 8.56 and Mark 5.43 were textual errors, or
4. that the comment doesn't matter. The important point was the Miracle of the Raising of Jairus's daughter.
My subsequent questions about the significance of the details that she was 12 years old, and why Jairus was 'afraid' when told of her death rather than being distraught, were dismissed as irrelevant.
Finally, why was the account of the healing of the woman with an issue of blood sandwiched in the middle of the account of the Raising of Jairus's daughter in all 3 accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke?
I could accept the similarity in Matthew and Mark because of the obvious connection that 600 of the 666 verses in Mark appear in Matthew....but if Luke was very precise in his accounts, there must surely be a significance about the sandwich?
Finding the answers to these questions took some time...but, at last, I found the key to resolve my frustration. The key is to understand the background Jewish culture, thought patterns, and customs of the first century.
An example of this helps to explain the sandwich of the 2 accounts. If the woman with an issue of blood touched Jesus, He would have been made ritually unclean, and therefore unable to enter Jairus's house to lay hands on, minister to, heal the sick daughter. That is why there is such a strong reaction to the woman's desperate action.
However, when Jesus is told that the girl is now dead, that removes the restriction from Him entering the house.
Again, the reason that Jairus was 'afraid' rather than distraught when he heard the news of her death was that there are 2 comments in the Talmud that explain his reaction:
In Shabbat 32b, the Law of the Fringe: ‘Severe is the punishment of the one who neglects the performance of the Divine Command in putting on the fringes.’ The punishment was said by the Rabbis to be the death of children.
The second reference is in Menachoth 43b: 'Whoever is particular with the ordinance (of putting on the fringes) is worthy of receiving the presence of the S’kinah.'
Was Jairus afraid because he had not put his fringes on properly, or was he afraid because when he saw that the woman had been healed, that he might see the S’kinah? Whilst the Talmud was not committed to paper until the second century CE, it’s contents, and particularly it’s instructions, were well known, and they would certainly have been known by a synagogue leader like Jairus. Whatever the cause of Jairus's fear, the result in that bedroom was that Jairus and his wfie, Peter, James, and John saw the S'kinah, the visible manifestation of God Himself.
This was the same sight that Peter, James, and John saw on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17/Mark9 when He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
When Jairus and the others saw the S'kinah they realised that Jesus was the Messiah.....but it was not yet time for Jesus to reveal Himself so publicly as the S'kinah, the visible manifestation of God Himself. That time would come later, just before His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of His final week.
Therefore, given that the time was not yet, 'He charged them to tell no one what had happened'.
So that's what it was about!!!
Until next week...