Talitha Cumi: The Story of Jairus and His Daughter

Talitha Cumi: 

The Story of Jairus and His Daughter


Jairus looked at the decorated doorway of the synagogue.  He had always admired the beautiful design of grapes, vines, and a pot of manna[i]. The children of Israel had received manna each day because of Moses' goodness.  When he left, the manna left.[ii] Oh how Jairus wished that Moses were here now.  Maybe Moses could explain to Jairus what he had done to cause such heartache upon his household.  

As the ruler of the synagogue, he was responsible for the building and worship services.[iii] Synagogues were supposed to be built from the donations of the people, but Capernaum was a small fishing town.  The only reason why they had such a nice synagogue at all was because of a centurion.  Had it not been for the Roman's donation, they might not have had a synagogue at all.[iv]  

Has it really been three months? thought Jairus as he reflected back on that fateful day.  It seemed like it was just yesterday that his wife had met him at the doorway with tears in her eyes.

"Something is wrong with Mara[v]," his wife had said.  

Jairus was led to Mara's bed where she had lain so still.  "Talitha[vi]," his wife called out, "Talitha, your father is here to see you." 

Mara had slowly opened her eyes and turned towards Jairus. She smiled.  "Abba[vii]." She tried to sit up and reach out her arms.  Jairus had picked her up and cradled her in his arms.  Even though she was 12 and would soon become a woman, he still saw her as a little child.  

"What is wrong, Mara?" Jairus had asked. 

"I do not know, I just feel very tired," answered Mara.  

Jairus had stroked her hair, "Well, rest for now.  Dinner will be soon.”

That night the grapes, dried fish, and barley bread on Mara’s plate had remained untouched.[viii] 

Jairus recalled his wife’s painful question as she put away the food.  "Is Mara going to die?"  

Jairus had put his arm around his wife to comfort her. "No, she is our only child.  We are good people.  We follow the Law and He has favored us.  He has no reason to punish us now.  Mara is going to grow up, marry, and have children of her own.  She will be a delight to us in our old age.  We have nothing to worry about."  

Jairus' wife had frowned, "I hope you are right."  

"Trust me.  We are God-fearing Jews, nothing bad will happen to us."

But as the days went on, Mara had grown weaker and weaker.  She rarely ate and was becoming just a shell of who she was.  Although he tried to hide it, Jairus was beginning to worry.  Why would God punish him when he follows the Law with such strict obedience?  

Suddenly the Jairus noticed the sun was starting to set.  How long had he been staring up at the synagogue's doorway?  It was getting late and Jairus needed to return home.  He walked down the stone streets trying to think of which laws he needed to work harder to obey.  As Jairus’ house came into view, he slowed his pace.  His daughter Mara used to run out to greet him.  He would pretend that he couldn't walk with her arms wrapped around his legs.  She would laugh and declare herself to be stronger than Samson.  Today the walkway remained empty.  

Jairus entered the house quietly so as not to disturb his little girl in case she was sleeping.  He saw many people in his home caring for Mara.  He also saw the hired mourners waiting for her death so they could begin their theatrical lamentations.  He realized they were the only ones anxious for Mara to take her last breath. 

"How is she?" asked Jairus.  His wife turned towards him and just shook her head.  He saw the uneaten bread by her bedside.  He tried to remember the last time she had eaten even just a tiny morsel of food.  It must have been days if not a full week.  His daughter was dying right before his eyes.  He had to do something.

Jairus knelt on the floor next to his wife and stroked Mara's hand.  He whispered, "I think I am going to see if Jesus will heal her."  

"Jesus?" asked his wife.  "What will the elders say?  How can you offend them so?"[ix]

"Honestly, offending the elders is the least of my worries.  I have seen and heard of Jesus' miracles.  Many seek after him for blessings.  If I can convince him to even just lay his hands on Mara's head, I know she will be healed." Jairus stood to leave and kissed his wife on her head.  "I should not be gone long."  

"Please hurry," his wife stroked Mara's face.  "I do not know how much longer she has to live."  

Jairus walked through the busy streets of Capernaum.  He could see a crowd gathering towards the wharf by the sea of Galilee.  He tried to look to see what was the commotion.  It was Jesus.  Many had been afraid the he had been hurt after the storm.[x]  Jairus pushed his way through the crowd.  Fortunately as a respected ruler, it wasn't hard to convince people to step aside for him.  

He finally reached Jesus.  

He was so overwhelmed with relief to be with the one who heals, he fell down at his feet and worshipped him.  He tried to speak but the words caught in his throat.  Tears fell from his eyes instead.  Jesus bent down.  

"My little daughter lieth at the point of death:" He thought of her shallow breathing, barely perceptible when he had left.  "I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she my be healed;" he choked back the tears threatening to fall, "and she shall live."  

Jairus could feel his chest tighten as he waited to see if Jesus would be willing to heal little Mara.  

Jesus nodded. "Take me to your home."  

Relief!  Jesus would come and his daughter would live.  All was going to be well.

As Jairus started to lead Jesus back to his home, he realized more people were gathering.  A ruler of the synagogue asking Jesus for help was drawing everyone’s attention.  Jairus found it difficult to make his way past the throngs of people trying to join the growing group of people wanting to see what would happen to the ruler’s daughter.

Just as Jairus thought the crowd was going to crush him, he could feel Jesus stop behind him.  

 "Who touched my clothes?" asked Jesus. 

Who touched your clothes? thought Jairus, why everyone has!  Jairus wondered why Jesus would ask such an obvious question.  So did one of Jesus' disciples.  He too wondered why Jesus was asking such a strange question.  

Jesus turned around and walked towards a woman sitting on the ground.  

Oh no, not her!  That woman had been sick for as long as Mara had been alive.  She wasn't on her deathbed.  If she could live with her disease for over a decade, surely she could wait one more day before bothering Jesus.  

Much to Jairus' chagrin, Jesus stopped and knelt beside the woman.  

He asked her to explain why she touched his clothing.  The woman began to explain that she had been suffering with an issue of blood and how she felt that if she could just touch Jesus' clothes she would be healed.  Jesus listened carefully to her words.  Jairus grew impatient with the interchange.  We don’t have time for this! he thought.

Jesus responded, "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." 

Jairus was trying to summon the courage to say something when Jesus finally left the woman and started again towards Jairus' home.  

Someone came running towards them from the direction of Jairus’ house.  Jairus looked into the man’s eyes and instantly knew what he was going to say before he said it.  The man grabbed Jairus by the shoulders.  “Thy daughter is dead:” Jairus could feel his knees start to buckle.  The man then tilted his head towards Jesus. “Why troublest thou the Master any further?” he asked Jairus.

It was true.  Why bother Jesus now?  It was too late.  If only that sick woman hadn’t been so selfish to be healed right now when a little girl was so close to death.  If they hadn’t stopped, they’d be at his home by now, and his daughter might have lived.   

Jesus looked into Jairus’ eyes.  He said tenderly, “Be not afraid, only believe.”

Jairus felt that there was nothing left to believe. 

Jesus said he only wanted Peter, James, and John, his disciples, to continue with him into Jairus’ home. 

As they entered, Jairus could barely get inside it was so full of people.  The mourners had already begun their weeping and wailing.  The noise was drowning out the soft cries of his sweet wife kneeling by Mara’s bedside. 

Jesus looked around at the scene before him and said to the professional mourners, “Why make ye this ado, and weep?  The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.” 

The people responded by laughing at Jesus.  Jairus felt sick to his stomach.  Jesus had everyone leave except for Jairus, his wife, and the three disciples. 

With everyone gone, Jairus was able to get closer to his deceased daughter.  She lay so still and peaceful, for a second he almost believed Jesus, that she was just asleep.  

But when he touched her arm and felt her cold skin, he knew it wasn’t true.  She was gone.  Gone forever.

Jesus bent over Mara and took her hand.  He said, “Talitha cumi.”  Jairus was moved that he would talk to her as if she was his own daughter, just as he had called the woman on the street whom had touched his clothes.  But why was Jesus commanding her to arise?  Could he not see she was dead? 

Immediately little Mara sat up.  

Jairus and his wife stepped back in surprise.  Is this really happening?  Has Jesus who has healed so many, brought their precious only daughter back to life?  Jairus and his wife held onto each other tightly as they watched Mara get out of bed and walk for the first time in months. 

Jesus then looked at the five people standing around the little girl.  He told them not to tell anyone what had happened.  He then said that she should be given something to eat.  Jairus’ wife was more than happy to oblige.  She had wanted nothing more than to see her daughter eat even just a small piece of bread.

Jairus began to weep with joy.  His daughter was alive.  All because of Jesus!


After the news of John the Baptist’s[xi] beheading reached Capernaum, Jesus went away to be alone.  But as always, the crowd could not stay away.  Despite dealing with his own grief, Jesus was concerned for the thousands of people who were with him.  Jairus had heard that he fed 5000 people with just a few loaves of bread and some fish.  Another miracle.

Now Jesus was to speak again at the synagogue.  Jairus was happy to make the arrangement.  As ruler, Jairus was responsible for finding sages to interpret the scriptures that were read on the Sabbath.  He could think of no one else he wanted to hear from more than Jesus.  Jairus had never seen such a large crowd.  Word had travelled fast of his feeding the masses. 

Jesus stood before the large crowd and said, “Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” 

Jairus thought back to the day when he had looked at the pot of manna above the doorway and had wished that Moses had been here to save him.  It now seemed ages ago. 

Jesus continued, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.”

Despite years of hearing that it was Moses who had provided the manna, Jesus’ words rang true.  The gift had been from the Father. 

Jesus’ then said, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” 

Jairus looked at his daughter sitting next to his wife.  Her eyes shone as she looked upon the one who had healed her.  Jairus agreed, bread does still come down from heaven, and it truly does give life.


[i] Ancient ruins were discovered revealing the décor of the synagogue in Capernaum. https://biblehub.com/library/edersheim/the_life_and_times_of_jesus_the_messiah/chapter_xxxii_the_great_crisis.htm

[ii] This was a popular but incorrect belief of the Jews.  They thought it was because of Moses the manna came down from the sky. 

[v] I chose this name for Jairus' daughter as it is not known.  However this is one of the top 9 names that were popular for girls in Galilee and Judea.  http://yeshuaincontext.com/2011/03/jewish-names-in-galilee-and-judea/

[vi] Talitha is a term of endearment the parents would have most likely used.  It is like calling someone "little lamb." https://www.gotquestions.org/talitha-cumi.html
[vii] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/factchecker-does-abba-mean-daddy/
[viii] http://www.jesus-story.net/nazareth_food.htm
[ix] https://biblehub.com/library/lardner/a_vindication_of_three_of_our_blessed_saviours_miracles/section_ii_particulars.htm
[xi] Jairus would not have known him as John the Baptist.  I am using his modern name for clarity’s sake.

This story is to coincide with the Come Follow Me Individual Lesson for Mar. 4 - Mar. 10.  

This is a fictionalized version of the story found in the New Testament. 
Not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
All photos are from lds.org unless otherwise sourced.