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The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus (II of II)

July 30th, 2009

The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus

(An Excerpt from Chapter VI of How to Live Forever)

Part II

(iii.) The Eyewitness accounts:

With the availability of three eyewitness reports, we have the opportunity to compare the compatibility of the testimony for ourselves. From this point onward it will be much easier to evaluate the testimony of the resurrection accounts, for we have already proven the identity of each author. We have so proven by demonstrating the early acceptance of the four Canonical Gospels through the use of quotations by the earliest church fathers, men who were themselves trained and appointed by Jesus’ disciples. We have shown that these men, and their audience, accepted quotations from the Gospels as a final authority – the words of their Lord as preserved through His messengers. And this acceptance apparently pervaded the Christian world, throughout Rome, Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece at the very least.

The Raising of Jairus' Daughter - Schnorr von Carolsfield

The Raising of Jairus' Daughter - Schnorr von Carolsfield

In addition, we have recovered the testimony of Jesus’ Apostles regarding the origins of the four Gospels as preserved through the succession of elders in Rome, Alexandria, and Asia Minor. We have shown that other such successions probably existed in North Africa, Greece, Syria, and Palestine. And we have found no evidence of any conflicting testimony of apostolic origin concerning the Gospels. Rather, we have observed the confident perception of Justin, Aristides, Irenaeus, Lucian, and others that all Christians were using the same Gospels.

So we are now armed with the knowledge that Matthew, Jesus’ disciple and eyewitness wrote the Gospel of Matthew with an Hebrew audience in mind. Mark was not an eyewitness, but rather the interpreter[a] for Jesus’ Apostle Peter who was. Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark at the request of Peter’s followers, so that they might have a record of the testimony of Peter as regards the risen Christ.  Luke was not an eyewitness, but states in his introduction that his record was written to provide a more complete account of events surrounding Jesus’ life than previous accounts, presumably Matthew’s and Mark’s. Luke was liaison between the church elders at Jerusalem and the Apostle Paul during the latter’s two year imprisonment at Caesarea, (see discussion pp 78-83). During that time, Luke would have had ample opportunity to interview the surviving Apostles as well as Jesus’ family. To make good his claim to have written a more complete account, Luke must have had access to eyewitness testimony of comparable status to the Apostles Matthew and Peter, the witnesses for the accounts Luke intended to complete.

Likewise we have shown that each of these men risked their lives for their testimony. From the Jewish persecutions which immediately followed the crucifixion, through the persecutions under Herod Agrippa I, to the Roman anti-Christian policies which originated with Nero, Christians died for their testimony every step of the way. If we can accept perseverance unto death as evidence of sincere testimony, we must believe that each of these accounts was compiled and sworn to by men who believed in their message.

If you are not convinced at this point that the four Gospels constitute sincere, eyewitness testimony of the life of Christ, then there is no reason to read further. We have spent considerable effort validating these records because they contain the only existing observations of resurrection that may be proven accurate. The rest of our investigation rests upon the evidence of these documents. If you skimmed over the ancient testimony, or the accompanying arguments because of the tedious nature of the subject matter, then I highly encourage you to reread the proofs of this Chapter, as well as Chapter IV. The effort required to understand your own beliefs will pay large dividends when you are able to determine what you stand for, and what the meaning of your life is.

For those who recognize the eyewitness quality of the data, here is the account of the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter. The text is being presented in parallel columns for easy comparison:


Chapter 9 (NIV)


Chapter 6 (NIV)


Chapter 8 (NIV)

18While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. 21When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24So Jesus went with him. 40Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him.

41Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

The first thing we notice is that Matthew’s account contains less detail than Luke’s or Mark’s. Mark and Luke identify Matthew’s ruler as Jairus, a ruler of the local Synagogue. If Matthew was written first, and to the Hebrews, as unanimously averred by ancient testimony, then Matthew may well have been protecting Jairus from Jewish persecution by preserving his anonymity. This would be reminiscent of the Pharisee Nicodemus’ visit to Jesus – nocturnal and secret to avoid repercussions from the religious elite[1]. By the time Mark and Luke wrote, the need for such secrecy may have passed. A noticeable difference is that the ruler’s daughter had already died according to Matthew, whereas Luke and Mark assert that she was dying. This is a possible discrepancy that we will consider as we continue. Luke adds that she was Jairus’ only daughter, and twelve years of age.

20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31”You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

45“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

46But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

47Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

All three accounts report the encounter with the woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. The interruption serves as a literary device for Luke and Mark. At the end of this conversation Jesus receives an update on the condition of Jairus’ daughter. There is really no reason for Matthew to place this episode in the middle of the story of Jairus. Unless it just happened that way.

23When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, 24he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26News of this spread through all that region. 35While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”

36Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

37He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ). 42Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

49While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.”

50Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

51When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

53They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

After the miraculous healing, Mark and Luke report that Jesus received news of the daughter’s death. Mark reports that “some men” came from the house of Jairus, Luke states that “someone” from the house of Jairus delivered the message. Since it is reasonable to assume that one of the men told the news, I see no reason to preclude the possibility that several men came in Luke’s account as well. Here also is an answer to Matthew’s statement that the girl had already died. Since Matthew spent very little time on the incident compared to Mark and Luke, he did not provide a blow by blow analysis of the conversations. For his purposes, it was enough to say that the girl was dead before Jesus’ arrival. I suppose that these differences in presentation could be construed as contradiction, or disagreement. But I’ll bet the average District Attorney would be pretty satisfied with his case against a murderer if his three witnesses agreed this well.

Matthew speaks of flute players and a noisy crowd within the house of Jairus. Mark tells that Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. Luke says all the people were wailing and mourning for her. These statements are just three different way of describing the mourners required by Jewish law[b].  Once the daughter died, these mourners[2] would show respect and sorrow according to Eastern custom. Jewish law required that the corpse be buried on the very day of demise[3], so the mourners would arrive soon after death. Likewise it was forbidden to mourn or begin any funeral preparations until death had been confirmed[4].

The presence of mourners within Jairus’ house indicates that the girl had already been certified as deceased. Two sets of messengers were probably sent at the time of death by Jairus’ family; one to fetch mourners and begin funeral preparations, and the other to inform Jairus of his daughter’s death. Jesus tells the mourners in each version to be quiet and allow him some working room, stating that the girl ‘is not dead but asleep’. This does not mean that Jesus had detected a pulse. Rather, this is a common usage among those who believe that the dead may rise again[5]. The mourners make fun of Jesus. Death has already been pronounced. Any parent who has had to explain the death of a beloved pet to their child understands the certainty involved. She’s not coming back.

Then Jesus takes her by the hand, and speaks to her lifeless body – and she gets up! Standing up, walking around, and eating is definitive proof of life. And she was alive after the Jewish authorities had publicly declared her death. So what are the possibilities? Could she have merely been comatose?  As we observed at Nain, this doesn’t really solve any difficulties. Are we to presume that Jesus was some magnificent physician who could discern the difference between a deep coma and death; a difference unperceivable to all others? Why would Jesus tell the father to have faith before he even saw the girl’s body? A comatose victim returning to normalcy at Jesus’ word is hardly less miraculous than a dead girl returning to life under the same conditions.

Could the whole thing have been a hoax? Only the girl’s parents, and the Apostles Peter, James, and John were allowed to witness the actual resurrection event. Would Peter and James have gone to their deaths, and would John have risked death, to protect the elaborate charade of a false prophet, long since executed? The tone of their various writings certainly seems sincere, and their own disciples were convinced of these Apostles’ pure intent. These three were Jesus’ closest associates according to all testimony, (including Matthew’s and Luke’s.) So it doesn’t seem likely that they would be unaware of the true events.

No, these disciples stood for what they believed to be true their entire lives, and then two of them died for those beliefs. This dedication to the truth was part of the inspiration that they provided to their own disciples, without which the Christian church would have died in infancy. If the testimony were of commonplace events, no one would question the written accounts. Because the testimony is of human resurrection, we wonder whether we have missed some alternative explanation. But the truth, if we allow ourselves to be guided by the evidence, is that something miraculous happened with Jairus’ daughter. Other explanations are merely reflections of our inability to accept an observation beyond our own experience.

Finally, we should make certain that the observations were reported to us in pristine condition. Considering the case for each account, we must find:

(1)  a. The reporter either personally witnessed the event or;

b. The reporter personally and exhaustively interviewed all available eyewitnesses and accurately reported a compilation of their testimony, or;

c. both a. and b. above.

(2)  Nether the reporter, nor his eyewitnesses, are embellishing the account, (i.e. lying,) for some unknown motive.

(3)  Neither the reporter, nor his eyewitnesses are mistaken in their understanding of   events.

Matthew would have personally heard the announcement of the daughter’s death, and later seen the evidence of her resurrection. So Matthew satisfies premise (1) a.; with the exception that he was not present when Jesus’ performed the resurrection. He must have been supplied with the details of Jesus’ method by those present. But as far as details are concerned, Matthew’s account is much abbreviated compared to the other two. There is no reason to suspect that Matthew, who gave up a lucrative position as a Roman tax collector[6] to follow Jesus, and who later risked his life to remain in the Christian movement, would embellish the account. So premise (2) is satisfied. Matthew’s account is pretty cut and dry, so there’s really no room for him to have misinterpreted anything. He heard the declaration of the girl’s death. Later she lived. Witnesses who were present filled in the details of how it happened. So premise (3) looks good as well.

Mark heard the story directly from Peter, who was an eyewitness. So Mark satisfies (1) b. Mark was apparently working with Peter at the risk of his own life, so he wrote a sincere account, proving premise (2). Peter, according to Mark, testified that the girl was declared dead, and later rose and walked at Jesus command. However it happened, it’s hard to see how Peter or Mark could have mistaken these things.

Luke had access to Peter, John, (James had already been beheaded) and others, thus fulfilling premise (1) b. We don’t know what became of Jairus or his daughter, but they were also potential witnesses for each of our authors. In his preface, Luke stresses the careful research that went into his history. And Luke was one of Paul’s few companions just prior to the latter’s execution. Standing with Paul after his condemnation made Luke a criminal accomplice to the aged Apostle. So premises (2) and (3) appear valid as well.

In addition, the three Gospel accounts of Jairus’ daughter corroborate each other with only minor differences. These differences are reconcilable to within the limits of overlapping eyewitness accounts. Given that all three premises have all been satisfied for each of the three reports, we appear to have proven a bona fide resurrection.


1.) Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of International Bible Society. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of International Bible Society.

[a] In all likelihood Mark was the interpreter for Peter’s Latin audience. There is every reason to believe that Peter spoke Greek.

[b] As an example, Jewish law required a husband to provide at least two pipers and one keening woman for the death of a wife. This was required regardless of the family’s financial ability. For an excellent discussion of first century Jewish mourning and funeral practices, see Shemuel Safrai, M. Stern, The Jewish People in the First Century, Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, Vol. 2, pp 773-787.

[1] John 3:1-2

[2] Jeremiah 9:17-21; 48:36; Amos 5:16

[3] Shemuel Safrai, M. Stern, The Jewish People in the First Century, Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, Vol. 2, p. 774, Van Gorum, 1974

[4] Semahoth I

[5] Acts 7:60; 13:36; I Corinthians 11:30; 15:6; 18, 20; I Thessalonians 4:14, 15; 5:6, 10; The Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter IV; Clement, Epistle to the Corinthians, XLIV; Ignatius, Epistle to the Romans, IV;

[6] Matthew 9:9; Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, III

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