Jesus performed multiple resurrections during his public ministry, reanimating lifeless corpses. Readers can find themes like mourning, humility, faith, and worship in the stories. Each resurrection miracle also foreshadowed the future resurrection of his followers and his own three days after his crucifixion. So how many people did Jesus raise from the dead?
According to the Gospels, Jesus raised three people from the dead: (1) The unnamed daughter of the synagogue leader, Jairus; (2) The unnamed son of the widow at Nain; and (3) Lazarus of Bethany, brother of Mary and Martha. These resurrections, and his own, demonstrate Jesus’ authority over death.
How old was Jairus’ daughter? Why was Jesus delayed from going to her? In what ways was the raising of the widow’s son different than Jairus’ daughter? What does Jesus interrupt to perform the miracle? Why does Jesus show so much emotion in the story of Lazarus’ resurrection? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also, see Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree? to learn more.
The resurrection of Jairus’ daughter
Mark devotes about one-third of his Gospel to Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (1:16-7:23). During this part of his public ministry, he healed people (1:29-34) and called disciples (3:7-19). He also taught about the kingdom of God, often using parables (4:1-34).
Jesus demonstrated his authority in several ways in Galilee. For example, he revealed that he was Lord of the Sabbath (2:23-3:6), sovereign over nature (4:35-41), and had the power to exorcise demons (5:1-20). Jesus also showed that he had power over death, as illustrated in the raising of Jairus’ daughter (5:21-43).
Jairus pleads with Jesus to heal his daughter
Jairus was one of the leaders of a local synagogue where Jews gathered to hear Scripture, recite prayers, and worship God. Yet when his unnamed, twelve-year-old (cf. 5:42) daughter falls ill and is near death, he fights through the crowds to approach Jesus of Nazareth (5:21-22).
Jairus approaches Jesus with humility, faith, and desperation. “My little daughter is at the point of death,” he said. “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live” (5:23). In response, Jesus went with Jairus, intending to go to his home. But then, someone else interrupted him (5:24-34).
|5 Facts About the Resurrection of Jairus’ Daughter|
|1. Jairus was a leader at a Jewish synagogue|
|2. His unnamed daughter is 12 years old|
|3. A woman with persistent bleeding delays Jesus|
|4. Peter, James, and John comprise Jesus’ inner circle|
|5. Mark emphasizes Jairus’ faith (and the woman’s)|
On the way to Jairus’ home, a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years reached out and touched the hem of his garment (5:27). Sensing that power had gone out from him (5:30), Jesus stopped to figure out who had touched him.
When the woman revealed herself, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (5:34). While Jesus was healing the bleeding woman, Jairus’ daughter died.
Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead
When the story reveals that the young girl is dead, Jesus says to Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe” (5:36). He took Peter, James, and John into the family’s home where people were mourning.
Jesus went to the girl’s body, taking her parents with him, took her hand, and said in Aramaic, “Talitha cumi,” meaning, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
In response to Jesus’ words, death relinquished the girl: “And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement” (5:42).
Also, see How Old Was Jesus When He Was Baptized? to learn more.
Jesus Interrupts A Funeral Procession to Raise the Dead
In the story of Jairus’ daughter, the synagogue ruler (and the bleeding woman) seek out Jesus to perform a miracle. In the story of raising the widow’s son, Jesus approaches a widow as she is on her way to bury the body of her only son (Luke 7:11-17).
“Do not weep,” Jesus told her. Then he stepped in front of the pallbearers and the coffin they were holding, preparing to perform a miracle. Luke writes, “Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise'” (7:14). And he did.
|5 Facts About the Resurrection of the Widow’s Son|
|1. Nain was six miles southeast of Nazareth|
|2. Unlike the story of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus intervenes on his own|
|3. Jesus interrupts a funeral procession to perform this miracle|
|4. Unlike the story of Jairus’ daughter, the resurrection is done in public|
|5. Luke emphasizes worship as people’s response|
Jesus’ words extend into the realm of death and free the son from its grip. He reanimates the corpse with life, movement, and speech. “And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother” (Luke 7:15). Jesus’ miracle reunited a family and prompted witnesses to worship God (Luke 7:16).
Dale Ralph Davis writes, “Don’t let the significance of this canceled funeral be lost on you. This ‘little’ miracle is telling you that even death is in Jesus’ power. Being in the realm of death does not put you beyond Jesus’ reach or the sound of His voice. Such a miracle is a sort of acted parable of what Christ will do at His second coming (1 Thess. 4:13-18).” 
Also, see What Did Jesus Eat? to learn more.
The Resurrection of Lazarus of Bethany
Unlike the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son, Jesus had a close relationship with the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:1-44). This likely explains why he showed more emotion in this story, such as when he cried (11:35), even though raising Lazarus was his plan all along (11:4).
When Jesus heard Lazarus was close to death, he didn’t immediately rush to be at his side (11:6). While this may seem cold-hearted to some readers, there was a purpose for his delay.
When his disciples asked about it, Jesus responded, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him” (11:14b-15).
|5 Facts About Lazarus’ Resurrection|
|Bethany was less than 2 miles from Jerusalem|
|This isn’t the same Lazarus as the one in Luke 16:19-31|
|Lazarus had been dead for four days|
|Like with Jairus’ daughter, Jesus missed Lazarus’ death|
|Jesus shows a lot of emotion in this story (v. 33, 35, 38)|
When Jesus arrived in Bethany at Lazarus’ tomb, his friend had been dead for four days (11:17, 39). In response to Martha’s lament that he was present when Lazarus died, Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (11:40).
Then Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me” (v. 41-42).
John 11:43-44 After he prayed, Jesus “cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go'” (John 11:43-44).
John scholar Gary Burge writes, “The story of Lazarus’ empty tomb anticipates the story of Jesus’ empty tomb. The Lord who has power over life has power over his own life as well. ‘The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again’ (10:17). If resurrection is the final, climactic sign, how much more will Jesus’ glorification be the ultimate sign of the Gospel!” 
Also, see Who Walked on Water with Jesus? to learn more.
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