The New Testament tells of a man named Jairus, whose twelve-year-old daughter was very ill. Nothing he and others had tried had succeeded in helping her, so her father found Jesus and flung himself at the Savior’s feet. He pleaded with Jesus to save his daughter, who was dying.
Although Jesus was willing to go to Jairus’ home, others crowded around, still trying to get his attention. He responded to at least one of these people and healed the woman with the issue of blood, who touched his gown. As Jesus spoke to the woman, a messenger came from Jairus’ home and informed him that the little girl was dead. The messenger advised Jairus not to bother the Savior, because it was now too late.
Jesus, overhearing the man, assured Jairus, “Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.” The reactions of those around them were largely skeptical. Many laughed and mocked, not believing it was possible to heal a dead child. In Jairus’ home, where Jesus went, people continued to weep and to insist it was too late.
Jesus took charge of the situation. He sent all those who lacked faith out of the house. Those who laughed and those who cried—it didn’t matter how they showed their lack of faith—were all sent away. Finally, there remained only Jesus, the parents of the child, and three of the Savior’s apostles, who had come with Him.
Then, in a room filled only with those who believed in God and in Jesus Christ, Jesus took the child’s hand and commanded her to rise. She did so, fully brought back to life. Jesus then instructed them not to share what He had done with others. He also suggested they give her something to eat, now that she was well.
As I’ve taught this to children over the years, I have always focused on Jesus’ role in performing a miracle. That is the reason the lesson is taught, according to the lesson manual teachers are given. We are learning that Jesus could heal the sick through his priesthood. However, when I taught it earlier this year, another aspect of the story caught my attention as I studied it in preparation for teaching my preschoolers.
I became aware that prior to carrying out the miracle, Jesus sent away all those who lacked faith in His ability to carry out the miracle. Those left had complete faith in Him. The lesson manual says to ask the children how Jesus was able to raise the girl from the dead. It explains to the teacher that she was healed because Jesus had the priesthood and the parents had faith.
I had never really given a great deal of thought to this sentence before. Mormons believe that the priesthood Jesus held is held by worthy males today. Men who hold the proper priesthood office for healings today—most active adult men in the Church—can use their priesthood to help those who are ill. They put a small bit of consecrated oil on the head of the person who is ill or in need of a blessing, and then, placing their hands on the person’s head, one of the two or more priesthood holders speaks a blessing. The words said are spoken through inspiration from the Holy Ghost and the results are dependent, of course, on God’s will.
However, the faith of those administering the blessing and of those receiving it matter. They are critical to how the blessing will work. This sentence in the book made me realize that those who do not hold the priesthood, but are in the room, also matter. When a child is ill and receiving a priesthood blessing, the father might, with another priesthood holder, be giving the blessing, but the mother is usually there as well, praying along with the blessing. This story tells us that her participation matters.
If Jesus Christ felt a desire to draw on the faith of those around Him to carry out His priesthood action, how important is that faith to everyone else? Fully mortal priesthood holders will gain far more than Jesus Christ did. When I taught the lesson, I asked the children to hold up both hands. They raised one hand higher and said, “Jesus had the priesthood.” Then they raised the other hand to the same level. “And the parents had faith.” They put their two hands together. “The priesthood and the faith came together.” They then stood and said happily, ‘And the girl stood up!”
When miracles have the potential to happen, we have a responsibility to contribute our faith to those miracles. God draws on the faith of everyone involved when He plans a miracle for someone’s life. Choose to be a part of that miracle. Grow your faith.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.