The synagogue leader's name was Jairus. The first sentence above: "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed," was spoken directly to this synagogue leader.
This indicates several clear points
The first is that while Jesus often criticized the Jewish ecclesiastical priests and administrators for misleading people with their teachings and their rules and rituals, Jesus was quick to help such a person in that institution when he came to him for help.
This illustrates Jesus' mercy, and thereby God's mercy. Even though the Jewish leaders were often critical about Jesus, and were offensive in their teachings - and Jesus knew the leaders of this institution would eventually turn him over to the Romans to be crucified - he still came to their aid:
"We are going up to Jerusalem," he [Jesus] said, "and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles..." (Mark 10:33)And even though many even wanted to do away with Jesus:
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:18)Jesus still considered himself their well-wisher. He was still ready to offer not only aid, but advice - as told the man, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."
Consider Jesus' mercy as we read those statements by Jesus condemning the teachings of these Jewish priests:
"For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:20)
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started! "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town." (Matt. 23: 23-35)These statements illustrate just how offensive these ecclesiastical Jewish priests and teachers were to Jesus with regard to their teachings and activities.
Notice that Jesus says above, "I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers."
Who are these "prophets and sages and teachers"?
These most certainly are Jesus' students such as James and Peter, who not only became great teachers after Jesus but were also pursued, persecuted and murdered just as Jesus predicted: "Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town."
The point is that while Jesus condemned this institution, and this institution would not only persecute him but also his students and disciples, he was still ready and willing to come to the aid of one of the leaders of the Jewish temple.
Now this is mercy. This is love.
Another very critical teaching of Jesus communicated through this event comes with the depiction of what happened when the girl was revived:
Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:55)What does "her spirit returned" mean? Here "spirit" is translated from the Greek word πνεῦμα (pneuma) which means, according to the lexicon, "the vital principal by which the body is animated."
And "returned" comes from ἐπιστρέφω (epistrephō), meaning "to cause to return, to bring back."
So Jesus was bringing back "the vital principal by which the body is animated" in this event.
This description illustrates with clarity what takes place at the time of death: The person ("the vital principal by which the body is animated") leaves the physical body. Jesus simply brought back that spirit-person, and that "returning" re-animated the physical body.
This "vital principal by which the body is animated" is our actual identity. The physical body is a vehicle that we - the spirit-person inhabiting the body - occupies for a temporary period.
This is confirmed by the now-millions of clinical death cases where the individual recalls rising up above their physical body in the hospital and observing their body from above - while their body lay unconscious (uh, dead actually) with eyes closed on the hospital bed. Then as their body is revived, they experience returning to the physical body.
Jesus taught that we are not the physical body
And we know from this Biblical text in the Book of Luke that Jesus taught his disciples this very teaching - that we are not the physical body - we are the spirit-person which leaves the physical body at the time of death.
How do we know Jesus taught this to his disciples? Just consider, first, that this text is a recording of the event - this revival of the priest's girl. Who recalled and passed on and/or recorded this event? Consider this verse:
When 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. (Luke 8:51)This means that whoever described this event later had to be either the girl's parents or Peter, John or James. It is obvious from the narration - since it discusses the girl's parents in the second person - that it had to be one of these three disciples. And since the narration explains that, 'Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up,' we know this was Jesus' disciples' understanding of the event, confirming this was also what Jesus taught them.
We can understand this because one cannot physically see 'Her spirit returned' as a person is revived physically from being dead. If this were true, then all the doctors who revive people after dying would also see this taking place.
But they don't because the spirit-person is not perceivable with the physical eyes. It lies on another dimension. And for this reason, we can understand that this narration of the event: 'Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up' indicates that this was part of Jesus' teachings.
Certainly we know that all of Jesus' confidential teachings to his students and disciples were not revealed in the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These provide only a sliver of Jesus' teachings. While these cover many of Jesus' open teachings to the public while he used many parables, Jesus' confidential teachings to his disciples and students were just that: confidential.
Yet we can still find evidence of this teaching concerning our identity elsewhere among Jesus' teachings. Consider these statements:
"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matt. 26:41 and Mark 14:38)Jesus' own identity is being defined as spirit, separate from his body:
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (Matt. 27:50)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)Jesus also confirmed that God is spiritual in essence:
"God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the spirit and in truth." (John 4:24)These statements indicate that we - the children of God - are of the same nature as God: We are not God, but we are spiritual in essence. And we are not these physical bodies. We occupy them temporarily.
Jesus taught that even demons are spirit-persons, and they also can occupy the physical body:
"When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.'" (Luke 11:24)These all illustrate another realm of existence the physical eyes do not perceive.
Why can't we see the soul?
Because our physical eyes were not designed to see into the subtle planes of the ghost dimension let alone into the spiritual realm. Why?
It is because we want to avoid our actual identity - our spiritual identity. We wanted to forget our real identity. This wanting to forget our identity is not exclusive to not seeing into the spiritual realm. It is a typical feature among most of us living in the physical world.
Just consider a person who becomes intoxicated by taking drugs or alcohol. Why do people become intoxicated? Because they want to escape reality. They are seeking to escape from the realities of the world around us.
Drugs and alcohol and other means of escape allow us to pretend we are what we are not. The senses become dulled, allowing self-centered focus. We can forget our responsibilities and pretend we are the center of the universe. Addiction specialists will readily admit this as well - the desire to escape is the at the core of addiction.
But this tendency to want to escape reality is not exclusive to those who drink or do drugs. All of us try to escape reality in one form or another. This is why we go to movies and watch TV and play video games. This is why we go to parties and dances and baseball games and hockey games. We go to these events or watch these events to escape reality. We want to lose ourselves in something so that we can forget, at least for a few moments, our responsibilities, our particular aches and pains, and the reality of our physical lives.
This is so easy for us - escaping reality - because this is what our physical existence is all about. Basically the entire reason we are here in this physical world is because we are escaping our true reality of existence. We are escaping spiritual reality. Why?
Because our spiritual nature opposes what we currently desire. We want to be the boss - the hero - the president - the famous rock star - the famous movie star - whatever role it is - we essentially want to be king. We want to have everyone love us and have many followers and fans. We want to be the superstar. The boss. The legend. The greatest.
The problem is we are not. Our spirit-person's nature is one of love. Of giving. Of service. Our spirit-person self is not a superstar or hero. Our spirit-person self is a simple servant.
A servant of whom? A servant of the Supreme Being and His Associates. Yes, we are each servants. This is our spiritual identity. Our spiritual reality.
But that's not what we want. We don't want to be servant. We want to be boss. Hero. Star.
The Supreme Being knows this. This is why the Supreme Being created the physical world: For us to forget Him for awhile so we could chase around our self-centered desires.
Here in the physical world, we can play the boss. The hero. The star. The guru. Here we can play numerous roles, even the role of parent. Yes, we can even play creator (parent) here in the physical world.
But this is the perfect illusion, created by the Supreme Being. The physical world was created to convince us that we are these roles we are playing. But this, of course, requires us to forget who we really are. If we remembered who we really are, we couldn't really pretend we were these roles, could we?
We might compare it to how a movie set is arranged to convince the viewer that the events are real. The movie elegantly hides the various props and green screens - rendering images that are truly convincing to any movie-goer.
Yes, the Supreme Being has created an awesome realm of illusion here. While there is physical evidence all around us regarding our identity as spirit - such as clinical death and the fact that this body is always changing - we choose to be convinced that we are these temporary physical bodies.
Even though a person who loses his arm or legs or both is still considered the same person - we still think that we are these bodies.
Even though we see our body age from a baby body to an elderly body - we still think we are these bodies.
Even though we know scientifically that every atom and molecule in the body is recycled within five years - we still think we are these physical bodies.
Even though we can look at a dead body and find no physical particle missing from when the body was alive - we still think we are these bodies.
Yes, this is truly an illusion.
But it is an illusion supported by ourselves. We want to think we are these physical bodies because we wanted to get away from our real selves. We wanted to escape from God. We wanted to get away from our responsibilities as one of His servants. We wanted to escape from the notion that we are servants rather than the boss. Or the star. Or the hero.
So why can't we just get out? Why can't we just give God a call and say "I'm ready to come home now"?
Because we are not ready. As long as we still want to be the boss, star, hero, rock star, president, guru, business tycoon or so many other temporary roles in this world - we are not ready to return to our position as one of the Supreme Being's loving servants.
We cannot return to our identity as one of God's servants because we are too busy trying to reach His position. You see, God is the real star, the hero, the boss and so on. This is the meaning of God. This is the meaning of Supreme Being.
Many of us will even directly admit our desire to be God. There are so many teachers today that are preaching this philosophy of "I am God." Why? Because they admit they want to be God. They want to be the Supreme Being and they want everything and everyone around them to be their subjects.
So instead of seeing reality the way it is, and understanding that we have no control - we cannot control the weather, other people, and so on - they pretend that they created everything and all this misery around us is a figment of their imagination. It is only happening because they created it that way.
Well then, why can't they get out? Why can't they turn things around and make the world perfect then? I'm sure they want to. They talk like they want to. And why do they even need to teach us anything if they are God and we are all God as they teach?
Can God forget He is God?
They teach: We are all God and we just forgot we are God.
How does God forget that He is God? That would make forgetfulness more powerful than the Supreme Being - a contradiction of terms.
Because we are not God. And they are not God. We might pretend we are, but we have virtually no control over anything. How could we be God if we don't have any control?
It is a ridiculous assertion - that we are God and we forgot that we are God and we don't have any power now but if we just realized that we are God we could regain that power.
No. God is always God. He is the Supreme Being. He never forgets. And we are His subjects. He created us. This makes us subordinate to Him.
So why doesn't He just make us be good servants and make us return to Him? Why does He allow some of us to become rebellious?
This is called freedom. Love requires freedom. Love requires the ability to choose not to love. Not to serve.
And love is one of God's pastimes - receiving love from us is something He enjoys. If we had no choice to love Him or not, loving Him and serving Him would bring Him no pleasure.
So in order to love Him we have to have the ability to not only not love Him, but exert the opposite emotion: Envy.
And that is what we have become: Envious of God. Those of us in the physical world have become envious of the Supreme Being. We want to be Him. This is why we each desire to be the boss, the hero, the star, the guru.
He gave us an illusory world where we could pretend to be Him for a while. This is the physical world.
But in order to make the physical world 'stick' He had to block the exits. In order to complete our illusion He had to create the mental and physical roadblocks to prevent our realization of ourselves as spirit-persons, because if we realized our true nature as spirit-persons, we'd realize we are God's servants. And this is precisely what we are trying to escape from.
This might be compared to why the movie theaters darken the theater during the movie. To boost the illusion of the movie - they darken the room so we can more easily ignore the reality that the theater is just a room full of chairs and people chomping on popcorn.
So God is granting our wish to escape from Him. The various species of life are precisely created to provide a particular illusory escape from our real identity. They are each costumes perfectly designed to allow us to forget who we are, and immerse ourselves in particular roles. They allow complete immersion - like the perfect movie theater.
But the human form of life - this is the escape hatch. The human form of life has the ability to allow us to change. It has the ability to perceive God's existence, and perceive our real identity.
But the human form also allows us a complete and perfect choice. It still guards the exits so to speak by not allowing our eyes or physical senses the ability to "see" into the spiritual realm. This allows us to deny our identity and God's existence completely.
But for those of us who decide we want to return home to our loving relationship with the Supreme Being - the physical world is built with enough suffering and challenges to provide the incentives to want to change.
And change is the key that unlocks the exit doors. A change of heart is necessary to resume our spiritual identity as one of God's loving servants. How do we have such a change of heart?
This is what Jesus is speaking of when he said, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."
"Believe" what? Whom?
Jesus is not asking them to "believe" in him - because he was standing in front of them.
Here the word "believe" comes from πιστεύω (pisteuō), which essentially means to "have confidence in" - or trust. Jesus is telling him to trust the Supreme Being. To rely upon God.
Once we begin to rely upon God - trust in Him - we begin our exit from the physical world and our desires to lord it over everything and everyone. Once we embrace this path - of trusting God and relying on God - we begin to embrace our true nature.
A change of heart is not an instantaneous moment for most of us. For most of us, it is a path - a gradual process of change.
But should we want to have this change of heart - and want to return to the loving arms of the Supreme Being - He will guide us back to Him. This guidance means the physical world will be aligned to test us - to show us how we need to change. To challenge our feelings that we are ready. That we are capable. Why?
Immersion back into the spiritual realm requires we become completely reliant upon the Supreme Being. Everything requires His involvement, and we seek Him in our lives at every moment. This is our natural condition. It also happens to be the lessons the physical world deliver to us - which are accelerated when we ask (pray) to return home to Him.
It can be a difficult journey at times but it is necessary for this complete change of heart. We have to throw off lifetimes of self-centeredness, and desires. All those ugly parts of us - the envy, the greed and so on. Those all have to be gradually cleansed as we exercise the devotional practices given to us - praying to God, making offerings to God, praising God's Holy Names.
These practices help cleanse us and prepare us for the exit, so when we - the spirit-person - leave this physical body we don't have to return to the physical world. We are prepared to return home to the spiritual world; and that loving service relationship with God that accomplishes the fulfillment we are perpetually seeking. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)