“While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples” (Matthew 9:18-19).

While Jesus was answering the disciples of john about fasting, just then a great, heart-laden prayer burst upon His startled ear. Elijah taught us that other gods might be so busy they could not hear the cry of their devotees. He spoke this in mockery that the god was on a journey, or sleeping, or so busy that he could not answer. Jesus was never so busy that He could not answer any question and, in proportion as that question was acute, arising from the heart’s burning agony, would interrupt the matter at hand. These are things that show His divine quality, rising above simply being a good man. Now He stands before us as God, so much so that if a man said “My Lord and my God,” not a heart around would feel shocked. Yet He appears to be Servant as well as Master for He rises and follows the man, as if He had no alternative. He never has an alternative when the heart really wants Him. A heart may indeed send Him away, but when the broken heart needs Him, He always answers. To the soul who seeks Him by intelligence or who invites Him into their fancy or imagination, and to all Herods and Pilates who tempt Him by their intellectual curiosity, Jesus answers nothing. But when a man’s eyes are upon the dust, whose hand is upon his heart, and who sobs rather than says his eager prayer, Jesus will come. Jesus hears the ruler’s unspoken prayer, for it had a subtle undertone that touched His heart. If the child is dead, why call her back from glory? But the living man was also dead. The house had become a ghastly tomb; the house had shaped itself in its ghost’s faces—Jesus went for the living man’s sake. So wondrous is His mercy that sometimes those who are in heaven have to be called back again.

Adapted from “In His Presence”