Jesus’ Power Over Death (Mark 5:21-24 & 35-43)

Sunday, November 25th, 2012
Sermon Series: Mark

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The Gospel of Mark

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Jesus’ Power over Death

The gospel of Mark 5:21 to 24, 35 to 43–raising a 12-year-old from the dead

 

He’s a preacher of the old school, but he speaks as boldly as ever.  He’s not popular, though the world is his parish.  He travels to every part of the globe and speaks in every language.  He visits the poor, calls upon the rich, preaches to people of every religion and of no religion, and the subject of his sermon is always the same.

He’s an eloquent preacher, often stirring feelings which no other preacher could, and bringing tears to eyes that never weep.  None are able to refute his arguments, nor is there any heart that has remained unmoved by the force of his appeals.  He shatters life with his message.  Most people hate him–everyone fears him.  What is his name?  Death.

Every tombstone is his pulpit, every newspaper prints his text, and someday every one of you will be his sermon.  Every one of us will face death.  One of the great advantages of the Christian is we know someone who’s been dead, who has beat death, and has power over death itself.

Take your outline and open your Bibles to Mark chapter 5.  If you’ve been with us, you know that Chapter 4:35 through chapter 5 contains four miracles performed by our Lord that display the omnipotent, almighty, compassionate power of God the Son.

In Chapter 4:35 to 41, Christ demonstrates His Power over the Deep

In 5:1 to 20, Christ proved His Power over the Demoniac legion

In 5:21 to 34, Christ showed His Power over Disease

and now in 5:35 to 43, Christ proves His Power over Death itself

There were two miracles mixed together at the end of chapter 5—a diseased woman, and now the dead daughter of Jairus.  One woman is grown, the other is young, and both are incurably ill and desperate–the woman for twelve years, and the 12-year-old recently.  The woman was bankrupt from the doctors who couldn’t cure her, and Jairus was wealthy and his daughter was loved and cared for.  Yet both experienced the wideness of Christ’s love and mercy.

Most of us could recite a long list of those we know who have recently suffered painful illness, serious accident, loss of a loved one, break-up of a family, or some other tragedy.  Children have lost a mother, parents have lost a child or are watching him daily grow weaker from a debilitating disease.  Many people suffer continual pain for which even the strongest medicine has lost its effectiveness.  Others face long months and years of rehabilitation as they seek to adjust their lives to the loss of limb, sight, hearing, or motor function.  The Bible tells us our Lord deeply cares about these infirmities.

In John 11, when Mary came out to meet Jesus as He was approaching Bethany after the death of Lazarus, John reports that when He “saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled.”  Jesus Himself wept–and, “again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb.”  As a sympathizer beyond anything we can imagine, Jesus was deeply grieved because He can clearly and completely see the pain and power of sin.

Sin was not God’s purpose for man.  All things in the world were created for the good and blessing of man, but sin corrupted that goodness and blessing, and brought a curse instead.  But in God’s time, sin one day will run its course and be forever destroyed.  Jesus’ miracles are proof of His divine might, which one day will reverse the curse and restore righteousness, harmony, and peace to all of His creation, including us.

Yet even though Jesus had great compassion on the suffering and afflicted people who came to Him, He did not heal, cleanse, or raise their dead simply for their own sakes.  He performed those miracles to prove His deity–Jesus is God, and to establish His credentials as the predicted coming Messiah.  Like Isaiah prophesied 700 years before Christ in Isaiah 35:5 and 6, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.”

A Canadian scientist, G. B. Hardy once said, “When I looked at religion, I said, ‘I have two questions.  One, has anybody ever conquered death, and two, if they have, did they make a way for me to conquer death?’

“I checked the tomb of Buddha, and it was occupied, and I checked the tomb of Confucius and it was occupied, and I checked the tomb of Mohammed and it was occupied, and I came to the tomb of Jesus and it was empty.  And I said, ‘There is one who conquered death.’  And I asked the second question, ‘Did He make a way for me to do it?’  And I opened the Bible and discovered that He said, “Because I live, you shall live also.”’”

There are three scenes ahead of us in these verses that show us the power and compassion of Christ over death, which will strengthen your faith and grow your love.  These begin with . . .

#1  A DESPERATE PLEA  Verses 21 to 24  Look for help from Christ alone

Verse 21, “When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore.”  The crowd surrounds Jesus almost immediately as He arrives back in Capernaum–like bees around honey.  It is so crowded, He has to stay by the seashore.

This reaction may actually have come as a result of the other boats that followed Christ into the storm, returned home and let everyone know that Jesus actually controls storms.  Jesus has the ability to control the weather.  That’s why Luke adds that the crowd received Jesus gladly.

But look what happens next in verse 22–one of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet.  Jesus meets Jairus–a religious leader, a ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum.  He would’ve been a man of great devotion to God, morally respectable, as well as a figure of wealth and social prominence.  Luke adds that Jairus is the head official of the synagogue, the highest ranking religious official in the region, much esteemed and very powerful.  He ran the worship services, oversaw the weekly school, distributed money to the poor, and cared for the synagogue building.  He might have even been a Pharisee–but if not, he definitely associated closely with the Pharisees.

Yet as soon as Jesus returns, Jairus makes eye contact seeing Him with the Lord, and this powerful official approaches Christ, and shocking everyone, falls right at the Lord’s feet.  He fell at His feet.  That moment would have caused the crowd to gasp.  Show me what that gasp sounds like–gasp on three . . . 1,2,3, “GASP.”

This is political suicide for Jairus, but it didn’t matter to him.  This was also financial suicide for him since he will most likely lose his position over this act of humility, but he didn’t care about that.  He didn’t come at night, like Nicodemus did–which is, by the way, where we get the phrase, “Nick at Night”.  No, in front of all, Jairus bows down low before Jesus.

To fall at Christ’s feet means Jairus was bowing down.  “To fall” is a Greek word used for worship–to kiss the feet, or kiss the hem of the Lord’s garment, to even kiss the ground in front of Christ.  This man is forsaking his dignity–he has no pride.  He’s no longer prejudiced against Christ–why?  He’s desperate.  Need was driving Jairus–Christ is his last resort.  Jairus is convinced no one can help him now except Christ.

Faith was also driving Jairus.  He knew Jesus had the power to do what he was asking.  He’d seen Christ firsthand in Mark 3 heal a withered hand, in his own synagogue, and obviously he’d seen other proofs of Christ’s amazing power to heal in Capernaum.  He has faith.  So what did Jairus say to Christ?  Verse 23, “And implored Him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.’”

This is a gut-wrenching scene–if we’d been close enough to see him on the ground in front of Christ, to hear the sob of his heart, there’d be many of us here crying in empathy.  Do you hear his heart here?  “And implored Him earnestly, saying”–implore is to intensely beg Him to do something.  Earnestly is a great, heart-wrenching, emotional plea, and all of it is present tense, repeated many times.

What’s his brokenhearted plea?  Verse 23, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.”  His little girl is as good as dead.  The language he uses is clear, she’s going to die–it’s certain, unless Jesus comes right now.

And can you hear his tenderness?  My little daughter–it must have been with tears.  My little girl is at the point of death.  Jairus might have delayed to ask for help until it was almost too late.  There might have been a fearful, tearful discussion between father and mother, debating whether he should go to see Christ, but finally his little girl’s closeness to death stopped all debate.

Nothing mattered now, except to save my baby girl.  “My daughter” communicates deep affection.  All children are special, but little girls own the heart of their fathers.  Jairus says, “My little daughter,” Luke adds, “It’s my only daughter,” Jairus’ only little girl.  And as seen through this father’s eyes, she’s my precious jewel, my special beauty, my little girl.

I loved how Tracy Dodson told us how Chris, her dad, used to stop her coming down the stairs, make her go back up and walk back down just to marvel at her beauty–his precious little girl.  And this little girl was twelve years old, which meant she had now arrived at the beginning of her womanhood.  For our culture, sixteen or eighteen or twenty–but to the first century Jews, boys were considered men and marriage-ready at thirteen.  And girls were considered women and marriage-ready at twelve.

Jairus had enjoyed twelve years of laughter, sunshine, memories and music from his precious little flower.  And now on the eve of her womanhood, her life is withering away.  Jairus tells us, verse 23, she’s at the point of death.  The final stage, her breathing is beginning to rattle–they all know she’ll die soon.  So this father’s plea in verse 23–please come and lay your hands on her so that she will get well and live.  It’s like he’s saying, “I’ve seen you heal others before, Jesus–lay your hands on her and she’ll get well and live.”

The word “live” is actually saved–used of salvation, keeping, preserving, delivering and making safe from danger.  Unless you heal her, Jesus, she is most certainly going to die.  A desperate request, and with it you see a measure of faith.  He doesn’t ask, “Can you heal her?”  But, “Will you heal her?”

He believed Christ could heal his daughter, if Jesus just laid hands on her–just like the leper was touched and cured in Mark 1:40 and 41, “And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’”

Jesus always responds to desperate pleas–His compassion moves Him to help those in trouble, with no human resources left, those who know there’s no other way.  So verse 24, “And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.”  Imagine Jairus’ excitement–there’s hope for my dying daughter.  Yet his insides must be churning with fear that they’ll be too late.  So Jesus, Jairus and the disciples hurry away toward Jairus’ home.  But they’re hindered by the following crowd, who’re eager to see another miracle.

The crowd is filled with the curious, the critical and culpable.  It’s made up of those who want to see what is going to happen next, others who are looking to find fault in order to accuse Christ, and still others who are guilty, needy and desperate themselves.  So Jesus is slowly pressing His way through the throng with a distressed man who has made a desperate plea, expressing his deepest need.  What happened?  They were delayed–another desperate person was in need, verse 25 to 34, a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, that we studied last week.  She touched Jesus in faith and was healed.  Jesus stopped to look for her to come forward and tell Him everything, which she did.

Dr Timothy Keller asks these questions from His commentary on Mark …

Can you feel Jairus’ anxiety while all this is happening?  Did you catch the disciples’ irritation, plus Jesus’ patience and composure?  The woman with a chronic condition is getting attention instead of a little girl who has an acute condition.  Jesus chooses to stop and talk with the woman who has just been healed.  This makes no sense at all–it is irrational.  In fact, you could say it’s worse than that–its malpractice.

If these two were in the same emergency room, any doctor who treated the woman first and let the little girl die would be sued.  Jesus is behaving like a reckless doctor.  Jairus and the disciples must be thinking, “What are you doing?  Do you understand the situation?  Hurry up or it will be too late!  My little girl needs help from you now, Jesus–please hurry!”  But Jesus will not be hurried.  As He’s standing there talking with this woman, the thing that Jairus feared most happens.

#2  A DEATH PRONOUNCEMENT  Verse 35 to 40  Depend on Christ when desperate

All the father’s worst fears have just come true–his hopes are crushed, and his worst nightmare has been realized.  Verse 35, “While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, ‘Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?’”

While Jesus is speaking to the woman who’s just been healed, some folks come from Jairus’ own house and tell him his daughter is dead.  Imagine how Jairus feels–in a moment, his heart has traveled from the hope of potential life, to the despair of certain death.  The horrifying reality, the crushing grief all fall upon Jairus with a blunt, “your daughter has died.”  Then to add to his grief, and perhaps with a tone of disapproval for asking Jesus in the first place, they add, “Why trouble the Teacher anymore?”

She’s dead–maybe if you all had not stopped along the way.  Maybe if you had not waited to the last moment to ask for help.  Maybe . . . could have . . . what if . . . why didn’t you . . . regrets fill the mind of the father with this harsh statement.  But never give up, Christian–with Christ there is always hope.

Verse 36, “But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, ‘Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.’”  Even in the press of the crowd, Jesus hears what is being said, and Mark tells us in Greek that Jesus hears but ignores them.  He does not own what they’re saying–the Lord is literally blowing them off.  They don’t know what they’re talking about.  Who you gonna listen to–your friends or your God?

To overhear in verse 36 actually means to disregard what they’re saying–Jesus interrupts those telling Jairus his daughter has died mid-sentence, and compassionately gives two commands to Jairus . . .

#1  Do not be afraid, and

#2  Only believe

Like any dad here who loves his daughter, fear had gripped Jairus’ heart–so the Lord says, “Don’t give into it!”  Fear was the same concern Jesus had for His disciples in the boat.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  Fear refuses to trust God.  Only believe, or believe alone!  In essence, Jesus says to Jairus, “Trust me, be patient–there’s no need to hurry.”

Dr Timothy Keller adds these thoughts from His commentary on Mark…

Every culture has a different sense of time.  Western culture is very structured, whereas many African and Hispanic cultures only think of relationship, not task or time.  At FBC, we seem to have a lot of foreign thinking when it comes to being on time to church.  But for all believers, God’s sense of timing will confound ours, no matter what culture we’re from.  His grace rarely operates according to our schedule.

When Jesus looks at Jairus and says, “Trust, be patient,” in effect, Jesus is looking over Jairus’ head at all of us and saying, “Remember when I calmed the storm?  I showed you that my grace and love are compatible with going through storms, though you may not think so.  Well now I am telling you my grace and love are compatible with what seems to you to be unconscionable, unreasonable delays.”

It is not, “I will not be hurried even though I love you.”  In reality it is, “I will not be hurried because I love you.  I know what I’m doing!  And if you try to impose your understanding of schedule and timing on Me, you’ll struggle to feel loved by me.”  Jesus will not be hurried, and as a result we often feel exactly like Jairus—impatient, because He’s delaying here, and it feels irrational and unfair.

But now looking back, as we get to do this morning, we can see how Jairus got far more than he asked for.  A daughter not merely healed, but raised from the dead!  Be aware that when you go to Jesus for help, you will both give to and get from Him far more than you bargained for.  Jairus was now expected to trust Jesus for something no one had seen yet–not a healing, but a resurrection from the dead.  Be patient, because the Lord’s dealings often don’t work out the way you expect.

So Jesus commands, “Do not be afraid, and believe—only believe.”  True faith is not just an intellectual exercise, but an expectant trust in Jesus, regardless of your circumstances–not a decision, but a direction, not a routine but a relationship, not a principle but a person.  And the verb is continue to believe.  The faith shown by Jairus in coming to Christ for a healing was to continue–just like yours in coming to Christ is to continue.

What happened?  Verse 37, “And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James.”  Jesus dismissed the crowd, and all of His disciples but three–why three?  Maybe it was because Peter later confesses Christ’s identity as God’s only Son, John presents Christ as God in His gospel, and James is the first to shed blood as a martyr esteeming Christ as God–maybe?

Maybe it was because these three were the leaders of the twelve, and would share with the rest of the disciples later.  Possibly only three to protect the family from curious crowds later, or to protect Christ from requests to raise their dead family members.  Or Christ was not into showing off, so just a few will do.  Or the reason is as simple as, there wasn’t enough room where she was lying dead for more than three disciples, Jesus, Jairus and his wife.

Maybe it was just to keep things simple, since this was already a chaotic situation.  Look at verse 38, “They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing.”

Commotion is a loud noise–there’s a clamor of people wailing loudly.  This is the opposite of our culture.  Our typical approach to funerals is to be quiet, subdued, empathetic, sober and heavy—unless it’s the funeral of a super-solid Christian, then there’s celebration, joy and envy cause they’re in heaven and we’re not.  But their approach to a funeral was to be loud, wailing and shouting.  Show me what that sounded like.  In contrast to quiet western funerals, first century Jews would show grief in three clear ways . . .

ONE  They’d tear their clothes over their heart–women would only tear their undergarments for modesty, but the tear was big enough for a fist to fit through.

TWO  They’d hire professional mourners, groaners and howlers who would loudly wail the name of the one who just died.

THREE  They’d hire flute players who would play loud, disconcerting sounds meant to reflect emotional discord.

They’d make a lot of noise, and since Jairus was the highest ranking religious leader in Capernaum, and was no doubt a man of means, there must have been a large number of mourners and musicians at his daughter’s funeral, seeking to loudly communicate grief and sorrow.  In the midst of this normal, expected response to a death, Jesus rocks their world in verse 39, “And entering in, He said to them, ‘Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.’”

Whoa, horsey–why does He say this, because she really is dead?  Luke 8:53, “And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died.”  People knew she was dead, not “mostly dead”, but really dead–but never beyond the power of God incarnate.  So Jesus says his little girl was asleep–because her death is going to be reversed, undone, raised, to be alive again.

Just like Lazarus in John 11:11, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”  Then verse 14, “Jesus then said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’”

Lazarus was said to be asleep, but then Jesus says plainly he’s dead, because the Lord is going to reverse his death.  So now, Jesus is going to reverse the death of this little girl–she’s asleep.  She is not in a coma, she is not in a figurative death, but her dead status was not final or irreversible–just like Lazarus.

So how do the mourners react?  Verse 40, “They began laughing at Him.”  They shockingly, hypocritically, and rudely transition from loud weeping to laughing, which is a Greek word which pictures a sneering, mocking, harsh laughter.  How did that sound?  You can feel the insincerity of their weeping by how quickly they turned from phony mourning to sneering laughter.  Why does Mark include this comment here?  Simple–because they all knew she was really, genuinely, truly dead.

But our Lord hates hypocrisy in all its forms, so finish verse 40, “But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was.”  The Greek text is really strong here–it tells us Jesus Himself forcibly threw them out, like a restaurant owner He emphatically, on his part, tossed them out like a bouncer.  No need for hypocritical weepers or mocking, harsh laughers, because in a moment, this little girl is no longer going to be dead.  Why?  Because Jesus Christ is . . .

#3  A DYNAMIC PHYSICIAN  Verse 41 to 43  Have confidence in Christ’s ability

Christian, celebrate the total authority and power of your Lord.  Verse 41, “Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, ‘Talitha kum!’ (which translated means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’).”

Fathers, see yourself as heartbroken and your little girl as dead.  Then take your little girl’s hand and say, “Talitha kum.”  Mark records for us the exact words Jesus used–that’s an Aramaic term of endearment.  Feel His compassion as Jesus says, “Little one, get up.  Little lamb, arise. Sweetie, wake up.”  What a huge heart Christ has for children.  Jesus takes her by the hand, He touches a dead person–the Lord is not afraid of defilement.  He is concerned about love.  He touches her.

The Lord Jesus holds her hand, then once He speaks the words, what happens?  Verse 42, “Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old.”  She’s fully dead, and the moment Christ speaks, she’s fully alive.  The Greek verbs picture her jumping up to immediately start walking around, and kept walking around.  Like Mark 1:42, “Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.”  Or like Mark 2:12, “And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone.”  One moment this little girl is laying down–cold, ashen and not breathing.  Then instantly, color and warmth return, and she walks around.

I love the theology of this moment described in Luke 8:55, “And her spirit returned, and she got up immediately.”  We are made up of flesh and spirit, material and immaterial, body and spirit—dichotomous.  So her immaterial spirit returned to her material body, and she was once again alive.  Death is the separation of your spirit from your body, and Talitha just experienced the rejoining of spirit and body.

What a moment for the disciples.  But can you feel the hearts of Jairus and his wife burst with joy?  My little girl!  Verse 42 describes it this way, “And immediately they were completely astounded.”  They were in ecstasy.  Astounded means their entire being was overcome and saturated with amazement–speechless, in awe.  A moment ago my only daughter was DOA, lifeless, pale, no EKG.  There was no defibrillator, no medicine, no antibiotic, no blood transfusion, no surgery and no radiation that could help.  But one small phrase from Christ calling her back from the dead, and now she’s alive–totally well and completely cured.

Talk about an incredible day–commanding a stormy lake to instantly be like glass, casting out a legion of demons, instantly curing a woman diseased for twelve years, and now raising the dead.  Amid all the double-takes the disciples are giving Christ, they must start to put some things together about who this is.  Are you too?  Friends, nothing is too great for Jesus Christ–He is your Creator, the only God, the One you must answer to, and the One who provides the only answer.

Yet how does Christ respond?  Verse 43, “And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.”  The Lord closes this event with two commands . . .

ONE  Tell no one, and

TWO  Give her some food

Why tell no one?  Some possible reasons were, to keep the crowds from requesting the resurrection of their long dead loved ones, to allow the little girl to enter back into society without undo celebrity pressure or weirdness–who’s gonna want to marry the girl who was dead once (creepy)?  Plus, to keep people from responding to an external miracle of Christ and ignoring the internal message of Christ’s transforming Gospel.  Those who do not put their trust in Christ’s Word will not trust His deeds either.

And why give her some food?  To kick-start her body back into functioning properly.  And with the parents so utterly amazed, they may forget to feed their little girl who was so sick, then dead.  Finally, food is just another demonstration of the compassionate care of Christ over the little details of her life and yours.

Wow, the Lord Jesus Christ has just demonstrated absolute authority and omnipotent power over the DEEP, DEMONS, DISEASE and DEATH.  Jesus . . .

Calmed the storm in the Deep no fisherman could Control,

Cast out the Demoniac no man would Contain

Cured the Disease no doctor could Cure

Crumpled the Death no father could Curtail

How should we respond?

A  Turn to Christ–death is unavoidable, but second death is not

Christ will rapture some, but the rest of us are going to die.  The statistics are pretty strong–100% of people die.  You don’t automatically float up to heaven, friends.  God is not going to allow you in His presence as you are now.  You have to be perfect, and you are not perfect.  You need God to give you a perfect standing, and that can only come from Christ.  You give Christ your sin, and God gives you His perfect standing–His righteousness.

Will you suffer eternal torment in the second death forever in the lake of fire, or will you be rescued from the second death by putting your entire life and hope in Christ’s death on the cross on your behalf for your sins, so that you might be forgiven now and brought home to heaven with Christ forever?  Only those who exchange all of who they are for all of who Christ is will be saved.  Turn from your sin, your life, your way and depend on Christ, His life and His way right now.

B  Hope in Christ–and live without fear

In Christ, there’s no longer any reason to fear sickness, disease, demons, deformity, tragedy, or even death.  As believers, we can even rejoice in dying, because our Lord has conquered death.  Though we will not be brought back to this life, we’ll be raised to new life.  In Him is fullness of joy and life everlasting.

Death can strike any of God’s saints in unexpected, painful and seemingly senseless ways.  He does not promise to give explanations for such tragedies.  Instead, He gives the wondrous assurance in John 11:25 that, “He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.”  One writer said, “The funeral of a Christian is like a crowd of grieving caterpillars, all wearing black suits.  As they crawl along mourning their dead brother and carrying his cocoon to its final resting place, above them flutters an incredibly beautiful butterfly, looking down on them in utter disbelief.”

DEATH for a Christian is the DOOR to where we belong

DEATH is the door to the HOME we have not been to yet

DEATH is the door to the HOME our heart yearns for

Our HOPE is in CHRIST, and our HOME IS HEAVEN.

C  Wait on Christ–trust Him with all that’s happening

When you go to Jesus for help, you may end up being tested like Jairus.  He came to Christ for help, and Christ called Him to trust Him even after His daughter had died.  He was hoping Christ would come before His little girl died, but Christ took the test a step further by waiting, then expecting Jairus to trust Him with the impossible.

Friends, sometimes when you turn to Christ, the path may be even more difficult, but in the end God will be glorified and you will be blessed in ways beyond description.  Wait on Christ–trust Him with all that is happening in your life.  But you say, “God isn’t coming through–I don’t know why He’s delaying.”  Just like Christ did by healing the woman, and allowing the little girl to die.  Friends, you’re not God–you don’t know everything, nor have all power, nor perfect love, nor are all-wise.  Wait on the Lord.

D  Long for Christ–look forward to being with Him

Christ died for you so you would not have to be afraid of death.  Once a Bishop in Norway was asked by a believer about how to understand death for the Christian.  The Bishop responded by telling him this story.  “Well,” he said, “it’s like this.  Once there was a peasant, and the peasant had some things to take care of in another village.  So the next morning he said to his wife that he had to travel to this particular village to do his business, and that he would try to be back before nightfall.

“It was at this point that his little son said to him, ‘Father, may I go with you?’  Any father would be thrilled to take his son along for the day, so he said, ‘Of course,’ as he grasped his little hand, and off they went in the morning sun, headed for the village that was some distance away.

“As they walked, they came to a river.  Now the river was swollen because of recent rains, and the waters had washed away most of the bridge.  All that was left was were some pillars and pilings, and as a result the little boy was very fearful and said, ‘Father, we will never get across.’  The river was moving rapidly, but the father just looked at his son and said, ‘We’ll make it, son.  I’ll be very careful.  I’ll hold on to you very tightly and we’ll get across.’

“Grasping that little fellow by the wrist and holding on to him with the grip of a loving father, he began cautiously to pick his way from piling to piling, sometimes suspending the little guy over the torrent till he could lift him to the next place of safety until they made it across.  Once across, they went to the village and did their business–and when they were through, they started home.

“But as is so often the case, their business dealings took longer than expected, and it was already dark when they started their return trip.  This particular night there was no light from the moon, and the sky was filled with clouds, and as they walked along the trail through the forest towards the river in the darkness, the father heard the little fellow begin to cry.  He looked down and asked, ‘What’s wrong, son?’  And he said, ‘Father, we barely made it across the river in the light–we’ll never make it across in the dark.’  Without saying a word, he reached down and scooped the little fellow up and pressed him to his chest, and in a matter of moments he was sound asleep.

“The next thing he knew the little boy awoke, and found himself in his own house, in his own room, and in his own bed.  Sunlight was streaming through the windows, it was morning and his father was standing in the doorway smiling–he was home.”  The Bishop said to the believer, “You see, that’s what death is like for the Christian–what you fear you never experience.  You simply wake up, and you’re home.”

FBC, that is every Christian’s experience.  You see, death holds no fear if you are a Christian.  Death is only a gate through which you pass into eternal life, but only if you come God’s way, surrendering your life to Christ alone.  Let’s pray.

 

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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