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TEXT: Mark 5:21-43
SUBJECT: Mark #9: Two Resurrections
Today, with God's blessing, we will continue our study of Mark's Gospel. The second half of chapter five is both a climax of what came before it and a hint of better things to come. What's it about? Life from the Dead.
The theme should not surprise us because the stories are in the Bible, and Life from the Dead is what the Bible is about. Think about it. In chapters one and two of the Bible, we have the world brimming with life, plant, animal, and human life-all sharing in the Life of God.
In chapter three the True Life of God was lost to the world, not because He took it away from us, but because Adam and Eve rejected it in favor of the phony life Satan offered them in its place. This might have been the end of the story, but it wasn't, because God did not leave things as they were. That very day, He set about restoring the Life we lost and He will keep it up until the Life forfeited in Eden is regained for the whole universe-
The whole creation groans and labors in birth pangs until now-Paul says, and not in vain, for-the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
'Corruption' stands for slow decay wearing out our bodies now, and the fast rot that will set in when we die. We and the world around us are not destined for decay; we are chosen for Life! Not the weak and dying thing we call 'life', but the Genuine Article-the Life of the Resurrection!
The cosmic hope sounds like wishful thinking, if not delusion, but it is neither-and we know it isn't, because we've seen it in miniature.
This brings us to the two stories in Mark 5:21ff. The main character is our Lord Jesus Christ, and what He does in both stories is raise the dead. This caps off the healing miracles He has already performed and anticipates another dead Person coming to Life near the end of Mark's Gospel (If you don't know who, listen up and I'll tell you in a few minutes).
The story takes place in a village on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee. Mark doesn't tell us which town it is, but Capernaum seems most likely. If so, this is a place where Jesus is well known, is loved by many, but hated by the people who count.
For some time now, the leading citizens have been plotting His death. One of the leaders was a man called Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. At one time, he may have agreed with his colleagues, but not now. Need has forced him to re-think Jesus.
Rudolf Bultmann was the leading New Testament scholar of the Twentieth Century. He did not believe in the miracles of the Bible, and spent a long career teaching they did not 'really happen'. But then, something happened to Rudolf Bultmann: he got sick, and suddenly, the healing stories that sounded so naïve to a healthy professor started ringing true to a feeble old man. Need forced him to re-think Jesus.
I wouldn't wish illness on my worst enemy; disease is a great evil. But it is better to be a sick man who feels his need of Christ that a well man who doesn't. The same is true of illnesses of the soul-Publicans and prostitutes get into the kingdom before the Pharisees do. Because 'bad people' think they need Him and good people think they're fine without Him.
Whatever medical cause pushed the dear man to Christ, the deeper cause was God's love. In sending the emergency his way, the Lord was also sending Christ. This is not 'preacher-talk'; men and women in this room can vouch for what I say-
This light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working in us an eternal weight of glory.
Jairus' problem was a serious one: his daughter, a young lady twelve years old, was home in bed with a life-threatening illness. Her danger is exposed in her father's every word and action. A great multitude is gathering around the Lord, but the man pushes through them-he's got to get to Jesus and got to get there now!
When he reaches them, he fell at his feet. Jairus was a dignified man, and men of that ilk are not prone to beg in public-but he did just that-because his daughter was so dear to him and her only hope was in Jesus.
He begged earnestly the verse said-and wouldn't take 'no' or 'maybe', or 'later' for an answer. Jesus just had to come-and right now, for there was no time to spare-My little daughter lies at the point of death.
The man's love for his daughter was good and his humility to sacrifice his own dignity for her life was commendable, but Mark doesn't bring these things to the fore. What he finds best about the man is his faith in Christ-
Come and lay your hands on her that she may be healed-and she will live.
Like pastors and priests today, rabbis were often called in to pray for the sick. But has anyone ever said to me or a colleague of mine-'If you pray for her, she'll live'? Never! This is what the man says to Jesus; he has no doubt the Lord can heal his daughter.
Without delay, our Lord goes off with the man to save the sick girl. The more polite people in town, and the less needy, step aside to let Him through.
Not everyone, though, has good manners. People are still jostling to get a look at Jesus or to touch him. One of whom has.female problems-
A flow of blood for twelve years.
Her medical problem was not as urgent as the girl's, but it was every bit as serious. Unhealed by Jesus, she too, would soon die-probably not today, but soon enough. The problem was twelve years old, and though treated by doctors, it only got worse with time, and after spending all her money on medical care, she had none left.
This is a part of her story, but remember, the Jews back in the First Century did not see everything the way we do. This bloody discharge of hers was a medical issue but-mostly-it was a spiritual problem.
If you read Leviticus 15, you'll see the woman's flow made her 'unclean'-not 'sinful', but unclean in a ritual way. Here's what it did to her: (1) it barred her from the Temple, (2) it excluded her from the annual feasts, (3) it pushed her away from other people, and (4) it made everything she touched unclean.
From a ceremonial point of view, it cut her off from the Life of God and His People. Though physically still alive, for twelve years, she had been spiritually dead, and had no more hope than the dead.
Except in Jesus.
Mark tells us what she was thinking. God may have inspired him to know, but more likely, he knew the woman and she told him what was going through her mind at the time-
If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.
Some take this for superstition, as though the hem of His garment had power in itself-like a magician's wand. I don't think so, for once again, what Mark sees in it is faith in Jesus-the same faith Jairus had.
It's not easy for a sickly woman to push her way through a crowd, but she does, and, touching the hem of His garment-
Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
She wasn't better; she was well, and-more than well-she was alive! For the first time in twelve years, she was included in the Life of God and His People. Everything that barred her access to God was removed, and all through the Lord Jesus Christ.
This might be the end of her story, but it isn't, because she is not the only one who felt something-
And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?'
The disciples are thunderstruck. Hundreds of people had touched His clothes, and now, when speed is of the essence, He stops to inquire, 'Who did it?' (I wonder what Jairus made of it all? Was he still humble and trusting? Or was he exasperated and demanding? Mark doesn't say, but I bet we all know what he was).
Frankly, the Lord doesn't care what the man thought or His disciples either. He still wants to know-
Who touched my clothes?
There He waits. With a girl's life ebbing away from her, Jesus stands there till the one who touched Him admits what he or she did.
Why doesn't the lady step forward? You'd think she would want to, but she doesn't. Why doesn't she? Because she was scared. Like Jairus, she believed in Christ, but her faith was weak, and she could only wonder if He would disapprove of what she did, and curse her, for-as she read the Law-her touch had made Him unclean.
She hadn't, of course, because nothing can separate Him from God and His People. Jesus cannot be made unclean or lost to death. The defiling and decaying things of this world have no authority over Him-they cannot make Him unclean and they cannot make me dead! As we learned, last time, from the calming of the sea and the casting out of Legion-
Jesus is Lord.
Fighting off her fears, the woman falls on her face, and-
Told Him the whole truth.
When she fesses up to what she's done, she finds her fears entirely unfounded. Instead of being mad at her for 'defiling' Him with her uncleanness or keeping Him from His work, Jesus sends her away with His blessing-
Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.
Rabbis often called Jewish women, 'daughters', even if they were old enough to be their mothers. This may be all the Lord means, but I wonder if there's not more to it? You see, not only did rabbis do it, but so did kings, who, like George Washington, were thought of as 'fathers of their country'. The word, therefore, may well have been a subtle way of telling people who He is-
Wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace.
If He is the King, it was He who healed her, but He didn't do it magically. His blessings to her-like the ones to us-came through her faith. This lays the groundwork for Paul's great summary of where our blessings come from and how they come to us-
For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
It was a public conversation our Lord and the lady had, and good thing too, for someone else's faith would soon be tested to the breaking point.
No sooner does the Lord turn back to Jairus, than some friends show up with bad news-
Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?
Jairus had faith; he said so at the beginning of our story. But how far does his trust in Christ go? Or, better yet, how trustworthy is Christ? Can He be counted on in life only? Or also in death?
Jairus didn't know. In life, yes, He can be trusted? But, death? Who knows? The Lord sees his fear and pushes it back with an implied promise-
Do not be afraid; only believe.
RAISED TO LIFE
This was as hard for the man as it is for us. We trust in Jesus, but then someone we love dies, and we wonder if he's as lost to Jesus as he is to us.
Let's see. The people are sent away, for the most part. Only Peter, James, John, and the girl's parents' are still with the Lord. When they get to the house, it is upside down with sorrow.
Jesus says, 'Enough!'-
The child is not dead, but sleeping.
The family's tears turn to bitter mockery-
They laughed Him to scorn.
It seems that death and its mourners will have the last laugh, but our Lord knows better. In Luther's great hymn-
The victory remains with Life,
The reign of death is ended.
Is it? Or do the beautiful words do nothing more than comfort those fool enough to believe them?
With the parents and the disciples around her deathbed, the Lord takes the girl by the hand and says, in Aramaic-
'Little girl, get up'. That's how Mark translates the words, and of course, he's right. But Talitha is only a nickname for 'girl'; what it really means is, "little lamb'.
Parents called their daughters, 'Little Lamb', and Jesus, taking a fatherly concern for her, speaks to the girl as though He is her father. Still, I wonder if the other meaning of the word should be waved off? I wonder if in calling her His Lamb, He wasn't also saying something about Himself, something like..
The Lord is my shepherd.Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.
Israel's Shepherd can be trusted in the Dark! And He is Jesus, whose trustworthiness outlives this life and ends in the Life of God.
The disciples and the parents were –
Overcome with great amazement.
But the Lord tells them be quiet for now. Soon, they'll shout it from the rooftops, but at the moment, they must keep it to themselves. Why would He do this? Raising the dead is a magnificent work of God and everybody ought to know about it.
Before long, they will. But the Resurrection they need to hear of first, is not the kind done this day, for it's not worthy of the word, 'Resurrection', for the only life the girl got back was the one she lost.
The True Resurrection will come in a year or two, when a dead Man comes back to Life, but not the life He once had, but Eternal Life. That Man is Jesus, who was on the wrong side of death then, but now, He's on the right side of it.
To show how inferior this great work is to the one to come, the chapter ends with the hum-drum detail-
Give her something to eat.
She still needs to eat because her health is as fragile as ever. But one day, the girl whose body was then mortal, will be raised immortal.
And not she alone, but all who believe in Christ whose Savior He is in life and death and the Life to Come.
HOW CAN WE BELIEVE?
How can we believe all this? We're not stupid people-no more than others, I mean. How can we believe a little girl died-really died-and was brought back to life by the words of Christ?
We can say we believe it because the Bible says so, and that's right, it does and we can. Some of us can say we believe it because our parents taught us when we were little, and we believe them. This is also good.
The real reason we believe the girl was raised to Life is because we have experienced the same Life ourselves. We used to be dead-Dead in trespasses and sin, Paul says, and God-
Made us alive together with Christ.
He really did that for us and we really know He did. Maybe we cannot craft an argument to convince others, but we can't come up with one to prove we're alive physically either. Maybe it's all a dream, maybe nothing is real. But we know better.
We know we're alive physically-whether we can prove it or not-and we Christians know we're alive spiritually. Because Christ is alive-and whether we can prove it or not-He is, and we invite you to join us in His Life.
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