God’s Guide to a Well-Lived Life: Jesus Has Power over Death (Mark 5:35-43)
God’s Guide to a Well-Lived Life
Where is the most beautiful place you have been, the most beautiful natural sight you have ever seen? In Michigan? In the United States? Outside the United States?
Romania has a lot of beautiful sights. While we were living there, we rented a car and took a vacation. We were driving through the Carpathian mountains and we had a picnic lunch and were looking for a nice place to stop and eat. Ana was a toddler; Jewell was a couple of years older. We finally found a really beautiful place. It was a little distance off the road, a broad flat grassy area beside a lake and mountains in the background. The picture I am showing on the Power Point is a different place in Romania - “Lacul Rosu” (“Red Lake”). We’ve been there too, but that’s not the place I’m describing for our picnic.
We laid out the blanket on the ground and started eating. We noticed off to the distance that there was a Romanian shepherd, with a trip (Yes, that’s the word for a group) of goats. Rachel started calling the goats. If you want to know how to call goats, Rachel will show you after worship. So she started calling the goats. And they started meandering over to us. Except, we're sitting there on a blanket eating a picnic lunch and the girls started getting nervous about the goats eating our lunch! So then Rachel had to start shooing them away; and she started throwing rocks (small rocks) at the goats to warn the goats away. Then I got nervous about making the shepherd upset that we’re throwing rocks at his goats! Anyway, the goats left us alone and there were no more incidents.
The most beautiful place you have ever seen pales in comparison to heaven. Do you believe that? How badly do you want to go? How strongly do you want to see Jesus?
We are studying “God’s Guide to a Well-Lived Life” from the gospel of Mark throughout the year 2021. Of course, God’s Guide to a well-lived life is Jesus Christ Himself. Follow Jesus. Imitate Jesus. Listen to Jesus. Obey Jesus. Today is the day the world has set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We celebrate that resurrection every single Lord’s Day; that’s the way the apostles taught the Christians in the first century and that best reflects our hope in a resurrection ourselves.
Along the lines of a resurrection, I want us to study the account when Jesus raised someone from the dead for the very first time: Mark 5. In the life of Jesus, there are healing miracles (lots of healing miracles) and exorcisms and calming a storm on the Sea of Galilee. But He has not yet raised someone from the dead. At least, not according to Matthew and Mark’s account. In Luke’s account, before He raises the little girl whom we will study this morning, He raised a widow’s son in Luke 7. Of course, the most well-known resurrection Jesus performed was Lazarus in John 11.
We all know that Jesus performed miracles in order to prove that He was the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of God. But at the heart of His miracles was the resurrections He did. The miracles like healings and exorcisms and walking on water - those proved Who Jesus is. Resurrections prove what Jesus does. Jesus healed people of leprosy and paralysis and blindness and deafness. But none of those miracles directly impact us. But resurrections do.
The Hebrew writer describes human beings in Hebrews 2:15 as being “afraid of death.” We don’t want to die, at least not any time soon. We take blood pressure medicine so we don’t have to die. We take medicine for our diabetes and cholesterol and those are minimum things we do to prolong death. Sometimes we have go to more drastic measures to prolong death. Why? Because we are afraid to die.
I understand that. I'm talking to myself as much as I am to you. If we quit taking medicine, we would see Paradise sooner. Do we believe that? Where are our convictions? Do we have confidence in Jesus Christ that He can and will raise our bodies from the dead and give us a spiritual body that is designed to live in heaven?
God’s guide to a well-lived life is consummated in a resurrection from the dead. Let’s study this specific miracle, the resurrection of a little girl from the dead…
In our text, Mark 5, the Mark is highlighting for us the power Jesus has over danger (in 4:35-41, He stilled a storm); His power over demons (5:1-20); and, here, His power over disease (5:25-34) and over death (5:35-43). It is remarkable that in Matthew 8:17, Matthew says, that Jesus “took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” Isaiah uses the words “griefs” (or sickness) and “sorrows” (or pains). Jesus will one day take away our sicknesses and our diseases - this is another way of saying that our bodies in heaven will be spiritual bodies, not susceptible to diseases and sicknesses.
A DISTRAUGHT FATHER - 5:21-24:
Some of you have been told this story before; I don’t believe I have told it from the pulpit. In October of 2004, when we were living in Romania, it was a Sunday morning and I had left home early to go to our meeting place to turn on the heat. Rachel was getting the girls ready for worship. Rachel had washed a load of clothes and because our apartment was so small and apartments were not designed for washing machines, we had to drain the water into the bathtub. So, when Rachel washed, she had to put the drain into the bathtub and when she gave the girls a bath, she had to take the drain out of the bathtub. This particular morning, the drain was left out of the bathtub and had drained on our tile floor.
Ana slipped on the tile floor and fell down. She cried. Rachel picked her up and Ana fell down again and knocked herself unconscious. Rachel was frantic. She was distraught. Ana woke up, ate a little banana, threw it up, and dropped off to sleep again. I did not have a cell phone so Rachel called our co-worker, Daren, who came to the building to get me and bring me home. Rachel also called a Romanian friend of ours, because Rachel thought we may have to take Ana to the emergency room. When Ana was laying in bed, unconscious, her 4-year old sister was kneeling beside the bed praying for her sister. Don’t you wish you could have heard that prayer? It did not take long for all of that to happen and for Ana to wake up and be normal. Except she doesn’t have much of a sense of smell anymore.
Some of you have lost children and you know what it is like to lose a child. This was the closest we ever came to losing one of our children and that was scary enough. Ana was two and a half years old when that happened.
Two years after we moved to the United States, in 2010, the Band Perry had a song titled, “If I Die Young.” The first few lines of that song are: “If I die young, bury me in satin. Lay me down on a bed of roses. Sink me in a river at dawn. Send me away with the words of a love song.” Ana would sing that song sometimes. She was eight by then. I never told her this but I did not like hearing her sing that song. It made me think how close we came to losing her.
This daddy in Mark 5 is distraught. At first his daughter was on her deathbed but then she died. Luke 8:42 tells us that she was his only daughter. We do not know if he had other children. This man was well respected in his community and in his religion. He was a synagogue ruler.
A synagogue was, of course, the place where Jews met for community activities, a school for their children, and a place to worship and study the Law on the Sabbath. This man, named Jairus, was a ruler of a synagogue which means he was in charge of the order of worship - no doubt a serious and dedicated Jew. But his daughter - he says, is “at the point of death.” The phrase is literally, “has the last.” She is clearly nearing the time when she will leave this physical world and will leave mom and dad childless or at least daughterless.
This man shows his great faith in Jesus for what else would compel a loving father to leave the deathbed of his only daughter? He had heard of Jesus. He knew Jesus to work miracles. He knew Jesus to be a man of love. So, he went to Jesus with high hopes and great expectations. Jesus left with him, always ready to bless others. The point to make here is that when we suffer, Jesus wants to be with us.
We are going to skip over the miracle that delayed Jesus; healing this woman who had some type of hemorrhage of blood that would not stop. Except I do want to draw your attention to the words Jesus spoke to her in verse 34. He heals her and blesses her - “Your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” This poor woman could now have peace. Peace from sickness. Peace from shame. Peace from pain. Peace from contempt.
JESUS HAS POWER OVER DEATH - 5:35-43:
But, let’s not forget about Jairus! I guarantee you Jairus has not forgotten about his daughter! While Jesus was still speaking, a messenger comes to the synagogue ruler and tells him his daughter has died. Sadder news could not have been delivered. His heart, no doubt sank. His eyes filled with tears. His shoulders slumped. But the Son of Love says to him, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Jesus had just stopped a disease that would cause death; He surely has the same power to reverse death! Verse 36 is the word of faith. Notice too that “fear” and “faith” are opposites. When we fear, it’s because our faith is weak. When we trust, there’s not much room for fear.
Jesus allowed none of His disciples to go with Him except His three inner circle - Peter, James, and John. At the home of Jairus, the professional Jewish mourners were already there making a huge commotion while the family was weeping and wailing.
Jesus asked them all, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died but is asleep.” They laughed at Him. They knew she was dead. But, death is only a sleep and by the power of Jesus, one can awaken from death to life again. So He put them all out except the girl’s dad and mom and Peter, James and John. Verse 39 is the word of hope.
Then, touching a dead body - which would have made Him unclean according to the Law of Moses if He weren’t in the process making her alive again! - He said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Earle (38) suggests these words (the Aramaic particularly) were said by the mom each morning when she awakened the girl. Notice we have the word “immediately.” She got up, began to walk and everyone was “completely” astounded! The Greek word for “astounded” gives us the English word “ecstasy.” That’s how moved they were! Verse 41 is the word of love.
Finally, Jesus gave the parents the command to feed the girl and the command to them and the apostles not to broadcast this miracle. The popularity would not be appropriate for Jesus at this time.
At this point, I want to answer a question that many people have about life after death…
WILL WE KNOW ONE ANOTHER IN HEAVEN?
That is, will we retain our identities in heaven? First, I want to emphasize that we will not have the relationships that we have here on earth. There is no reason to continue to be husband and wife, parent and child, etc. when we are in heaven. Jesus told the Sadducees in Matt 22:30 that in heaven, we will not marry nor will we be given in marriage. So, the relationships we have here on earth are just for this earthly life. But that’s not the same thing as to say that we won’t remember those relationships and that we won’t know each other in heaven.
In the account of the rich man and Lazarus, in Luke 16, not only did the rich man retain his identity and memory in torments, but Abraham retained his identity and Lazarus, retained his and it seems to me, Lazarus recognized Abraham even though he had never met him in life.
Secondly, since the Bible teaches that death is only a “sleep,” as Jesus does here, that suggests that, as with sleep, when we “awake” in our spiritual bodies, we will have some memory of our past, our earthly life, and some memory of those dear to us.
Third, Jesus teaches that heaven is going to be a huge banquet, celebrating the marriage of the church with the Groom, Jesus Himself: Matt. 8:11. In that passage, Jesus says that you and I will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. How can we do that if we don’t know who they are?
Fourth, when Jesus Himself rose from the dead, His apostles recognized Him. John writes that He was the “same Jesus” (John 20:18-20, 26-28). If we know Jesus, even though we’ve never met Him in life, it seems that we will also know one another.
Fifth, if you remember, at the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus… Peter recognized both of those men and wanted to build tents of worship for them. That illustrates that Moses and Elijah still had their identities and it illustrates that Peter was able to recognize them even though he had never met them.
Sixth, and we could give more examples, Paul writes in his letters many times that he was looking forward to seeing his converts saved when Jesus comes again: Phil. 2:16; 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:19-20; 2 Cor. 1:14; 4:14. How could Paul rejoice to see his converts saved if he did not know and recognize them in heaven? And, if he did not have a memory of their relationship on earth?
There is truth in that little poem: Up to that world of light, Take us, dear Savior: May we all there unite, Happy, forever.
That prayer is true and warms our hearts because Jesus could raise people from dead and because Jesus, Himself, rose from the dead.
This, and other, miracles of healing show us:
1. Jesus’ power over diseases.
2. Jesus’ power over death.
3. Jesus’ love & compassion.
4. Jesus’ impartiality. Jesus wants everyone to be saved and to come to understand and obey the truth.
Take home message: Jesus will cure all our diseases, including our mortality, one day. Come to Him and let Him touch you.