Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 February 19, 2023
“Stronger Than Death”
Mark 5:21-24, 35-43
Some form of the English word immediately occurs forty-one times in Mark’s Gospel.1 We read constantly, from Mark’s Spirit-led pen, that immediately this or that happens, or that immediately Jesus does this or that. Hence, much of the Gospel reads like a thriller—the narrative rumbles along at breakneck pace. We find ourselves in a particularly fast-paced portion of Mark today. Immediately after Jesus’ returns from exorcising the Gadarene demoniac, a man meets Jesus with a very sad narrative—and he pleads with Jesus to intervene. Jesus’ decisive intervention proves Him stronger than death. Let’s get right to this thrilling truth as we hear the Word of God read and proclaimed once again in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Our narrative follows hard on the heels of Jesus’ exorcism of the Gadarene demoniac. Jesus barely gets out of the boat from Gadara when Jairus, a synagogue ruler, somehow gets through the crowd and meets Him on the seashore. Jairus, with no loss of time, pleads for the health and life of his very sick daughter—pleading for Jesus to return to his home to lay hands upon her. Jesus accedes to this request, and the two begin to travel toward Jairus’ house—but an apparently untimely interruption ensues.
A woman in the crowd is sick with bleeding of twelve years’ duration. During that extended period of ill health she suffered much from physicians, yet she grew worse, not better. Her pursuit of healing cost her everything she had. Now, twelve years after the illness’s onset, she stands in the crowd sicker and penniless. She reasons, in faith, “If I but touch the hem of His garments, I shall be made well.” She then acts in a manner consistent with her faith-filled reasoning. She reaches out, believing in Jesus’ goodness and power, and she receives her healing—immediately, of course.
Upon this, Jesus asks, “Who touched Me?” Jesus knew power went out from Him. The disciples, incredulous, wonder how the one touching Him possibly can be identified—in view of the dense throng about. Yet Jesus knows, and He waits—and the woman comes, confessing the whole. Jesus, upon hearing the whole, blesses her with peace and healing—and He again turns His attention toward Jairus and his daughter.
The healing of the woman detains Jesus for precious moments that might have brought Him nigh, or even inside, Jairus’ home. Alas, the sad narrative now deepens, for some come from the synagogue ruler’s house, saying, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” At just this instant, Jesus intervenes decisively. He tells Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.” Then, taking only Peter, James, and John from that massive seashore crowd, He goes to Jairus’ house as if uninterrupted.
They arrive in due course at Jairus’ home, and Jesus, upon arrival, sees the commotion. He sees, and hears, the weeping and the wailing accompanying the child’s death. Into this din Jesus inserts His voice, saying, “The child is not dead, but sleeping.” The wailing turns to mocking laughter. Surely He can see the child has died. Why would He say such a thing? Yet, upon this insulting laughter, Jesus gets down to business.
He puts the throng outside Jairus’ house, but He admits the child’s parents to their own home—plus the three disciples He brought with Him gain admission. Then Jesus does the incredible—which answers the mocking laughter with plenty to spare. He resurrects this twelve-year-old girl. He takes her by the hand, and He addresses her in her heart language, “Talitha koum,” which, woodenly translated from the Aramaic, means “Little girl, stand up.”2 In effect, Jesus bids her to rise from her physical death—and she does that very thing. More than this, she begins to walk around.
The girl’s resurrection and subsequent activity astonishes—yea, overwhelms—the throng. While the people assembled their process what they’ve seen, and while they attempt to recover their overwhelmed faculties, Jesus issues two commands, namely, that no one should know this—and, most practically and lovingly, that they must give her something to eat.
Jesus performed two other resurrections during his earthly ministry. He also raised the widow of Nain’s son, and He raised His good friend, Lazarus. As thrilling as these resurrections appear to us, all three rose from physical death only to endure it again—though I hope such death came when each was old and full of days. Jesus, like these three, rose from the dead—but, unlike those three, He rose from the dead never to taste of death again. This has powerful, thrilling implications for our souls.
Jesus, on the night of His betrayal, promises, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19b). Other Scripture aligns with this. The Lord tells us, through the Apostle Paul, that we, who were dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), God made alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). Jesus tells a grieving Martha, at the death of her brother Lazarus, that the one living and believing in Jesus shall never die—even though his body die (cf. John 11:25-26). Jesus tells His opponents, in emphatic terms, that the one keeping His Word will never see death (John 8:51). In fact, our Father credits His Son’s perfect keeping of His Word to our account—and the promise holds unshakably.
Jesus, clearly, is stronger than death. This fact guarantees that we who belong to Him triumph over the grave. This gives us confidence when our earthly days end, but let it spur us to live humbly confident lives for His glory—and, secondarily, for the blessing of many others as well.
1Greek euthus (euquV)::English immediately.
2Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).