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Jesus: The Sovereign of Disease & Death

Tom Pennington • Mark 5:21-43

  • 2017-03-05 AM
  • Sermons


Most of us know what it is like, at some point in your life, to be without hope. Perhaps it came in the life of someone you loved. The doctors did all they could, but it just wasn't enough. And the day came when they stopped talking about that person getting better and they started talking instead about just making them as comfortable as possible. And as we sat in that hospital room or in that doctor's office and we heard the reality of our situation, for us at that moment, all hope was gone. At the human level, the situation was entirely hopeless.

This morning, we meet two people whose circumstances were indeed hopeless. One of them had a dying body, the other a dying daughter. Both of them had exhausted all of their options and yet remarkably, on one day, both of them found profound reasons still to hope. And that hope had a name, Jesus of Nazareth. These two encounters that we have just read together from Mark 5 show us Jesus' power - His power over disease, His power over sin, His power over death. But in showing us Jesus' power over those things, this passage shows us something more. It shows us the reality of who Jesus was in fact truly. They prove to us who Jesus is.

So, let's look at it together. Mark begins in verse 21 by setting the scene for us. "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." Whatever reason Jesus had the night before for leaving Capernaum and traveling down to the southeastern corner of the Sea of Galilee (the lake that is the Sea of Galilee) - whatever that reason was, probably just for some desperately needed rest, He now travels the 12-to-13-mile diagonal trip back across the lake to the northwestern corner, where the large city of Capernaum was located. Some of the crowd that had heard Him teach from the previous day are looking for Him. They haven't been able to find Him. And then they spot the boat. They recognize that it's Jesus with His disciples. Word spreads and soon a crowd had gathered around Jesus. And so, He elected to stay by the shore there. And there He would teach them as He had the day before. That's the setting for this amazing series of circumstances.

Now I want you to see this story unfold in a couple of scenes. The story begins with a scene we have called "Two Desperate Acts of Faith", "Two Desperate Acts of Faith". Both of the people we're about to meet found themselves in the middle of personal tragedy. And they were each on a desperate mission, because of that tragedy, to find Jesus. The first of them was an influential leader. We meet him in verse 22: "One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet..." Jewish synagogues in the first century were presided over by men called the "Rulers of the Synagogue". These were lay leaders not priests. And they occupied what really was the highest position in their communities, like the rich young ruler who would later encounter Jesus. These were the men responsible for arranging the synagogue worship services, for assigning some to read the Scripture and others to pray and still others to teach. Many synagogues had just one ruler - the smaller synagogues in the smaller more remote villages. Others, like this one in Capernaum, were large enough to have several rulers who oversaw them. And this man we're told was one of the rulers of the synagogue there in Capernaum.

Now think about what that means. Capernaum was the hometown of several of the disciples. He would have grown up with and certainly have known, through synagogue worship, Peter and Andrew, James and John. He also would have known Jesus. Jesus, early in His ministry, made Capernaum His ministry home base. He attended the synagogue there whenever he was in town on each Sabbath day and often taught in this very synagogue where Jairus served. That means Jairus, along with the other rulers of that synagogue, would have had to have given Jesus permission to teach there, as Jesus did for example back in chapter 1:21; He taught at the Capernaum synagogue. It was on that same day, you remember, that Jesus cast a demon out of a man. Jairus would have been there to see that. And later that day, after the Sabbath was over, we're told crowds came to Peter's home, right there near the synagogue in Capernaum. And Jesus, for a good portion of the night, healed one person after another of their diseases. So, this man had heard Jesus teach. He had seen His miracles.

And now he pushes his way through the crowd to get to Jesus. When he finally reached Him, he fell at his feet, I think, both as a sign of his respect for Jesus but, even more so, a sign of his desperation. We know that because of what he says, verse 23: "and [he] implored Him [Jesus] 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.'" In the original language, "my little daughter" is a term of deep love and affection. It's like our expression "my little girl", "my little girl". Verse 42 tells us that she was 12 years old. That means, in the Jewish culture of the first century, she had arrived at womanhood. But to Jairus, she was still his little girl. Luke tells us she was his only daughter. And he tells Jesus that his little girl is at the point of death. She's about to die.

If you're a parent, you can feel the trauma of this moment because our children are the greatest source of joy to us, and they can also be the greatest source of sorrow. I'm sure, as he heard the news about his daughter's condition perhaps even as he's finding his way to Jesus, he thought, as most parents would think, "Why her Lord? Why not me? She's only 12 years old. She's got her life ahead of her."

He asked Jesus to come and to lay his hands on her. Why would he ask that? Well, he had seen Jesus do this before - back in chapter 1 on that day when Jesus spoke in the synagogue there. And when he did the exorcism in the synagogue. And then, after the Sabbath was over, when He healed one after another came forward and He placed his hands on them and He prayed for them, and He healed them. It's clear that he had come to have faith in Jesus' ability. He is convinced that Jesus can heal his daughter. Notice what he says in verse 23: "she will get well and live." So, he came in faith to Jesus.

And I love what happens next, verse 24: "And He went off with him..." Now we just expect that of Jesus, don't we? And yet it's still amazing. What I love about it is it shows that Jesus wasn't just concerned about the crowds. He was and is still concerned about the individuals. I mean think about it. A huge crowd has gathered. He has an opportunity to teach hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. But He left them to help one desperate father and his little girl.

Now just in case you think that it's because Jairus was such an influential citizen in that city, just in case you think that Jesus has some sort of ulterior motives to ingratiate Himself with the leaders of the town, just in case you think He only cares about the wealthy, Jesus is about to stop His mission to Jairus in order to care for an anonymous woman. We meet her in verse 24: "...and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him." She's in this crowd. Likely, most who had gathered at the lake when Jesus' boat had arrived back, most of that crowd that had gathered, anticipating hearing Jesus teach, have overheard this conversation between Jesus and Jairus. And they're excited about what's going to happen. Here's going to be another one of those amazing opportunities for Jesus to put His power on display - "What'll He do this time? What'll it be like?" And so, the entire crowd sort of trails along and fights and pushes to be near Him so they can see it at the very forefront of the crowd, as Jesus walks to her town. In fact, the Greek word for "pressing in" here has the idea of "they thronged him." The crowd was crushing in on Jesus and Jairus. It was a chaotic, even frightening, scene. Try to imagine how frantic Jairus must have been. He was there on a simple mission: Get Jesus to my house so He can heal my daughter. And here are all of these people making that increasingly difficult. He has an agenda.

But there's a woman in the crowd who is a different plan. Notice verse 25: "A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse..." The nature of her problem was a chronic hemorrhage. Literally, the Greek text says, "being in a flow of blood for 12 years". Her problem was chronic and constant uterine bleeding. We're not told why that was true. The two most likely causes were a fibroid tumor in her uterus or perhaps some condition that had eventually developed into uterine cancer. But regardless, this woman had had this condition at some level for 12 years. Think about that. Jairus' daughter was born the year that this woman got sick. Twelve years is a long time. What were you doing in 2005? That's how long she's been sick. And if she had developed uterine cancer, she may now have been in a great deal of pain and near death.

But whether her condition was chronic or terminal, we can't be sure, but we do know this: Luke tells us it was humanly incurable. In Luke's account, chapter 8:43, he says, "And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone..." It's not that she hadn't tried. Oh, she had tried! Look at verse 26: "[she] had endured much at the hands of many physicians..." There's a reason they call medicine a "practice". And practice in the first century was not very good. I read the Jewish Talmud, or I know that in the Jewish Talmud, I should say, there are eleven different cures offered for hemorrhage. I read some of those cures and they're particularly unhelpful. Here's my personal favorite. If you want to get over hemorrhage, the Talmud says, carry barley corn salvaged from the droppings of a white she donkey. That'll help! She had endured much.

Verse 26: "and [she] had spent all that she had..." We don't know if, when her ordeal began, this woman was wealthy. But whatever she had owned when it started, she had lost it all. She had spent it all. She had exhausted all of her resources. She had tried every reputable treatment and undoubtedly many that weren't reputable because desperate people will do desperate things. But tragically, nothing had worked.

Verse 26 says, "[she] was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse..." So, she spent everything she has, and she's only gotten worse. Now that's bad. But if that wasn't bad enough, her condition created a separate and more difficult problem for her, a problem that cut across every area of her life. You see, her real problem wasn't her condition; her real problem was Leviticus 15:25-27. It says this: "Now if a woman has a discharge of her blood many days, not at the period of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond that period, all the days of her impure discharge she shall continue as though in her menstrual impurity; she is [ceremonially] unclean. Any bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her like her bed at menstruation; and every thing on which she sits shall be unclean, like her uncleanness at that time. Likewise, whoever touches them shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening." You see, this woman's problem is that for 12 years she was constantly ceremonially unclean.

Now, sitting here in the 21st century, it's hard for us to really grasp what that meant. Let me explain it to you. It meant that she was, for all intents and purposes, an outcast from the people of God. She couldn't attend the synagogue. She couldn't go to the temple. She couldn't offer sacrifice. And that was bad, but it was much worse than that. Everything and everyone she touched became ceremonially unclean and couldn't do those things. In other words, she was essentially cut off from all social interaction, perhaps even with her own family. This was a desperate woman.

And she may also have been slowly dying from uterine cancer. But regardless of what her physical diagnosis was, and we can't be sure of that, what we do know is this: it was incurable, it was constant, and it was getting worse. She had tried all the treatments and she had exhausted all of her resources and then she heard about Jesus.

Verse 27: "after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak." Somehow, we don't know how this woman heard about Christ - maybe it was through a family member or friend, maybe she overheard a conversation in the market. She's not known to this crowd. It's possible she's not even from Capernaum. Maybe she's traveled some distance to be there. We don't know but somehow, in God's providence, she heard about Jesus, and she pushed her way behind Jesus in the middle of that crowd. Now why would she do that at this point? Well, we don't know for sure. It's possible she was there in the crowd the day before, when Jesus was teaching, looking for an opportunity. And then, Jesus gets in the boat with His disciples and leaves. And then she hears He's coming back. He's arriving back this morning. And she goes and joins that crowd, still hoping to get to Jesus. And then, to her dismay, she sees a man come up to Jesus and Jesus is going to leave again. And so, desperate not to let that happen again, she pushes up behind Him in the crowd. And we're told she touched His cloak, that is, His outer garment.

Jewish men, in the first century, wore an outer garment. It was essentially a large square or rectangle of material with a hole cut in the middle for the head. And it just hung down, draped down over the body. At each of the four corners of that square or rectangle, there were also sewed to the ends of it, blue and white tassels as the Law had required back in Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22, to remind them of their obligation to obey God's Law.

Mark simply tells us she touched His outer garment. But Matthew and Luke, who also record the story, specifically tell us that she touched one of those blue and white tassels, hanging on the fringe of His garment. Now, why would she do that? Well, verse 28 says, "For she thought, 'If I just touch His garments, I will get well.'" What would have led her to that conclusion? Go back to chapter 3:9. Here was another day in Jesus' ministry: "And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd..." He was on the seashore there, and He says, 'Get a boat ready so that the crowd doesn't crowd Me.' Why would they do that? Why were they pressing in on Him so much? Verse 10: "for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him." They saw that Jesus would touch people. He would lay His hands on them, and they would be healed. And so, they assumed it would work the other way as well - "If I can just get my hands on Jesus, I'll be healed." That's what she thought. So, here is an anonymous but desperate woman.

Now it's fascinating how God, in His providence, wove these two stories together. Because do you see the contrast? Think about this with me. Jairus was a man; she a woman. Jairus was influential, known to almost everyone in the large city of Capernaum and many in the crowd that day. This woman, instead, was unknown to the crowd and to us. Jairus was a wealthy businessman; this woman had nothing because she had spent everything on her hope for a cure. Jairus was a leader in the synagogue; she couldn't even attend the synagogue. Jairus had spent the last 12 years of his life in joy and happiness; she had spent them in misery and suffering and increasing isolation. He lived in a loving home with his wife and only child, and she had been gradually alienated from everyone she loved in her life because of her disease. Two desperate people with nothing in common except the providence of God and both of their stories had begun 12 years before. But on that day God, in His providence, causes their lives to intersect at the person of Jesus.

Now understand, these stories are not just about healing of their bodies, resurrection of life. These stories are lessons in saving faith. Jesus commented on the faith of both of these people and that's remarkable. I mean, look at chapter 5:34. He says of the woman, "your faith has made you well." In verse 36, He says to the synagogue official, literally, "keep on believing". Both of them had faith. Jairus' was a weak faith, driven by desperation; the woman's faith was mixed with superstition and misperceptions that Jesus is going to correct in a moment. But in both cases, it was genuine faith. How do we know that? Well think about it. Both Jairus and the woman had to deny themselves to come to Christ. Jairus risked everything coming to Jesus. Why do I say that? Because it was just the day before that a delegation of religious leaders, Pharisees from Jerusalem, had declared Jesus to be a fraud, a deceiver, in-dwelt by Satan himself. For the leader...for one of the leaders of the synagogue in Capernaum to come in to seek out Jesus this way was to risk everything, to risk his position, his leadership, his power, his influence and possibly even his wealth because, as it became known that he was connected to the fraud, to the one in-dwelt by Satan himself, who'd want to do business with him? Certainly, he risked any hope of advancement. This woman also risked the public knowledge of her condition and the disgrace, the humiliation, even the anger of the crowd that she had contaminated them. So, they both denied themselves to come to Christ. And they also both put their confidence in Christ alone because they had already exhausted all of their own resources. They came that day to Jesus as beggars. And that's the only way anyone ever truly comes to Jesus. They came to put their confidence in Christ alone as the only one who was able to rescue them. These were two desperate acts of faith.

Now that brings us to the second scene in this story. We'll call it the "Sovereign Lord of Salvation". First of all, He brings salvation from disease and sin. We see this in the healing of this anonymous woman. For 12 years she had tried everything; nothing had worked. She had exhausted every resource and now her hope is in Christ alone. She pushed through the crowd, and she touched one of the tassels on Jesus' outer garment, confident that she would be healed. And verse 29 says, "Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction." The uterine bleeding that had plagued her for 12 long years, that had made her ceremonially unclean for every day of those 12 years, suddenly just stopped. And it didn't just stop and leave her still feeling the brunt of it. Instead, it left her body, as with all of Jesus' healings, as if it had never happened. She was aware. We aren't told how. But somehow, maybe it was the stop of the pain that she was experiencing, somehow, she was aware that she had been healed.

But she wasn't the only one who was aware of what had happened. Verse 30: "Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched My garments?'" Jesus knew what had happened. You see, Jesus' healing power didn't happen automatically. Jesus wasn't a magical person. His power to heal happened only with an act of His will. And so, what's really happening here is this: Jesus, directed by the Holy Spirit, is using His divine omniscience. He knew this was going to happen. He knew who this was. He knew what He intended to do. Notice, He knew what - He perceived power had gone forth. He knew how - 'someone touched my garments!' He knew who - He turned to see the woman who had done this. Oh, He knew! I love what John MacArthur writes about this. He says, "Jesus knows the difference between the person who approaches Him out of mere religious curiosity or a sense of adventure, and the one who comes to Him in desperation and genuine faith." He knew!

Verse 31, He had asked the question, "Who touched my garments?" You got to love this. "And His disciples said to Him, 'You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?''" They were so clueless. Just like us. And I love the fact that Luke tells us Peter spoke on behalf of the apostles. Of course, he did!

Verse 32: "And He looked around to see the woman who had done this." Now it's possible that Mark refers to her, here, as the woman because the reader already knows who she is, has already been introduced to her. But it is equally possible, and I think more likely, that he's telling us Jesus knew it was this woman. He knew who she was, and He knew why she had touched Him. But He wants her to know that He knows.

So, why did Jesus insist that she come forward and risk humiliation and even the anger of the crowd? I think there are a couple of reasons. Number one: I think it was to correct the object of her faith. Her faith, at this point, is a bit impersonal as if the power simply resides within Jesus. It's kind of an almost superstitious, magical view. Jesus wanted to make her faith intensely personal. It's her faith in Him, not the superstitious touching of His clothes that was the means of her being healed. But I think more importantly, Jesus does this to call from her a public confession. You see, she had tried to exercise her faith in Him quietly. Jesus is going to have nothing to do with that because salvation requires a public confession of "Jesus Christ is Lord". Romans 10:9-10: "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." If you want to be a Christian, you must not only confess Jesus as Lord in your heart, you must confess Him as Lord with your mouth. A public confession. She had believed in her heart. Jesus wants her to confess her faith in Him openly. Verse 33: "But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth." She was afraid. Why was she afraid? Well, she now knew that Jesus had true miracle working power. She knew she had been healed. I think she was also afraid because the entire crowd was going to be angry with her. By her presence, she had made them all unclean. They didn't know which of them had rubbed up against her, which of them had bumped into her. And they were now ceremonially unclean for the rest of the day, forbidden to come into physical contact with anyone else. But perhaps she also feared that Jesus Himself might resent her having rendered Him ceremonially unclean. She doesn't yet know that Jesus is never rendered unclean by touching the unclean. Instead, He always makes them clean. So, she was afraid, in fact, we're told her she was so afraid that she was shaking. But she fell down before Jesus and she tells Him the whole truth. I like the way Luke records it, Luke 8:47: "When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people [here's the public confession of her faith in Christ] the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed." Notice Jesus' response to her, verse 34: "And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.'"

Jesus lets us know here that more has happened to this woman than physical healing. She has experienced spiritual salvation as well. How do we know that? Well, we get the first hint at it in what He calls her. He calls her "daughter". This is the only time in the gospels Jesus refers to someone this way. There's no indication that she was younger than He was. So, this may very well be a declaration that this woman has come to be His spiritual child. But what Jesus says next makes that certain. Notice He says, "your faith has made you well". Now Jesus makes several things clear in that statement. Clearly, she had genuine faith in Him. And she was experiencing, not only physical healing, but spiritual salvation from her sins as well. The reason I say that is that expression "your faith has made you well", the Greek word translated "make well" is the Greek word "sozo". It is the New Testament word that means saved. Literally, your faith has saved you. Now, when you look at how this expression is used, the other places it occurs six other times in the gospels, so total of seven times in the gospels. Three of those times it refers to this woman - here in Mark 5, in Matthew 9, and in Luke 8. In Mark 10:52, it refers to blind Bartimaeus who clearly came to saving faith, he owned Jesus as Messiah. In Luke 7:50, it's used of the prostitute who truly trusted in Jesus and who washed Jesus' feet with her hair. And she wasn't sick at all. There's no sign that she was physically healed. And in Luke 17:19, it's used in the story of the 10 lepers who were cleansed - different word "cleansed". But the one leper who came back to thank Jesus, who seemed to be after more than physical healing, it was to that person that Jesus said, "your faith has saved you". Now when you look at the other six times this phrase occurs in the New Testament, or in the gospels I should say, it is clear that here in Mark 5 Jesus is not telling her merely that her faith has brought healing (physical healing) but that she is being spiritually rescued from her sins.

Jesus adds in verse 34: "go in peace..." Likely, he spoke those words in Aramaic. If so, He said "Go in Shalom!" Go in a state of physical and spiritual well-being. Jesus' last words to this woman assure her that her physical healing is not temporary as it is, if there is healing at all, the pretend healing of the faith healers. He says in verse 34, "be healed of your affliction". Literally, "be being healthy from your scourge". In other words, Jesus has rescued this nameless, anonymous woman from her physical scourge that has dogged her for 12 years.

But you know, Jesus doesn't always heal today when we ask. And so, it's more important I think to focus here on the fact that He saved her from her sin because Jesus not only did that for her, but He always does that for anyone who approaches Him in faith and repentance. Ken Hughes writes, "This poor woman represents humanity, all of us. We are ill. We have spent our resources trying remedies which do not work. Christ comes to us from the cross. We need to touch Him by faith. Do not fear that He will not respond. Do not fear that you are too ignorant. Do not fear that you are too selfish. Fear only one thing: that you will let Him pass without reaching out in faith to Him." What a wonderful moment for this woman!

But her wonderful moment turns into desperation for Jairus because Jesus' delay with this woman proved deadly for Jairus' daughter. I can only imagine what Jairus felt during this interchange Jesus had with this woman. He is desperate to get Jesus to his daughter and precious moments are ticking away. And verse 35 introduces us to the fact that this scene, as bad as it looks, is going to allow Jairus and us to see that Jesus also provides salvation from death. Look at verse 35: "While He was still speaking [while Jesus is talking to this woman, at that moment] they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, 'Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?'" The way this is phrased it's likely not his servants that have come. Probably, friends or relatives have found Jairus and have given him the bad news: "Your little girl, she's dead". How tragic! Twelve years old. But there's no need now to have the Teacher come. If He comes, you're just going to have to care for Him out of respect and that will just make the next few hours even more difficult.

Verse 36: "But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, 'Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.'" Now Jesus gave this man two commands at the moment of his greatest personal tragedy and they're the same two commands that Christ would give us at the moment of our greatest tragedy. One of them is a command to stop doing something and the other is a command to keep doing something. Notice what He says. Literally, "stop being filled with fear" and, secondly, literally "keep on believing in Me". Stop being filled with fear and keep on believing in Me. You want commands from our Lord to hold onto in the midst of your tragedy? There you go. Keep on believing. Jesus says, 'When you came just a few minutes ago to seek my help, you had faith in Me. Keep on believing in Me.' But Luke adds that Jesus made this promise. He said, "Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well." This was a call by Jesus for radical faith. It's one thing to believe Jesus can heal your terminally sick daughter; it's another to hold her cold dead lifeless body and believe that Jesus can raise her from the dead. That's what Jesus was calling on him to believe.

Verse 37: "And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James." Jesus told the crowd, 'Listen, I'm sorry you can't go with Me.' And then He commanded three from His inner circle to accompany Him. He wanted them there as eyewitnesses. They would later report on this and, of course, the Law called for two or three witnesses to confirm every matter. There would be plenty of witnesses in this girl's bedroom to see that, to see what would happen.

Verse 38: "They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He [Jesus] saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing." Now, the uproar that we read about there, is not merely the mourning of the family and friends, although certainly that was true. But Matthew tells us that the professional mourners and the flute players had already arrived at Jairus' house. You see, because the Jews didn't embalm, burial and all the related events had to happen quickly, usually within a day's time. And so, as soon as the attending physician pronounced the person dead, the events surrounding burial began immediately. And that included, as strange as that may sound to us, professional mourners and flute players. It was simply expected in that culture. Look at some of the things we do surrounding death from an outsider's perspective and I'm sure they look every bit as strange. It was simply expected. In fact, the Jewish Talmud says that even a poor man was expected to hire at least two flute players and one wailing woman to mourn the death of his wife, even if he was poor. And Jairus was not poor. In fact, he was one of the wealthiest, most influential members of the largest town in Galilee. And this - this was his little girl.

The mourners were usually women who mourned at the home and then, of course, went with the body from the home to the gravesite. They would clap. They would wail with loud cries, often wailing the name of the one who had died. And there were flute players. Now don't think Mozart. The flute players didn't play soothing sounds but strident, discordant notes to try to express the emotional shock and grief that the family was experiencing. And of course, in addition to all of that, there would have been many family and friends who would have gathered for such a well-known leader in the community. When Jesus, Jairus, and the three disciples arrived at the home, that's what they saw and discovered.

Verse 39: "And entering in, He said to them, 'Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.'" Now don't misunderstand. Jesus is not being naive nor is He being wrong. The child is dead. He knows the child is dead. He uses the same language with Lazarus whom He waited for four days so Lazarus could die, and He said he's asleep. And later, He said, "He's dead". So, this is what Jesus means. So, why would he say he sleeps, that she sleeps? I love this. For Jesus, death was no more serious than awakening someone who had fallen asleep. He knew what He was going to do. When He said this, verse 40 says, "They began laughing at Him." By the way, this illustrates how utterly insincere and profit-driven the mourners were. They go on a moment's notice from wailing to sarcastic laughter. So, Jesus puts them all out of the house. And then Jesus, Jairus and his wife, and the three disciples went into this little girl's room, where her body lay.

Verse 41: "Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, 'Talitha kum!'" And then, because Mark is writing his gospel to the Roman Christians who don't know Aramaic, he translates it for them, "which translated means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'" I love this verse. As so many in the gospels, it just has the ring of an eyewitness report, because it is! Mark wrote his gospel under the direction of Peter. And Peter was one of the people in the room who saw this unfold. Notice what Jesus does. He takes her by the hand. Why did Jesus so often touch those He healed? Sometimes, remember on at least one occasion, He did it with a word from a distance. He could do that; He didn't have to touch them. Why did He do that? So often He did it to make it very clear to the persons around, who were witnessing it, that He was the one doing it. He takes her by the hand. And then He spoke to her in a familiar Aramaic expression. It's an expression that undoubtedly her mother had used often to wake her up from a good night's sleep. Literally translated, it means "Little lamb arise. Little lamb arise." Maybe, as we would say it today, "Get up little one!"

Verse 42: "Immediately the girl got up and began to walk..." You know there's so many times I wish we could never have read these stories - we were hearing it for the first time. You see, what that says? Listen, you've seen death. You've seen a dead body. You know how impossible it is to overcome death.

And Jesus says, "Little lamb arise!" And this girl got up and walked "for she was 12 years old". "And immediately they [that is the three disciples and the parents] were completely astounded. And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this..." Now Jesus understands that everybody in the town knows this girl died. And He knows that very shortly, when she's running through the streets of Capernaum, everybody's going to know she's alive. He's just saying, 'Look, I don't want you to relay the details of this until I'm gone.' By the way, that tells us a lot about Christ too, doesn't it? He wasn't into showboating. He genuinely was concerned about this family. Mark's last line is such a wonderful commentary on our Lord also. He just raised this girl from the dead. And then He's concerned that she might be hungry. William Hendrickson writes, "One moment Jesus triumphs over death; the next moment hunger. His power cannot be fathomed, nor His compassion measured. Jesus is truly the hope of the hopeless".

So, what are the implications of these two stories for us? Let me just give you a couple of things to consider. First of all, these two stories remind us, as Mark does throughout his gospel, that Jesus is God. Jesus in these stories shows His sovereignty, His sovereignty over disease and death. In the Old Testament, those are the prerogatives of God alone. Listen to Deuteronomy 32:39: "See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal." He says, 'Listen, there's only one god and I am Him. And the god whose name is Yahweh is the only one who has the authority to put to death and to raise to life.' 1 Samuel 2:6: "The Lord [Yahweh] kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol [the grave] and [He] raises up." Deuteronomy says He wounds, and He alone heals. That is the theological backdrop for these two miracles that Jesus performed on this day. In the Old Testament, when healing took place or on a couple of occasions when people were raised from the dead, there was no doubt that the prophets who did it were working on behalf of the true God. Why? Because only the true God could do those things. And in Jesus' case, Mark has already made it clear that He is far more than a great prophet. He belongs in a category all His own. He is the one and only unique Son of God. Go back to chapter 1:1 - "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Even the demons understood this. Earlier in chapter 5, you remember Jesus encounters the demoniac of Gadara. And the demon who's the spokesperson for the legion of demons within this man, when he sees Jesus in verse 7 of chapter 5, he says, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" This is who Jesus is. And His raising people from the dead, which only God can do, only punctuates that reality.

A second lesson for us, a second implication in this text, is that Jesus has the power over death. You know, when we read about Jairus' daughter, it should give us great hope. We don't need to fear death - for ourselves or for those we love. Jesus has personally conquered death. Romans 6:9: "...Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him." In fact, exactly the opposite is true. He is master over death. I love what he says to John on the Island of Patmos in Revelation 1:18. He says, "I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades [the grave]." You know what Jesus was saying? I have the total authority over all death. The authority belongs to me, Jesus said. I love that because, do you understand that what happened in that little girl's room will one day happen on a much grander scale? Jesus will say, 'Little ones arise!" And the dead in Christ will receive glorified bodies and those who are alive will all be changed. Jesus is the Lord of death. He is the sovereign over death. And one day He will completely destroy it. 1 Corinthians 15:26: "The last enemy that will be abolished is death." I love what a poet wrote of Jesus' ministry. He said, "No longer must the mourners weep, nor call departed children dead, for death is transformed into sleep and every grave becomes a bed."

A third lesson that we can see, a third implication of this text, is that Jesus calls us to believe in Him for salvation. You see, Jairus and this woman had seen or heard about Jesus' teaching in His miracles before. And then, through very difficult circumstances, very different, very difficult circumstances, God had brought both of them to the end of themselves. They find themselves now completely hopeless without Christ. Now, what they had learned about Jesus and what they faced in their circumstances, brought them individually to a crossroads. Think about this. Where they are now, knowing what they know about Jesus, knowing what they know about their circumstances, they could either come to Jesus and put their whole confidence, their lives, their eternities, is in His hands or, they could keep on trying to work it out themselves. I can't help but think but there may be people here like that this morning. Maybe you know in your heart of hearts that you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, whatever you may have claimed in the past. And right now, God in His providence, really in His goodness, is taking you through some incredible difficulty in your life. You feel hopeless. I want you to understand that it is very possible that God, in His providence, is doing in your life exactly what He did in the lives of these two people that we have met this morning. God intends to use your circumstances to bring you to the end of yourself, to the end of your own resources in order to prepare your heart and to draw you to Himself. If you will recognize your need, if you are willing like they did to deny yourself, to be willing to walk away from everything to come to Jesus, if you're willing to place your confidence in Christ alone as your only hope of rescue, He will receive you just as He received those two desperate people on that one day in His ministry. Like them, your faith doesn't have to be perfect, but it has to be in Him alone. Come to Jesus.

Let's pray together.

Our Father we thank You for showing us Christ. We thank You for allowing us to get a glimpse of His glory. Oh Father, for those of us who have come to know You through Him, help us to praise Him, to adore Him, to love Him with all of our hearts, to follow Him in obedience in our lives, to open our mouths and to tell others about Him. Lord, how could we keep the glory of Christ to ourselves? Thank You for your goodness in showing us Him. Father I pray for those here this morning who are hopeless. Oh God, help them to see that that if they can just get to Christ, if they're willing to come to Him, He's still the same Savior, still the same compassionate heart, still willing to receive the one who comes to Him putting all trust solely in Him. And may this be the day when they come to Jesus. We pray it in Jesus' name, Amen!