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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 28, 2015
Death has been the foremost enemy of man ever since Adam willfully disobeyed God and plunged himself and all his descendants into sin. Technological advances have enabled man in some ways to “cheat death,” so to speak, by effectively overcoming many of the diseases and correcting the failure of various body parts that used to be common causes of physical death. My presence with you here today is proof of that because I would have died in 1984 except for God’s grace in allowing me to have an operation to remove an infected and leaking appendix and antibiotics to stop the infection in my abdominal cavity. Only a couple of decades earlier it was not uncommon for appendicitis to cause death – as it did to Diane’s grandfather.
Modern medicine may be able to “cheat” death for a short time, but death inevitably wins the game. As a pastor, I have been at plenty of funerals. Death takes some early. Amanda Jill Berreth, the daughter of dear friends of ours when we were in California, died only three days after birth despite all the advanced medical care she received. I have also done memorial services for children that never made it out of the womb. Death strikes others down in their prime through a host of means – disease, organ failure, accidents, war. Others live to a ripe old age as did Mr. George Ball, a good friend of my family’s, who made it to 105, but physical death still came.
A common element in the various religions is that they develop doctrines to try to cope with death. The great tragedy of false religions is that the hope they give is an illusion. Islam claims to be the way to appease Allah and gain heaven, but Allah is fickle, so there is no secure promise in it except to die in jihad, and even Mohammed is still in his grave. Roman Catholicism claims to provide a means to earn your way to heaven, but only after you spend an unknown time in purgatory first. That does not sound comforting to me. Hinduism and other eastern religions regard death as just part of the cycle of reincarnation, but that brings no comfort when death is actually faced. Fifteen years before he died, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, and I know it entirely, satisfies my soul. It fills my whole being and I find a solace in the Bhagavad and Upanishad that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount.” But just before his death he wrote, “My days are numbered. I am not likely to live very long, perhaps a year or a little more. For the first time in fifty years I find myself in the slew of despond.” Secular Humanism dismisses death as just part of the evolutionary process, but that removes purpose to life and so leads to lives of cynicism and despair.
There are really only two questions that man has in regards to death. 1) Has anyone ever conquered death? 2) Is there a way for me to conquer it too? Our study today will show that Jesus both conquered death Himself and He made a way for us to conquer it. Jesus has authority over disease and death.
Turn to Matthew 9:18 and put a marker there, then to Luke 8:40 and put a marker there, then to Mark 5:21 which we will follow today since it is the most detailed account. Chronologically, our text begins with Jesus’ return to Capernaum from the country of the Garasenes where He had cast out a legion of demons from a man. In Matthew’s account, he has placed this within a section documenting that Jesus has authority that only God Himself could have. Jesus has authority to cure every imaginable disease and physical affliction. Jesus has authority over nature itself and the wind and the sea obeyed His commands in violation of the laws of physics. Jesus also has authority over the supernatural so that the demons had no choice but to obey Him. Jesus also has authority to forgive sins as was demonstrated in the forgiving and healing of the paralytic.
Mark 5:21 begins, “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.” Luke 8:40 specifically points out that “the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for him.” Matthew confirms what we would suppose, Jesus begins speaking to this crowd.
Mark 5:22 continues, 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 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.”24 And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.”
First, the man who came to Jesus was named Jairus and he was not just any synagogue official, but he was one of the rulers (a]rcwn / arch n or Mark – a ajrcisunagwgoV / archisunag gos) of the synagogue in Capernaum. This means he was one of the men responsible for the total administration and operation of the synagogue including supervision of the worship services and teaching, adjudicating disputes and other leadership duties. This is important to keep in mind because there was already a movement against Jesus by most of the religious leaders. For Jairus to come to Jesus would mean he would do so at the risk of inviting the scorn if not rejection of the other religious leaders.
Jairus would certainly have known about if not personally been present at the some of the teachings of Jesus and seen some of the miracles Jesus had wrought in Capernaum. Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law and other people of various diseases and had cast out demons (Luke 4:35-41). From a distance, Jesus had also healed the son of the royal official (John 4:46-54) and the servant of the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10). It is logical to assume that knowledge of these many healings prompt Jairus to come and beg Jesus to heal his daughter. His coming to Jesus and falling down before him reveals both that he has at least some faith in Jesus and he is desperate. Luke is specific that this is his only daughter and that she is twelve years old (Luke 8:42).
Why did Jairus wait until the situation was so desperate before coming to Jesus? Perhaps his daughter’s illness had come upon her or had taken such a severe turn for the worse while Jesus was in the country of the Gerasenes, but the accounts of Jesus’ trip there indicate He was away from Capernaum for perhaps only a day having sailed there the night before, cast out the demons from the demoniacs that morning and then returned to Capernaum later that same day (Mark 4:35-5:21).
It is also possible, and perhaps more probable, that Jairus had not come the day before when Jesus had been healing people because he was afraid of the reaction of the other Jewish religious leaders. The scribes who had come up from Jerusalem and the Pharisees were accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the ruler of demons (Matthew 12:24: Mark 3:22) and demanding another sign from Him (Matthew 12:38). Jesus in turn had condemned them for blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:25-31) and began teaching in parables (Matthew 13). If this is the case, then his fear of them is overcome by concern for his daughter and his personal knowledge that Jesus has healed others and belief He could heal her.
The greatest hindrance in people coming to Jesus Christ is not an unbelief in Jesus. Even in our increasingly secular society most people respect Jesus and even believe most of the Biblical accounts of His activities. The greatest block to personal faith in Jesus for salvation from sin is a failure to see the need for it. They are not yet desperate enough. Jairus did not come to Jesus until his situation was so desperate that Jesus became his last option. A lot of people are like that, and I am sure there are those present here today that are like that. You are generally positive about Jesus and believe many great things about Him, but you have not yet become desperate enough to come to Him for the forgiveness of your sin. Perhaps you still think you can get through life and make it to heaven by your own means or you fear what others will think about you if you actually believed and followed Jesus as your Lord and Savior? How long will you hesitate? Today is the day of salvation for tomorrow may be too late. How guilty would Jairus have felt if he had waited longer and his daughter had already died? What will it be like for you if wait until it is too late and you spend eternity tormented and separated from Christ?
I also wonder about many of you who are Christians. Yes, by faith you have found forgiveness because Jesus has paid the price of atonement for your sin. However, there are still those areas of your life that you know are not right before the Lord and the things of this world still tantalize your eyes. When will you see that the Christian life only works when lived according to Christ’s directions? You must firmly fix your eyes upon Jesus or you will sink in the storms of this life. How long will you hesitate to be serious about living for Christ instead of for yourself? If you wait, your soul may be saved, but it will be as through fire, and the works of your life will be a loss for they will be wood, hay and straw that will burn up in that fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
You must come to Jesus to be saved from your sin, and you must walk with Jesus to live the Christian life. Have you reached a point of enough desperation to seek Him as your only hope?
There was a large crowd following Jesus and was pressing in on Him while He was going with Jairus to his house to heal his daughter. Mark 5:25-34 records that while they are on their way they are interrupted by a desperate woman. Jesus never let an interruption bother Him. Instead, He turned them into new opportunities to minister and He does the same here. 25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 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— 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”
We need to understand a little about a Jewish ceremonial law to understand the true nature of the suffering this woman had been enduring for twelve years and why she had become so desperate. Leviticus 15 declared a woman to be unclean during her menstrual flow and to remain unclean until seven days after her blood flow had stopped at which time she was to give the appropriate sacrifice before she could be declared to be clean again. In addition, essentially everything she touched would also become unclean, and an unclean person could not participate in the public worship of God. She could not go to the temple or to the synagogue, and because anyone who touched her or touched something she had touched would also be unclean, she was essential shut out from most normal social activities. She had endured this for 12 continuous years. (Note that is also the number of years Jairus’ daughter was alive enjoying life while this woman endured a living death). The woman was desperate to be cured. She had spent all her money on doctors trying to find relief, but no one could cure her, and she had in fact gotten worse.
Mark 5:27 states she had heard about Jesus, and her response shows she believed it would be worth the effort to see if Jesus would heal her. The question was how could she, an unclean woman, be able to approach Jesus to be healed? Her hemorrhaging made it difficult to even go out in public. She found her opportunity as the crowd following Jesus came by her. She reasoned that since Jesus had shown He was so powerful to heal others, then certainly just touching His garment would be enough, and so that Jesus would not know He was touched by an unclean woman, she came up from behind Him. Luke states that she touched only the fringe of Jesus’ outer garment, something that should not be noticeable at all. However, you cannot sneak up on God and not be noticed. But what she received was more compassion and grace than she could have imagined.
First, Mark 5:29 states, “immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.” She was healed immediately and she knew it.
Second, Jesus did notice and she received something even more wonderful. Mark 5:30-34, 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?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 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. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”
Jesus’ reaction to being touched causes the woman to reveal herself and confess what she had done. She was fearful because what she did was selfish in putting others in danger of becoming unclean without them even knowing about it. But she was desperate. She fell down before Jesus as she told her story including how she was immediately healed when she touched the hem of his garment. Jesus’ response to her was beyond anything she could have ever anticipated. He did not condemn her. He extended more grace and compassion. First, though she may have easily been about the same age as Jesus, He calls her “daughter” (qugavthr / thugat r), a term for a woman for whom there is affectionate concern. He then confirmed her faith in Him was the source of her being delivered and she was healed of her affliction so she could go in peace. Such is the compassion and grace of our Lord to those that seek Him out. She was desperate, and she found in Jesus the complete solution to her problem.
Please note that this passage does not teach as some do that you can claim healing from God. The gospel accounts record multitudes of people being healed by Jesus completely apart from any faith on their part. The centurion’s servant was healed without having any contact with Jesus and perhaps without even being aware that he might be healed. The widow’s son at Nain was dead, so there could be no faith on his part, and his mother did not even know why Jesus had stopped the funeral procession. In addition, Jesus’ healings were apart from the person’s personal faith in Him as Messiah. Luke 17 records Jesus healing ten lepers, but only one turned back to glorify God and give thanks to Jesus and was saved. Care must be taken to be sure to interpret the Bible according to its context and not make rash claims. Jesus healed by His sovereign will, often in response to faith, but never dependent on it. The same is still true today. No human has the right to either demand or claim physical healing from God. We can only pray and request it and then wait for Him to reveal His will.
Mark 5:35 tells us what happens next.“While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?”
Jesus is still talking to the woman when people arrive from Jairus’ home and tell him that his daughter has died so there was no need to trouble Jesus anymore about it. Jairus must have been absolutely crushed. His daughter was dead. He was too late. Or was he?
Verse 36 informs us, 36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe,” with Luke 8:50 adding, “and swqhvsetai / s th setai – she will be healed, made well, delivered, saved.” Jesus intervenes to give hope where no hope is left. Death is final for humans unless God intervenes.
Jesus also intervenes to reduce the number of people following Him. Mark 5:37, “And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John, the brother of James.” These men are Jesus’ inner circle among the disciples and only they and the girl’s parents go into the house. The rest of the crowd must follow at a distance and would have to stay outside once they reached Jairus’ house.
There is quite a ruckus at the house when they arrive. Mark 5:38 states, “They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing.” They enter the house where there are more people weeping and lamenting her (Luke 8:52) and flute players adding to the noisy disorder (Matthew 9:23). That seems odd to us, but it was normal in that culture.
The general tendency in American culture is that when someone dies, people will cry and those very close to the deceased may even cry out loud, but everyone else tends to speak in quiet tones and tries to be calming. Funeral homes play somber music to comfort and calm. It was Jewish custom at that time, and it is still the custom in many near-eastern lands, that the death of a person brings about loud wailing and music played in discord that can be described more as noise than anything else. Their purpose is to proclaim the agony of the loss instead consoling and quieting the spirit.
Jewish funerals involved three prescribed ways of expressing grief and lamentation. First, tearing one’s garments (which we do not find Jairus doing since he is with Jesus and is now looking to Jesus to raise her from the dead). Second, is hiring professional women mourners. They would not only wail the name of the one who just died, but also that of other family members who have died so that old grief is added to new grief. (Their shrieking, wailing and groaning were enough to cause grief). The third way of expressing grief was hiring professional musicians, most commonly flute-players, who would play loud, disconcerting sounds meant to reflect the emotional discord and confusion of grief.
The Talmud records that even a poor man whose wife had died should hire at least two flute players and one wailing woman. Jairus was the chief elder of the temple and no doubt a man of some wealth. There would have had been quite a commotion going on when Jairus arrived with Jesus and His disciples.
Jesus immediately prepared to put things back in order. First was to stop the noise and get rid of the professional mourners. Mark 5:39, “. . . ‘Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” Luke 8:52 adds that He told them to stop. Matthew 9:24 adds that He told these professional mourners to “depart!” They did not respond well to this. Mark 5:40, “and they began laughing at Him,” with Luke adding “knowing that she had died.” This would have been the hard, hearty laughter of someone gloating over someone who has just made a foolish statement. The shallowness of these professional mourners became obvious and obnoxious. One moment they are wailing and crying in fake sorrow. The next they are rolling with laughter at what they considered an absurd statement. No one in true sorrow could not have reacted as they did.
Mark 5:40-43 continues that Jesus then 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. 41 Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 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.
Jesus instructed the parents not tell others what had happened (Luke 8:56), but how could such news be contained? Many people had seen the little girl dead and many more had heard that she had died, yet now she was alive and walking around. Matthew 9:26 states, “and this news went out into all that land.”
Some have tried to discount this miracle by saying that the girl was not really dead, but in a coma. They point out that Jesus said that the girl was not dead, but asleep. There are four reasons I believe the girl was dead and that Jesus did raise her up from the dead. 1) The report of all those watching her was that she was dead. 2) Jesus statement can be taken in the same sense that He said of Lazarus in John 11:11 – “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The word “sleep” is a general euphemism for death, but Jesus used it for someone who was not permanently dead. Lazarus was dead and so was this little girl, but neither was permanently dead because Jesus was going to raise them up again. 3) None of the gospel accounts make much sense if the girl was only in a coma and especially Matthew who builds his case in this section that Jesus is the Messiah and presenting increasing proofs of His authority over different things. He started with authority over disease and physical affliction, then over nature, then over the supernatural, then authority to forgive sin. It would make little sense for Matthew to now return to demonstrating Jesus’ authority over disease. The ultimate authority over disease is to be able to reverse the process once the ailment has taken the life. That is why I believe Matthew includes a brief account of this miracle at the end of this section of his gospel account. 4) Luke 8:55 specifically states “and her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.” Death is the separation of the spirit from the body and here we find it returning to the body. Death had occurred and Jesus raised her back to life.
A Proven Authority
Jesus’ authority over death is demonstrated in the case of raising up Jairus’ daughter as in the cases of other people Jesus raised from the dead. D.L. Moody commented that he searched the scriptures to find what message Jesus would bring at a funeral and instead he found that Jesus never gave a funeral message for He would instead raise up the deceased at every funeral He attended. That is significant power over death, but Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus and the widow’s son at Nain all of whom died and were brought back to life by Jesus would eventually die again. All those that Jesus had healed would have eventually gotten sick or suffered some malady and died. Jesus’ power over death would only be proved if He conquered death and remained alive. That is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection.
Jesus was crucified and died as the payment for our sin on Friday. He was buried and then a guard was set and the tomb sealed to keep anyone from stealing His body (Matthew 27:62-66). But on Sunday morning, He rose from the dead, the angels rolled the stone away, and Jesus walked out alive. Over the course of the next forty days over 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus.
Jesus had conquered death again, but would He remain alive? Yes! Just before His ascension Jesus told His disciples that He had been given all authority in heaven and earth and promised that He would be with us, even to the end of the age. He would not die again. Jesus then ascended into heaven where Hebrews 7:25 says “he always lives to make intercession.” And one day He will return in the same manner He departed to gather those who believe in Him, both those physically alive and those who have physically died.
Jesus had conquered death and He has provided a means for us to conquer it through Him. Canadian scientist G.B. Hardy once said in his examination of various religions with regard to the two questions – has anyone every conquered death and if so, did they make a way for me to conquer it – “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 if a way was made for me to do it? And I opened the Bible and discovered that Jesus said, ‘Because I live, you shall live also’” (John 14:19). If that is your hope, rejoice! If it is not, repent and make it your hope today.
Even with technological advance, man can only “__________” death temporarily for all still eventually die
Various religions and philosophies strive to provide man with a way to ____________with death
The two great questions: 1) Has anyone ever _________it? 2) Did they provide a way for ___to conquer it?
Jesus has just returned from a ____________trip to the country of the Garasenes where He cast out demons
Matthew places this account at the __________of his section that demonstrates Jesus’ authority
Jesus returns to Capernaum and is speaking to the crowd when Jairus comes to beg Him to ____his daughter
Jairus would have known about and perhaps had seen Jesus _________people
Jairus does not come to Jesus until the situation is ______________
The greatest block to personal faith in Jesus is not being _______________enough to see the need for it
People tend to think they can make it on their own, or they are ____________of the reaction of other people
Christians are ________in walking with Christ by thinking they are doing okay without pursuing God’s will
Leviticus 15 – A woman in her condition would be ____________and make unclean whatever she touched
This has shut her out of Jewish social for _____________- she was desperate!
She reasoned that since Jesus is so powerful to heal others, she could be healed by _____________His cloak
She touched the outer fringe of Jesus’ garment and her hemorrhaging ______________stopped
Mark 5:30-34 – Jesus did notice her and that made her ____________
She is humble, _______________and Jesus extends to her even more compassion and grace
This passage does not teach that you can claim healing – we ___________it and leave it in God’s hands
Mark 5:35 – Jairus is informed his daughter had ___________- he was too late
Mark 5:36 – Jesus intervenes to give ____________where no hope is left
There are many people at the house weeping, wailing, lamenting, playing dirges on flutes – a ____________
Grief was expressed through 1) _______one’s garments 2) _________women 3) loud, ____________music
Jesus 1) commanded the weeping, wailing and music to _______ 2) Made the mourners ________the house
Mark 5:40-43 ___________________________________________________________________________
The news could not be contained, for the little girl who was known to be dead was ______& walking around
Four reasons to believe she was dead and was to life and not in a comma and revived
2) Jesus used “________” in talking about Lazarus (John 11:11-14) because Jesus was going to raise him up
3) None of the gospel account, and especially Matthew, make ______________if she was not dead
4) Luke 8:55 specifically states her ____________________________, and she arose immediately
Raising people from the dead _________________Jesus’ power over death
But the people Jesus resurrected would die _______, and those He healed could get sick again and would die
Jesus’ authority over death was proven by His own death, burial and resurrection to live ________________
Jesus would not die again for He will be with us to the end of the age and ___________to make intercession
__________Jesus has conquered death, and ___________Jesus provides a way for others to also conquer it.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the Jesus is mentioned. 2) Discuss with your parents how Jesus proved His authority over disease and death.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What are some of the ways that man has been able to prevent death and extend life? Can man really “cheat” death? Explain. Who was the oldest person you have personally known? How old were they when they died? What statements are made multiple times in Genesis 5? How do the various religions seek to cope with death? How do secular philosophies try to cope with death? Where was Jesus when Jairus comes to Him? Where had Jesus come from? What had happened the day before? What is the significance that Jairus was one of the rulers of the synagogue? Would Jairus have known about the miracles Jesus had already performed? Why or why not? What reasons could explain why Jairus does not come to Jesus until his daughter is already at the point of death? What are some of the most common reasons people do not become Christians? If you are not a Christian, why do you continue to hesitate? What is necessary to live the Christian life? Why do some Christians struggle so much in walking with the Lord? Do you? According to Leviticus 15, what restrictions were placed on a woman who continued to hemorrhage? Why would the woman try to touch Jesus’ garment from behind instead of seeking healing from Him face to face? What happened when she touched Jesus’ cloak? What was Jesus’ reaction? Why was she fearful? What is the significance of Jesus calling her “daughter”? Can this passage be used to claim healing from God? Why or why not? How do you think Jairus would have felt when they came and told him his daughter had died? What is Jesus’ reaction to overhearing this news? What was Jesus asking Jairus to believe in Mark 5:36? What were the common practices in Jewish culture at that time when someone died? How does that differ from common practice in our own culture? How did Jesus restore order in the home? Why did the wailing women and flute players laugh at Jesus? Why does Jesus say that the child was asleep and not dead when she was in fact dead? How do we know that she was dead and not in a coma or similar condition? Why does Jesus make everyone but the parents and His three disciples leave the house? How did Jesus raise her from the dead? Why did He tell the parents not to tell anyone about what had happened? Why then did the news about it spread throughout the land? What eventually happened to the people that Jesus had raised from the dead? What eventually happened to the people that Jesus healed? Why is that insufficient to prove authority over death? How does Jesus’ own resurrection differ from those He had raised from the dead and prove His authority over death? What do you believe about Jesus? What will happen to you when you die? How do you know that is what will happen? If you do not know that you will go to heaven after you die, how can you become sure of that (See 1 John 5).
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