6th Pentecost Sunday
July 1, 2018
Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
Sioux Falls, SD
Rev. Norman F. Seeger
When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him…
…While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
“Jesus is the Lord of Our Life”
1) Jesus is Open to Jairus’s Prayer
2) Jesus’ Answer Exceeds Jairus’s Request
Dear disciple of Jesus the Christ,
When death threatens, how do we respond? We naturally fight for our life. We struggle to stop the bleeding, whether life is oozing or spurting out of our body. We gasp for breath. Even in the last minutes of earthly life, we instinctively try to inhale oxygen a little longer. When death threatens, we wrestle against our attackers or we run for safety with adrenalin-fueled strength we never knew we possessed. Facing possible death, we naturally seek shelter from tornadoes, lightning; huge hailstones, from whatever storm threatens us. We naturally seek shelter, we fight for our life because God did not design our physical body to just lie down & die.
If illness is the enemy – if it is not another evil individual attacking us, but if something between a cold & a cancer invades our body — how will we fight for life? Medicine, rest, eating healthier food & regular exercise are often prescribed by our doctor to deter death – to protect & improve our life. But what if our doctor runs out of answers? What if our illness is labeled terminal? For example, if our son – if a nephew is battling deadly bacteria whose origin doctors are unable to explain; whose treatment is not defined by any established, previously successful medical game-plan – is there anything we can do, or must I unnaturally just lie down to die? As we recently urged members to, we will pray. We ask the almighty Lord of Life to be merciful – just the way Jairus asks for Jesus’ aid when his daughter is dying. Open to Jairus’s prayer, Jesus’ answer exceeds Jairus’s request, leaving no doubt Jesus is the Lord of Life. Jesus is the Lord of our physical life, the Lord of our spiritual life; the Lord of our eternal life!
Jairus’s doctors had apparently given up any hope of curing whatever disease was attacking his daughter. A synagogue leader could access to the best medical care of that day. But human healers have limits. Even with specialized care we commonly find in our medical community today – even while research into specific sicknesses develops life-saving cures unknown a generation ago — no earthly doctor is able to extend earthly life indefinitely. Jairus’s simple statement tells us where we are at, ‘My little daughter is dying.’ Not sick, not suffering, ‘my little daughter is dying.’ We find a loving father helpless, but not hopeless. ‘Falling at Jesus’ feet, Jairus earnestly pleads, ‘Please come & put your hands on her so she will be healed & live.’’ Can you hear his confidence? Jairus is not grasping at straws, not taking one last long shot, not asking to use some experimental drug that will maybe be a silver bullet for her sickness. If Jesus puts his hands on her, Jairus’s daughter ‘will be healed; will live.’ Jesus’ previous miracles prove his power to preserve life.
Jairus’s only question is whether or not Jesus will be willing to come to his house, to place healing hands on his dying daughter. We could argue this should not be a question, for was there ever a sick friend or relative Jesus refused to heal? Did Jesus pause for even a second to think about Jairus’s request. Apparently not. Mark immediately reports, ‘Jesus went with him.’ Jairus’s prayer is answered. The Lord of life is open to his request, as the Lord is always eager to hear, always willing; always able to answer our prayers. ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble,’ almighty God invites & instructs believers through psalmist Asaph, promising, ‘I will deliver you; you will glorify me.’[PS 50] In troubled times – long before death is at our door – while we suffer some simple sickness; not necessarily waiting for an incurable illness – our Lord asks us to pray, to seek his help even as we consult our earthly medical experts. Inviting our prayers, the Lord promises to answer, just the way Jesus immediately answers Jairus’s 9-1-1 call for help.
God always answers our every prayer. Yet the Lord’s loving response is not always our preferred result. God saying ‘no’ is an answer to prayer as well as God saying ‘yes.’ For example, the Lord saying, ‘No, Pastor Pfeifer is not coming; No, Pastor Fischer is not coming to serve as Good Shepherd’s associate is an answer to our prayer – ultimately a better answer than one we wanted to hear. Even when the Lord responds the way we desire, solutions come when he is ready, not necessarily following our time-table. Heading toward Jairus’s home to heal his daughter, Jesus appears to be delayed. A woman suffering some type of internal bleeding for twelve years – as long as Jairus’s daughter was alive – ‘touches Jesus’ cloak, thinking she will be healed.’ ‘Her bleeding stops immediately.’ Jesus also stops to specifically talk with this woman so she will not superstitiously think touching his robe has any ability to save, but she will know her healing flows through her trust in Jesus’ power, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace; be freed from your suffering.’
While proving his power to heal, Jesus’ conversation with this woman does delay his trip to Jairus’s house — apparently, a fatal delay! Messengers from home sadly report, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?’ What heartbreaking news for a sad dad! Miraculous healer Jesus is open to his request; is coming to heal his daughter. Now, it is too late. Fortunately, before Jairus despairs, Jesus says, ‘Do not be afraid; just believe.’ No promise here other than that there is nothing to really fear as we follow Jesus. Jairus follows, with Peter, James & John, follows Jesus to his humanly hopeless home, where ‘people are crying & wailing loudly.’ Mourners certifying his little daughter’s death ‘laugh at Jesus’ saying, ‘the child is not dead but asleep.’ Jairus will not laugh, but undoubtedly wonders what Jesus is saying. What does ‘asleep’ really mean? It does not mean his daughter is in a coma, from which one could recover, but it does mean her death will not end her earthly life today because Jesus’ answer to prayer is about to exceed Jairus’s request.
Jairus asks Jesus to turn sickness into health. Jesus will rather turn death into life. The Lord ‘who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us’[EPH 3] moves the mourners outside. ‘Jesus takes the child’s father, mother & his three disciples where the child is. Taking her by the hand, Jesus says to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’)’ Why will anyone waste their time issuing commands to a corpse? Coroners do not try to prevent death, coroners only try to determine what caused an individual’s death. But Jesus, because he is God as well as man, is not bound by human limitations. Jesus commands this corpse to get up. ‘Immediately the girl stands up & begins to walk around (she is twelve years old, we are told). At this they are completely astonished.’ Is anyone able to measure the joy suddenly flooding Jairus’s heart? Is there any question Jesus is the creator of life, the restorer of life? Can there be any doubt Jesus is God, the promised Savior of our soul, as well as our body?
Jesus ‘gives strict orders not to let anyone know about this,’ not wanting souls to only focus on physical help he is able to offer, but wanting his miracles to prove ‘Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, so by believing in him we may have life (have eternal life) in his name.’[JN 20] Now Jesus ‘tells them to give the girl something to eat.’ Providing life for her body – intending to preserve her physical health – our Lord Jesus also wants us to live healthy, to preserve the body he gives us for our life in this world. But when we face death – while we will still naturally fight to preserve our life — Jesus wants us to know he has an even better life in store for us to enjoy with him in heaven because a powerful Lord of Life already raised us from spiritual death to spiritual life.in Christ — giving us faith, leading us to trust Jesus our Righteous Replacement fully; freely redeems us from our sins with his death & resurrection as our Savior/Substitute.
Alive in Christ; living in Christ today, what will we believers expect if death threatens today? If our little daughter is dying, if our mother may be dying, if I myself am dying – while praying for Jesus’ aid — will I expect to be amazed by God miraculously reversing death doctors anticipate? Please understand, our Lord is always able to preserve earthly life. God does indeed miraculously; unnaturally restore physical health in our world more often that we might imagine. But we dare not ever expect our bodies to live forever. However, when physical health fails, we saints rightly expect: When we fall asleep in death, we will wake up in heaven.
Why will we wake up in heaven? Why would Jairus’s little daughter open her eyes; begin to breathe again? Why will she ‘Get up?’ Jesus provides all the power. God’s commands — our Lord’s promises — never remain unfulfilled. Facing death, as we hear our about-to-be-crucified Savior tell us, ‘Trust in God. Trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back & take you to be with me, so you also may be where I am,’[JN 14] we faithful followers of Jesus can calmly, confidently close our eyes — we can fall asleep in death — knowing our risen, ascended, ruling Lord Jesus will lead us from here into heaven through our earthly death. Yes, our Savior will wake us up in his heavenly home as surely as Jesus woke up Jairus’s daughter in her earthly home.
Facing death, will I fight for life? Naturally! Instinctively, I try to survive a physical battle we will all ultimately lose. Do we ever just lie down & die? Not the way God created our bodies! Thankfully, the way God re-creates us — raising our soul from sin’s death by giving us faith, giving us spiritual life in Christ — saints can fearlessly face physically death knowing the Lord will then be translating spiritual life we enjoy today into eternal, heavenly life we will enjoy with Jesus forever.