Mark 5:39 “Entering the house, Jesus said to the people, ‘Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died but is asleep.”
Jairus’ daughter lay dead in the room. Nobody had any doubt. She had been that way long enough for the professional mourners and wailers to arrive and gather outside. Jairus had desperately tried to reach Jesus in time — a last ditch effort to save his child — but failed. The pall of grief hung over the home when he returned.
Understandable. Natural. All too common. Death had flexed its muscles once more.
Jesus accompanied the father to the home. But how differently He responded this time than in the later incident with Lazarus, over whom He wept before raising him from the dead. This time, Jesus appears to chide the people for their weeping and grieving. Why?
We’d mis-hear the story if we concluded that Christ-followers should never mourn or grieve. Tears and sadness always have a place in a fallen world marked by pain and loss. Christianity is not a new form of Stoicism, calling us to Vulcan-like rationality. Raw emotions can be expressed.
Perhaps in this moment Jesus simply challenges despair. If we will trust Him, we remain a people of hope even when we experience loss. Death hurts. It separates us. It can hurl us into loneliness or fear. But can we grieve our loss while still holding to hope? Is it possible to see death as nothing more final than sleep? (“She is not dead, but asleep.”) Do we believe — can we believe — that we shall all awaken together in the morning, because Christ has come to the house?
Jesus took the child by the hand, in private, and said “Little girl, get up!” And immediately she did.
He continues to do this for all who die in Christ. In private, away from the stare of the crowd and the glare of publicity, He still takes the dead by the hand and invites them to “get up.”
The incident with Jairus and his daughter, provides a profound picture of eternity. Desperation turns into confidence. Despair becomes certainty. Death loses its finality.
Weep with those who weep. Mourn with those who mourn. And tell the story again of Jairus’ daughter.