Death is sleep

In Mark 5 Jesus raises Jairus’ dead daughter to life.  A little while before Jairus, a synagogue ruler, approached Jesus, the itinerant preacher, for help.  The request was highly irregular:  Jairus was a respected, honourable man in that culture.  Yet, he falls (quite unceremoniously) at the feet of a homeless, poor, miracle worker’s feet and begs Jesus to heal his desperately ill daughter.  Jesus agrees to go with Jairus to his house.

On the way they hear that the girl has died.  Jesus surprisingly says that she isn’t dead, but only sleeping.  Why did Jesus say that? Was he mistaken? 

Jesus wanted to make a point about death.  Human beings view death as permanent and sleep as temporary.  You go to sleep expecting to wake up.  You anticipate being alive the next day.  Death is the opposite. It’s permanent. No anticipation. No expectation. You’re dead.

 

 Next Jesus goes into the girl’s room and takes her by the hand. This was a controversial act as Jewish law said that a corpse was ceremonially unclean and anyone touching a corpse became unclean.  Jesus then says, “Little girl, I tell you, get up”.  As we see throughout Mark 4-5, creation must obey it creator.  The storm must quiet down, the legion of demons must leave and the little girl must become alive again.   Mark wants us to understand that Jesus is not a spiritual teacher, but God with us, in the person of his Son, Jesus.  Jesus is God.  All other views about Jesus are blasphemous.

One of the learnings from this account is that death to Jesus and to the Christian is sleep.  Death is not the end and it’s not permanent.  It is temporary and transitory.  Jesus died and rose again on the third day destroying the power of death over his people.  When we finally lay down our heads it is in the expectation and anticipation of being in the presence of Jesus.  We remember that Jesus said to the dying man next to him on the cross: Today, you will be with me in paradise.