Little One, Arise!

Click here to listen to this sermon.

“Taking her by the hand [Jesus] said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise’” (Mark 5:41).
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
A pastor once prayed at the bedside of a little girl who was dying of leukemia. He boldly prayed for healing of the little girl’s weak and dying body. When he finished, the little girl asked, “I will be healed, won’t I, Pastor?”
The pastor paused for a moment and with confidence said, “Yes, you will. I promise you. You will be healed.”
Following the prayer and further conversation in the hospital room, the little girl’s father followed the pastor into the hallway and asked, “How you can be so sure, Pastor, that she’ll be healed when she’s so close to death? Is it wise to promise her something that may not happen?”
The pastor put his hand on the shoulder of the saddened and exhausted father and said gently, “Little Kerry will be healed, if not this side of heaven, then on the other side. What’s more,” the pastor said, “she has been healed. As the prophet Isaiah tells us of the Messiah, ‘By His wounds we are healed.’ Christ’s death and resurrection has healed us of our greatest infirmities—sin and death.” Those words, showing how healing in Christ transcends even death, brought the father some of the first hope he had heard in the three year ordeal of Kerry’s illness.
Just a few day later, as they stood at her graveside, Kerry’s father, with both tears and smile, said to his pastor, “My little girl is healed.”  
In today’s text, we find the story of another little girl who was sick and dying. Her father, Jairus, came looking for Jesus. As soon as he saw Him, he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged for help: “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”
Jesus turned at once to go with the pleading father. Jairus’ faith impressed the Lord. Jairus was sure that Jesus could perform this miracle, if only Jesus would consent to come and lay His healing hands on his dying daughter. But before anything happened the father first would have his patience tested.
As Jesus walked through the crowd that pressed upon Him, a woman who had been suffering from an embarrassing medical condition for twelve long years reached out to touch Jesus’ cloak. She was immediately healed.
Despite the urgency of getting to Jairus’ little girl, Jesus took the time to reassure the woman that her faith had healed her. She was free from her suffering. And even more important, she was saved from her sins. By faith the woman had received both physical healing and spiritual salvation.
Imagine the thoughts swirling through Jairus’ head during all of this: “Come on, Jesus! Let’s get going! Valuable seconds are wasting away! This woman has been suffering for twelve years. Her case is not exactly a matter of life and death. You can heal her later. But my little girl is dying!”
While Jesus was still speaking to the woman, some messengers from Jairus’ house came: “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” they said. Jesus heard this message and it gave Him cause for concern. Jairus had shown that he trusted the Lord, but there was a great danger that this news would smother his faith. Fear is incompatible with faith. So, Jesus gave him a word to bolster his wavering confidence: “Do not fear, only believe.” Jesus’ command had its intended effect. The distraught father’s fragile faith survived.
Then Jesus turned away the entire crowd, including most of His disciples. Only Peter, James, and John were allowed to come along to Jairus’ house as witnesses. When they arrived, there was a great commotion. People were sobbing and wailing loudly. Jesus told the group of mourners that their demonstration was not necessary. “The child is not dead but sleeping,” He said.
Those are the words of a man that lives in the certainty of the resurrection, Jesus Christ, who conquers and binds death. They are comforting words for anyone who will believe them. But to those who do not believe, those words sound only like nonsense. The mourners turned to “laughers” at Jesus’ appraisal of the situation. Their derisive laughter shows a lack of understanding on their part, but it did not deter the Lord a bit. He cleared the room of the mourners. Only the girl’s parents and the three disciples were allowed to be present. Then Jesus grasped her hand and said, “Talitha cumi!” which means “Little girl, arise!” Immediately, she stood up and started to walk around. Life, health, and full strength returned to her once lifeless body. No trace of the disease that had caused her death remained. As if to confirm the miracle, Jesus told her parents to give her something to eat—a little breakfast after being aroused from the sleep of death.
Sleep—that’s an important word. Throughout the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus used the metaphor of sleep to represent death. When He encountered the mourners at work, Jesus told them that the little girl is not dead but asleep. This does not mean she didn’t really die. Luke tells us, “her spirit returned,” which leaves no doubt that the girl truly had been dead. Jesus just planned to wake her back up to life. With His words, “Talitha cumi!” “Little girl, arise!” Jesus continued to liken the 12-year-old girl’s death to sleep. To Jesus, it was no more difficult to raise her from the dead, than it would be to rouse her from a night’s sleep by calling to her. “Rise and shine sleepyhead!”
Imagine that! With Jesus, there’s no need to fear death any more than you would be afraid to go to sleep at night. You can just close your eyes and trust that Jesus will wake you up when the time is right! It’s just like one of my favorite hymn verses: “Teach me to live that I may dread the grave as little as my bed. Teach me to die that so I may rise glorious at the awe-full day” (LSB 883). Death, in the sight of Christ the Lord, is nothing but a sleep.
With that in mind, let us take the idea of sleep as a way of describing death and see how Jesus works among many of us today. For each of us face a number of “deaths” that call for awakenings.
Some of us may be “dying on the vine,” wasting away with little productivity. We may feel like life is leaving us behind and we’re worried that we’ll reach the end and that we’ll have nothing to show for all of our efforts.
We may be “dead tired,” feeling exhausted and burnt out. Ready to throw in the towel, just give up, and let someone else step in and take our place.
We may be “dead to the world,” unaware of our opportunities and challenges. So caught up in our own day-to-day affairs and our own wants and desires, we miss the many opportunities that we have to serve the kingdom of God.
We may be at a “dead-end,” detoured and stalled. Feeling that we’ll never be able to overcome the obstacles and hurdles that have been placed in our path.
We may be “dead in the water,” under attack and discouraged. It seems like the whole world has risen against us, and we’ve been left with absolutely no hope.
And we were all certainly “dead in our transgressions and sins,” following the ways of this world and its ruler, Satan. All of us have lived there at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following it desires and thoughts. But because of His rich love for us, God made us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5). To each of us, Jesus says, Talitha cumi!” “Little one, arise!”
To those who feel they’re “dying on the vine,” Jesus says, “Little one, arise!” “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit… If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:5-8).
To those who feel “dead tired,” Jesus says, “Little one, arise!” “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).  
To those who feel “dead to the world,” Jesus says, “Little one, arise!” “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
To those who feel at a “dead-end,” Jesus says, “Little one, arise!” “I have said these things to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
To those who feel “dead in the water,” Jesus says “Little one, arise! “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-29).
To those who are “dead in our trespasses and sins,” Jesus says, “Little one, arise!” “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).
“Little one, arise!” What does it take for you to trust Jesus when He says that? Does He have to show you that He can raise a little one from the dead? He has. Or does He have to show you that He Himself is willing to die for you and rise for you to prove His power over every form of death? He has. Jesus has earned your trust.
So get up, little one! Rise and shine, sleepyhead! It’s time to get busy. Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60).
You are alive in Christ! Because Christ has risen, death no longer has any power over you. By the power of God’s Word, you have been awakened from the death of sin. You’ve been given new life in Jesus Christ to serve in His kingdom! To share the Good News of His forgiveness and grace until the day He returns.
On that great and glorious day, the Lord Himself will come down from heaven. With a loud command—perhaps, “Little one, arise!”—He will awaken all those who have fallen asleep, and we and the other dead in Christ shall rise to eternal life. We will be caught up together in the clouds and we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore let us encourage one another with these words. Let us remember that in baptism our sin was put to death so that our new man could rise and live in righteousness and purity forever. Let us remember that in Christ’s hands death is no more than a sleep and that we shall live with Him forever. Let us tell others of God’s grace in Jesus Christ so that they may share our hope of the resurrection as well. Here is the Word that brings healing in the midst of sickness and suffering, Here is the Word that brings live in the midst of death: “Little one, arise! You are forgiven for all of your sins.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Solemn Promise from God and before God: A Sermon for the Wedding of Greg & Jessi McCormick

A Wonderful Mystery: An Address for the Wedding of James & Rebecca Dubro

The Lord Is My Shepherd: A Funeral Sermon