The Last Laugh

TEXT

Matthew 9:18-26

18 As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt before him. “My daughter has just died,” he said, “but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her.” 19 So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. 20 Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, 21 for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”  22 Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.  23 When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. 24 “Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him. 25 After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! 26 The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.
 

INTRODUCTION

I love this story. Actually we have two miracles; in fact we have a miracle in a miracle but I want to talk about the latter. The first miracle in the text is a miracle of healing. By this time in Jesus life and ministry, everyone knew that he was a healer. It is getting to the point where no one is shocked when Jesus heals a person of some physical or mental abnormality or sickness. I want to focus of miracle number two: Jesus raising Jairus daughter back to life. Mark and Luke tell us that a messenger came to Jairus before he and Jesus got to the house with the news that his daughter had died and that there was no need in troubling Jesus. Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”

 

When they got to Jairus’ house, it was packed with mourners weeping and wailing. Jesus took the parents and Peter, James and John and went in where the girl lay. Jesus said, “Why all this commotion and weeping [carrying on]?This child is not dead, she’s only sleeping..” Luke says in 8:53, “But the crowd laughed at Jesus because they all knew that she was dead.”

I am going to share something with you that I have shared at many grave sides over the past few years. I was waiting in a Doctor’s office some five or six years back and I picked up a news letter from some Christian group. The statement that caught my attention and lodged in my brain was this…Infinity is the greatest reality. No one, no matter how liberal can argue with infinity. These blooming idiots who came up with the BIG BANG theory and other ridiculous theory’s as to how the earth came to be have no explanation for original matter. Their asinine theory of evolution goes back to a one cell ameba [some spell it amoeba] but where did the ameba come from. They come up with all this ridiculous dating: this is 40 million years old and that is 20 million years old. They are like drunks stumbling through a dark room and falling on the furniture. They are parrots repeating what someone said or taught in a college class room and they have no idea what they are talking about. The one question they cannot answer is when did it all start and who or what was the primary cause? The world of philosophy has commonly agreed that there is an infinite power and intellect behind creation. We as Christians answer the question of when, how and whom with one word, God! In the beginning God. For believers in God and only fools do not believe in God, the greatest reality is God. Moffatt always translates YHWH as “The Eternal” and he has it right. Yahweh in the Hebrew verb for being. It is a unique word because it contains every tense. I AM is the most popular but it also means…

  • I AM that I AM
  • I AM because I AM
  • I AM since I AM
  • I AM because I was
  • I was because I AM
  • I will always be what I AM
  • I AM what I will always be
  • I AM since I will always be
  • I will always be because I AM
  • Since I have always been, I will always be

There are probably hundreds of tenses and all of them are true of God: He is who He has always been and He will always be who He is. I like the way the black preacher stated this truth. He was going to preach on the 23rd Psalm and he never got past the first three words, “The LORD is.” He said, “The LORD is, He always has been is and he always will be is.” God’s name Yahweh means that He is self-existent, eternal and infinite. So for believers, the greatest of all realities is the Eternal One, Yahweh [God, Jesus]. When Peter made his confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi, he said, “You are Christ [Messiah], the Son of the Living God.”

1. So that is where we want to start: God is a God of the Living. He is the author and giver of life. Death cannot survive in His presence.

In Matthew 22 we have and encounter between the Sadducees and Jesus. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection. They believed that death was it, I guess that is why people called them Sad-U-sees.  They asked Jesus a trick question but he was not fooled by their foolishness. Let’s look at Jesus response…Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven. “But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said,  ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead.”  When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching. God, our heavenly Father is alive, He is the living God and the source of all life. Jesus Christ His son is alive and He has life in Himself.

2. Now we need to establish Jesus had his feet in both worlds. His deity made HIM the unique man.

Even when Jesus feet were standing on earth and in time, He also knew what was going on in eternity. He had His feet on earth and His head in heaven, so to speak. In eternity, there is no death other than the second death which is eternal separation from God. We do not presently [in this world] live in the land of the living, this is the land of the dying. The land of hospitals and funeral homes. We are moving toward eternity and therein lies the land of the living where there is no dying. Because Jesus knew this as a fact, he viewed physical death as sleep. He said of Jairus daughter, “She is not dead, she is asleep.” In John 11, Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” What did it take to wake Lazarus? The spoken word of Jesus, “Lazarus come forth.” In Luke 7:14, Jesus said to thewidow of Nain son,“Young man, I say to you, arise.” It is the same word for awaking a person from sleep, “Get up.” In the N.T. Jesus spoke to people who were physically dead and when he spoke to them, they came to life, they awoke and got up. There was healing in His words and there was life in His words. Jesus trumps death. He is greater than death.

3. Now lets talk about our senses and how they deceive us.

Luke points out that the professional mourners “Knew” the girl was dead. Their experience, their common sense and their five senses told them that she was dead. You see a body getting cold and pale, there is not pulse or breath and you reach the conclusion that she is dead. This is what they did: they examined her and there were not signs of life and they declared her dead. In the minds of the mourners, she was dead but Jesus never accepted that sentence, in His mind, she was not dead, only sleeping and what He thinks is infinitely greater than what we think. Let me explain if I can. Although very few people around Him that day understood that He was God, Jesus knew who He was. He knew that this girl would not remain as she was…in time she had died…but Jesus sees things from the eternal perspective and so He is not seeing her the way they are seeing her. Because Jesus could see the final outcome, he refused to say that she was dead. He never says that she is dead, He says that she is asleep. In other words your death here on earth is not the final outcome. Yes, we all die here, that is our mode of transformation, but we are alive in eternity. When you look through the unbelieving lens of this world, you see death. When you look with eyes of faith with Jesus perspective, you see sleep, a temporary rest between time and eternity. The point is: Jesus was a greater reality than physical death. I am not saying that physical death is not real  but I am saying this: it is not the ultimate reality, it is in fact the greatest illusion.

I know, you think I am crazy but study the story…these people thought that Jesus was crazy. They said, “Asleep my foot, this girl is dead as a hammer. We have seen death many times and trust me, this kid is dead.” [JEV] Then to cap off their ignorance, they laughed at the Son of God and author of life. Let me put it this way, it does not matter what your experience tells you or what your senses feel, if Jesus doesn’t pronounce a person dead, they are not dead. You are wasting time and energy declaring someone dead that Jesus says is “Not dead!” It is not over until Jesus says its over. You are not dead until He declares you dead.

I am not trying to be facetious, we have to come to a point in faith where we take Jesus word over our feelings. This is why Jesus had the last laugh. They were going by their senses and He was operating with infinite power. Our senses cannot comprehend His infinite power and this is where faith comes in to play. If Jesus says it, just take Him at His word no matter what your senses tell you. This is why I refer to physical death as the greatest illusion. Physical death looks so real that 99% of us are fooled by its appearance. Jesus told Martha, Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never die.” Then he said to Martha, “Do you believe this?” Let me offer you some help in believing. Dallas Willard points out in the Divine Conspiracy, “We are never-ceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in the full world of God.” Remember also what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD.” When a person is in a deep sleep, we refer to it as being “Dead to the world,” and that is the only death a Christian will suffer, death to this world. In reality, you and I will go right on living in another dimension.

Dwight L. Moody was a spiritual giant of the 19th century and he said, “One day soon you will hear that I am dead. Do not believe it. I will be alive like never before.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a man that I deeply admire. He could have lived a long and prosperous life but he choose to be a martyr for Christ. You cannot question the integrity of a martyr. On the way to the gallows he told a friend, “This is the end [here on earth], but for me it is the beginning of life.” Dietrich wanted to live in a world where there were not Hitler’s. Because of Adolph Hitler, Dietrich Bonhoeffer never had a life of peace and happiness. He was engaged but never got married. Hitler had him hung with slick wire two weeks before the war ended.

Peter Marshall, the great Presbyterian of yester year used the analogy of child when talking about our transition from one world to another. Children play until they get so tired they just fall asleep where they lay or play. Mother or daddy picked them up and puts them in bed. The next thing they know, they have awaken to a new day and they don’t even remember falling asleep. They did not see sleep coming; they did not taste it or feel it. John Henry Newman said, “We have not see it all,” I would venture to say, we haven’t seen a fraction. C.S. Lewis believed that he would take an eternity to see it all. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has any man imagined what awaits us. 

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