Arise!

June 30th, 2012 Posted in writing

The story of Jesus’ raising the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue official (Mark, chapter 5), recounts his confrontation with death and with the mourners at Jairus’ house. We naturally focus on Jesus’ restoring life, but it’s worth paying attention to his confrontation with the mourners as well.

Such mourners were professionals, hired to provide dramatic, loud and organized grieving when a death occurred. Their presence made it clear that death had taken away a life, thus bearing testimony to death’s power and inevitability.

We may not have professional mourners in our society, but there definitely are people who loudly and relentlessly insist that death will always have the last word. They may be talking about the death of a relationship between friends or family members or the futility of our efforts to bring about justice, peace and reconciliation in our world and in our churches.

Whether they come from outside ourselves or from inside, such voices weigh us down and sap our hope. But just as Jesus wouldn’t accept the fatalistic, negative voices which declared that death was all-powerful, we don’t need to accept them either.

Jesus silenced the mourners and ordered them to leave. Then he spoke to the girl, “Little girl, I say to you, ‘Arise!’” And to the amazement of her parents and the disciples he’d brought with him, that’s just what she did.

We should remember, then, that Christ’s power can deny death its seeming victories; and, thus, our hopes are not just illusions. Those who tell us differently don’t deserve to be heard.

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