Posts Tagged death

“If I have you by the hand, death is nothing but sleep.” -Jesus

Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, pp. 67-69, commenting on Mark 5:38-42:

Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

Do you think it is odd that when Jesus arrives at Jairus’s house he says that the girl is just sleeping? The parallel account of this story in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels make it clear that Jesus understands she’s dead. She’s not mostly dead; she’s all dead. Then why does he make that reference to sleep?

The answer is in what Jesus does next.

Remember, Jesus sits down beside the girl, takes her by the hand, and says two things to her.

The first is talitha. Literally, it means “little girl,” but that does not get across the sense of what he’s saying. This is a pet name, a diminutive term of endearment. Since this is a diminutive that a mother would use with a little girl, probably the best translation is “honey.”

The second thing Jesus says to her is koum, which means “arise.” Not “be resurrected”: it just means “get up.” Jesus id doing exactly what this child’s parents might do on a sunny morning. He sits down, takes her hand, and says, “Honey, it’s time to get up.” And she does.

Jesus is facing facing the most implacable, inexorable enemy of the human race and such is his power that he holds this child by the hand and gently lifts her right up through it. “Honey, get up.”

Jesus is saying by his actions, “If I have you by the hand, death itself is nothing but sleep.” . . .

. . . There’s nothing more frightening for a little child than to lose the hand of the parent in a crowd or in the dark, but that is nothing compared with Jesus’s own loss.

He lost his Father’s hand on the cross.

He went into the tomb so we can be raised out of it.

He lost hold of his Father’s hand so we could know that once he has us by the hand, he will never, ever forsake us.

HT: Justin Taylor

Click here for additional resources by Tim Keller.

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Real-Life 21st Century Martyrdom

The pastors of the Acts29 Network are grieving this week as we’ve learned of the death of one of our fellow pastors in Pakistan. For the last few weeks, we had been receiving updates that this pastor and his brother had been arrested for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. Indications are that these men were wrongly accused as a form of persecution in the almost totally Muslim area.

Here are a few things on my mind as I consider this series of events:

  1. Persecution is still a serious reality in the world. I tend to forget that many people around the world continue to suffer imprisonment and death for the sake of Jesus. These brothers and sisters desperately need prayer (for specific opportunities for prayer, visit Voice of the Martyrs).
  2. My problems are small. The challenges I face and the troubles that seem like a big deal to me are quite small in comparison to true persecution. This is a helpful perspective to remember.
  3. God has a specific plan for martyrs to give him glory. I keep meditating on Revelation 6:10-11 – ‘They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.’ God has a plan and it will not be done until the number of martyrs is complete. Then he will avenge their blood. Look out.
  4. What an honor it is to die for Jesus! True martyrs are not those who are looking for death (i.e. suicide bombers). True martyrs are those who are faithfully serving Jesus and are killed as a result. The apostles counted it a joy to be worthy of suffering for Jesus’ name. How much more would it be an eternal honor to die for him?!
  5. Jesus’ Church will flourish. The old saying goes, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” and history has proven this to be so. When persecution is strong, Jesus is shown to be more valuable than life itself. When this happens, people see his glory and live for him. Jesus builds his church and hell’s gates won’t prevail against it.

In conclusion, let me recommend John Piper’s powerful message, “Doing Missions When Dying is Gain.” It’s worth your time. Pray for Rashid’s family. Pray for God to turn this death for good. And pray that the fame of Jesus would spread.

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Are you making it count?

I helped out with a funeral today for some friends of a family in our church. Though I’m a relatively young man, I have had many opportunities to participate in funerals. It may surprise you to know that I consider those experiences a blessing.

At every funeral, this verse comes to mind:

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)

Indeed, every time you see a lifeless body, hear the cries of loved ones left behind, and hear memories and stories of a vapor-like life, it makes you stop and think.

Someday you and I will die. That is the “end of all mankind.” Will you take it to heart?

Are you doing something today to make sure your life counts?

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Joy-killer #3: Death

Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”

Well, it might seem that death is an obvious joy-killer. After all, we have all experienced the pain that comes in losing a loved one or a close friend. Death, and especially eternal death in hell, are major obstacles to everlating joy.

But it’s not just death itself that robs our joy — it’s also the process. The process of getting old, creaky, wrinkly, saggy, and diseased is a huge joy-killer. All of this is the result of living in a world that is wasting away because of sin. As it is, all creation is subject to “bondage to corruption” (Rom 8:21). This process of dying is an unstoppable force and robs millions of their joy. So, where is the hope to overcome death?

Of course, this hope is in Jesus. The author of Hebrews says that since Jesus took on a human body and entered into death himself, he destroyed the power of death and frees us from the never-ending fear of death (Heb 2:14-15). Those who love Christ will never die (John 11:26). This is the great news of the gospel. Everlasting joy is given to those who love Jesus and approach him in faith.

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