Let’s Call It For What It Is

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him…[Then], some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. – Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

They are called “euphemisms.” They are words we use to make things sound good when we want to talk about things that are not all that good. For example, “euthanasia” means literally, “good death,” but it is honestly hard to imagine any death being all that good.

But when is a “euphemism” not a “euphemism”? The crowd outside the house of the synagogue ruler, Jairus, did not know. All they could do was mock and laugh at Jesus. “How could Jesus be such a fool? He thinks that the dead girl is sleeping?” Anyone who has held the lifeless body of a little one – she was twelve – in his arms knows the difference between the slow, steady breathing of a child at rest, and the cold, lifelessness, breathless corpse of one now dead.

And Jairus and his wife? What is this casual, almost cavalier way of talking about the knife that went through their hearts and souls? “Sleeping?”

Yet the word “sleeping” is far closer to reality than our “dead and gone,” or even “gone but not forgotten.” “Sleeping” better describes what happens to the body when it, like a tent is packed away after camping, just waiting for the next trip.

When believers in Jesus die, the holy angels carry the souls of God’s children to heaven and place them in the powerful, yet tender arms of the Savior. There safe and surrounded in glory, they live and reign to all eternity. At the same time their bodies, but only their bodies, “rest” in the earth, eagerly awaiting the words of Jesus when he returns on the Last Day.

The two little words Jesus spoke are so special that they have been saved for us in Jesus’ original Aramaic, “Talitha, koum!” “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” And she did! By the power of Jesus she was raised from the dead.

Imagine the joy of the child’s mother and father, as they saw first-hand the resurrection of their daughter from the dead. By Jesus’ almighty power, her lifeless body immediately stood up and walked around the room. No weak wobbling! No slow recovery starting with clear liquids. That little girl needed lunch!

How blind are the mockers who could not see the power of Jesus! How foolish the doubters who cannot see the resurrection of the body!

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, we trust that you will take believers by the hand and speak your powerful words of resurrection to us, “I tell you, get up!” We eagerly await your return and our bodily resurrection to life everlasting. Amen.


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