Death is Not the End | Mark 5:38–43
38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 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. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Jesus, the disciples, and Jairus walk alone toward the house, and Jairus has been wondering what Jesus could do. He’s with Jesus in faith that something could be done for his precious little girl, but now their ears are greeted with the sound of commotion. The family would have hired professional mourners to help announce the passing to the community, a common practice in the day that even included flutes (cf. Mt 9:23). This sad sound confirms the news they received—Jairus’s daughter is dead.
Yet, in the sorrow of the moment, Jesus replies that the girl is simply asleep. One can imagine the confusion and anger arising as they ridicule Christ. It’s not as though they’d announce the death of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue if they weren’t sure she was dead. So, Jesus’s words of promise seem foolish to the unbelieving world, as would any teaching on the resurrection of the dead (cf. Acts 17:30). Even so, the promise remains for those who today mourn a loved one in the Lord.
Death for believers is like sleep. Jesus wasn’t lying when He said that she was asleep, and He gave the same description He did with Lazarus in John 11:11. In both cases, their deaths were reversed, and so, the death of all saints is considered sleep (Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1 Cor 15:6, 20, 51; 1 Thes 4:13–14). It’s not that the soul sleeps within the body, for death occurs when the spirit leaves the body (Js 2:26) and goes to be with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). Even so, the bodies of all saints will be raised again.
Death is rolled back by Christ. He speaks so tenderly, and the Aramaic word “Talitha” can be translated “Lamb.” His sheep know His voice (Jn 10:27), and the Greek makes the “I” emphatic; “I myself say to you arise.” He heals her so completely that she gets out of bed and begins to walk—she’s even ready to eat something! “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).