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Don't Be Afraid! Just Believe!

(39)

Sermon shared by Charles Degner

June 1991
Summary: Jesus shows Jairus that we have a God with skin on - someone who understands our pain and weaknesses, but who can do something about it!
Denomination: Lutheran
Audience: General adults
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The blind man is begging Jesus to restore his sight. An interesting detail in the picture shows that the blind man had left his cane lying alongside the road. With that little detail, the artist portrayed the faith of the blind man. While he was still blind, he believed that the Lord would heal him and that he would not need his cane again.
Friends, when you have reached your darkest hour... when you absolutely cannot go on any farther... when it seems as if God has not been listening to your prayers... when your sorrow is so deep that it feels as if you will never smile again... when you think things cannot get any worse but they do... then listen to Jesusí words in our text. Donít be afraid. Just believe. Go with Jesus just a little while longer. Because if you do...

II. YOUR FAITH WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED
When they got to Jairusí house, the mourners were already there. It was the custom in those days to hire mourners who would weep and wail. Together with members of the family, who mourned in all earnestness, there was quite a commotion. Jesus said to them, "WHY ALL THIS COMMOTION AND WAILING? THE CHILD IS NOT DEAD BUT ASLEEP." Perhaps it was the professional mourners who laughed in Jesusí face. And can we learn from what Jesus did not do? In the face of such open mockery and unbelief, he did not turn and leave. Nor did he rail against them. He just calmly excused all of them from the house while he took the childís mother and father and his three disciples, Peter, James, and John, into the little girlís room. Now he would demonstrate for this man whose faith was stretched to the breaking point that he was indeed "God with skin on" - the Messiah come in the flesh. "HE TOOK HER BY THE HAND AND SAID TO HER, íTALITHA KOUM!í (WHICH MEANS, íLITTLE GIRL, I SAY TO YOU, GET UP!í). IMMEDIATELY THE GIRL STOOD UP AND WALKED AROUND (SHE WAS TWELVE YEARS OLD). AT THIS THEY WERE COMPLETELY ASTONISHED." The translation doesnít do justice to the reaction of this little girlís parents. Literally, the Greek says that they were ecstatic with ecstasy. They were beyond joy and happiness.
Can you imagine how they felt? Perhaps not. But someday we will. Because in a way, we have also been asked to make this leap of faith. We stand by the graves of our loved ones - a father, a mother, a son or daughter, a husband or a wife. And Jesus says to us, "Donít be afraid. Just believe. Heís only sleeping."
Can we make this leap of faith? In a recent article in the Northwestern Lutheran, a woman describes her feelings at the death of her father. "As we watch the casket go into the ground, I feel almost nothing. That isnít my Father in there. Itís just some mannequin dressed up in Dadís new suit, bought only last month. I make myself touch his cheek - that soft, talcum-smelling skin crinkled from years of smiling - and I shudder at the plastic feel of it. Thatís not something God made anymore; its chemicals and funeral-parlor artistry. It is not my dad. When he left, he took the essence of his body with him. My mind understands this, but my heart yearns to talk to him again. I wish I could share musings, jokes, and puzzles..." Can we look at the lifeless body of our loved one and believe Jesusí words, "Heís only sleeping"?
We can. We must. Because our God with skin on proved his power over death.
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