Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 2, No. 7 Page 12 July 2000

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Diagnosis: Sin,
Prognosis: Death,
Cure: Christ

By Ben Overby

There are few burdens heavier for parents to carry, than that of seeing their children suffer. Worse still, is the death of a child. Of all the various crises that we might encounter, the death of one’s child is the most traumatic. All other forms of crisis can eventually be “laid to rest.” However, the death of a child creates pain that is never completely dispelled.

Do you remember David’s reaction to his child’s sickness? When his child was very ill, David could not eat and he rejected the efforts of his associates in raising him from the ground. The illness of his child had “floored him,” both literally and figuratively. (See 2 Samuel 12:16-17.)

In Matthew 9, Mark 5 and Luke 8, we learn of a man named Jarius who was a ruler in the synagogue at Capernaum. Typically, those who were closely attached to the synagogue did not embrace Jesus. John 12:42-43 reports,

“Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [it], lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.”
Ah, but Jarius had a greater burden than that of concern over being thrown out of the synagogue. His daughter was sick. She was very sick! In fact, she was at the point of death.

Jarius must have felt desperate. There was no highly advanced hospital that specialized in children’s illnesses to take the 12-year-old girl. Imagine the state of mind you would be in if you were facing the possibility of loosing a child to some disease. I remember years ago that my little brother was diagnosed with spinal meningitis. For a while, we did not know if his illness was treatable or not. For that short time, nothing mattered except his health. He lay in the hospital with a fever that refused to subside. To this day, one of the most horrific images in my mind is the memory of waking up in the hospital bed next to him, holding his hand while the nurse searched for a vein in which she could insert an IV. He was brave as a little boy could be, as the tears rolled down his cheeks due to fear and pain. The feeling of helplessness was one that I never want to experience again. My brother recovered. Yet for a while, we feared he was sick to the point of death. That was a time of utter despair.

Jarius was facing the possibility of having to bury his little girl. Considering his options, Jarius, oblivious to the possible consequences from his synagogue associates, sought out Jesus having heard that he was in the region. Jesus had recently returned to Galilee from Gadara in the region of Decapolis (southeast of the Sea of Galilee). Having crossed the sea, a great multitude of people had gathered around Jesus at the shore. This is where Jarius found him too.

Jarius did not approach Jesus in the same manner as many of his “ruler” contemporaries. Often when the rulers approached Jesus, it was in an effort to catch him breaking the law so they could charge him with a crime. They were a proud and jealous bunch of folks. They certainly looked down their noses at Jesus. However, when Jarius approached Jesus, he fell to the ground at his feet. He was humble. He knew that without Jesus his daughter had little hope of survival. Jesus had become his “last resort.” On the ground, meek and lowly, Jarius began to speak.

“My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.”
Jesus went with him and a great multitude followed; in fact, they surrounded and pressed against him. Jarius and Jesus could not travel quickly encompassed by such a crowd, but they headed for the house where the sick little girl lies in bed.

Jarius had one mission and only one mission in mind for Jesus. Jarius was focused on his poor little girl. He wanted to get back to her before it was too late. They were making progress when Jesus stopped and said, “Who touched my clothes?” A woman with an “issue of blood,” had touched his garments, thinking within herself that in so doing she would be made well. She was desperate, too. She had been sick for 12 long years, had tried every treatment under the sun, all to no avail. But, Jarius had a daughter who was at the point of death. This delay must have been agonizing for him.

While Jesus was speaking with the woman, a message arrived from Jarius’ house. Listen to these chilling words; “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”

How many parents have been the recipients of similar news? There are perhaps no four words which are more painful to relate and receive than, “Your child is dead.” Poor Jarius. He was so close. His world must have turned upside down as those words pieced his eardrums and then ripped apart his heart.

Jesus did not delay. He quickly stated, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” All hope was not lost! Jesus simply told Jarius to trust him. What a difficult task that must have been; after all, she was already dead. But when you’re all out of options, you hold on to even the slightest glimmer of hope.

Now, moving with a greater sense of urgency, Jesus refused to permit anyone to follow except for Peter, James and John. The five men made their way toward the house. The scene at Jarius’ home was not one that we could describe as comforting. The flute players were already piping. The mourners were already lamenting. There was a great commotion.

Keep in mind that in our Lord’s day, when someone died the body was buried on the same day. At one’s death, it is said that even the poorest person had two flute players and one mourner. The purpose of the flute players and mourners was not to comfort those who had lost a cherished loved one. The purpose was to honor the dead by exciting the passions of those who continued to live. The sound of the flutes and mourners would overcome the family and friends and increase the emotional outpouring.

I remember sitting in the midst of a sea of emotionally traumatized people. The sound which this group emitted was gut wrenching. A young man had died in an auto accident. The family and friends were overcome with grief as his favorite songs were played during the funeral. People wailed. One person fainted. There was a great commotion as people saw to her needs. Some screamed in misery. I can only describe the scene as an “emotional uproar.”

Jarius had left his home with a smidgen of hope. Now he returned to this scene of despair. Jesus observed the tumult and those who were weeping and wailing loudly. There would be some who would be frantically making burial preparations. Others would perhaps be sitting in shock. The hired mourners would ensure that all were experiencing the agony of the moment to the hilt.

In the midst of all of this, a voice was heard. “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” Now, that’s the kind of statement that will make a crowded room grow silent immediately. For a moment all eyes must have fallen upon Jesus, as folks peered to see who would assert such a seemingly foolish proposition. After a pause, the predictable ridicule began. The force of the Greek language is such, that those who were laughing at Jesus “kept it up.” They were scorning him, over and over again, with their sarcastic laughter.

Some things don’t mix. Water and oil. Laughter and wailing. This must have been a terribly uncomfortable moment. Some were weeping bitterly. Others were laughing sarcastically. Jesus only wanted to comfort the family. He was intent on helping them. His focus and knowledge of death, transcending that of those around him, caused him to become a momentary “laughing stock.”

Poor Mr. and Mrs. Jarius. Their little girl was dead. Their home was in a chaotic state. Jesus had arrived too late, and he seemed to think everybody has misdiagnosed her, thinking instead that she is only sleeping. But, the bedlam was just the “storm before the calm.”

Jesus took the father and mother and the three men who accompanied him into the little girl’s room. She was still. There was no breath in her. Her complexion would have the chalky hue of the deceased. She wasn’t just sleeping. Her mother and her father knew that she was dead.

Jesus reached out and took the lifeless hand of the girl. He said, “Talitha cumi,” which is, being interpreted, “Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise.”

Without delay, the little girl sat up, got out of bed and walked! We can’t imagine the impact this had on all those gathered at the home of Jarius. Certainly, those scorning Jesus would be stifled. Those making funeral preparations would cease their plans. The mourners would sit stony faced. The flute players would now pipe a different tune.

Mr. and Mrs. Jarius, like everyone else, were amazed! The little girl was dead and came back to life. Jesus had made her whole again. Jesus was their daughter’s salvation. This news would have traveled far and wide.

Perhaps others would have sick children throughout the remainder of Jesus’ ministry. Who knows how often the scene replayed itself. John said that many of the things Jesus did simply could not be written in a book, because the multitude of the events, if written down, could not fit in the world. So, children would grow ill. Parents would be overcome with grief. Jesus would be sought, because Jesus was their only hope.

The same is true today, but in a more significant way. Jesus is our only hope. He is the only hope of our loved ones. There is a sickness that is unto death all around us. The diagnosis is sin. The prognosis is death. The cure is Christ. How so?

Remember what Jesus told Jarius when the message came that the child was dead? He said, “Don’t be afraid. Believe.” There is nothing more frightful than to be dead to God. That is to say, nothing is more grave than the wages of sin, to be apart from God. We, who have been redeemed, ought to be sensitive to the frantic state of those who have committed the capital crime of sin, but who are not in Christ.

When Jarius needed help for his daughter, he turned not to the sophistication of man. Nor, did he sit about hoping that someone would come along and help his daughter. With great zeal, fueled by a burning passion for his little girl, he was proactive in his efforts to bring Jesus into contact with his daughter. We should follow Jarius’ example.

Who do you know who is lying still in his bed, chalky white with the hue of death, resulting from transgression? How many of our friends, neighbors, children, parents and siblings are without spiritual life? Have we given up hope? Do we listen to the pipers and the wail of the mourners, as they convince us that there is nothing to be done for this person or that person? Do we join the scorners in laughter at the notion that “so and so” can live once again?

The Gospel is the power to save! Take the message of the Redeemer, Healer, Sacrifice and Propitiation to the dead. Give the lifeless the opportunity to have their icy hands held by the Master, as he pleads with them to, “Arise.” Much to our surprise, as was the case with the little girl, some will heed the Savior’s voice. They will taste of the remedy for sin; i.e., the blood poured out at Calvary. Some will go to the watery grave with Christ, die to their sin and arise having been made whole again. In each instance, the power of God at work will still leave those who witness the new life, amazed!

Pray for God’s help. As the song goes, “Lead me to some soul today. O teach me Lord, just what to say. Friends of mine are lost in sin and cannot find their way. Few there are who seem to care and few there are who pray. Melt my heart and fill my soul . . . Give me one soul today!”

Romans 10:17
Mark 16:16
Acts 2:38
Romans 10:9-10
Acts 22:16
Revelation 2:10

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