Blessed Are You Who Lie In Death

Text: Mark 5:21-43

To Him who loves us and has washed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

It should not surprise us that Jairus came to Jesus for help, for his daughter was gravely ill.  That’s what good and sane fathers do when their daughters are in trouble; they try to fix things or at least find someone who can.

It also should not alarm us the way in which Jairus came to Jesus; he came and fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him for a divine intervention, for his daughter was at the point of death.

This makes sense.  We can all relate to this, even agonize with the fear, worry, and desperation of this father. 

All this stated, imagine with me if Jairus did nothing, if he did not show concern about the illness of his daughter, and if he even denied the reality that she was sick in the first place. 

Can you imagine? 

“Jairus, your daughter is about to die, it is rather serious.  She needs a physician or something more!” 

“Nah, she is perfectly healthy.  She is normal, whole, and complete.  Stop judging her as ill and sick you ruthless hateful bigot.”

To this we would cry, “Outrage!  She is not normal, standard, and whole, but rather she is dying.  Do you not see, if you do not do something quickly, she will be a motionless and helpless corpse!  For goodness’ sake, your very own flesh and blood—your daughter—is dying!” 

And yet, we are all guilty of diminishing the seriousness of death—that is sin—while covering it with a fragrant perfume, saying all is well.  Otherwise stated, we are no better off than the Pharisees or the Tax Collectors, for we all—in our own ways—attempt to standardize and normalize our pet sins.  We take that which is contrary to God’s Law—sin—and attempt to write it off as o.k..  By doing this, we are actually attempting to take ourselves off of the death bed of sin and put ourselves in agreement with God’s Holy Word.  We take whatever iniquity we cherish and we attempt to remove it from the category of sin and place it into the category of normal, whole, and true. Furthermore, if we can get enough people around us to agree that we aren’t dead in sin, then we can at least feel a sense of vitality, even though we are really numb.  If we can get the national government to pass laws that tell us that we are not guilty but justified, well then, we must be o.k. 

Let’s face it, as humans we are all under the compulsion to justify ourselves.  “We are forced to justify ourselves, and as we do so, we usually want to be right.”[1] We don’t want to be a needy helpless corpse of sin sprawled out on a stretcher, but rather, we want to be independently alive and free from judgment.  “We want constant recognition of ourselves because it is vitally necessary. We need its confirmation and renewal. If it is lacking, we try to regain it or even to coerce it.”[2] That is to say, we attempt to justify our departures from the standard of God’s divine Law. We attempt to diminish our violation of what the Lord says is good, right, and true. 

And so it goes, we look at our surroundings, popular opinions, government laws, Supreme Court Justice Decisions, and so forth to paint the self-portrait that we are normal and that our sins are typical.  We will even accumulate pastors for ourselves that will tickle our ears and suit our own fancy. 

All along though, we have this heart of sin that is buried underneath all our attempts of self-justification, a heart that daily spews forth the sickness of evil thoughts, murder, adultery, lust, unnatural fornication, theft, lies, coveting, gluttony, and slander.  “Although [we] keep up a good appearance to people in church, [our] co-workers, [our] friends, and maybe even [our] family, inside there is jealously, greed, malice, and every form of evil.  And even if [we] are able to avoid gross, outward sins, even if [we] keep [our] darkest fantasies hidden away in [our] minds, they cannot be hidden from the eyes of the almighty judge.  [We] are not nearly as good as [we] think [we] are, or as [we would] like people to think.”[3]    

Repent dear friends.  Acknowledge this day that according to your sinful nature that you are dead in your sins.  Confess that you have tried to not only deny and diminish the stench of your sinful heart, but have actually tried to normalize it by sprinkling potpourri over it.  I say this with compassion to you and to me, quit lying to yourself; stretch out on that bed beside Jairus’ twelve year old daughter and die with her.[4]  Yes, die with her.

But what happens to us poor miserable sinners when we lie in death with Jairus’ daughter?  What happens when we are exposed and unmasked?  What will the Lord do with broken, destroyed, hurt, crippled, wrecked, collapsed, and torn down sinners on a stretcher?    Will Christ be troubled by this?  Will He be bothered?  Will He come to the rescue?  Will Christ even care? 

He did for Jairus’ daughter.  He worked His way through the crying and wailing and grieving crowd to the dead girl.  He then grabbed death by the hand and said, “little girl, get up!”

Dear friends, we need to keep in mind that the essence of the Gospel is neither a fluffy abstract love feeling, nor the spirit of tolerance. Rather, what makes the Gospel really good news is that the Gospel is for sinners only.  It is for the spiritually dead.  It is for you; it is for me.  Yes, the Gospel is about the forgiveness of sins.

The personal application of the Gospel presupposes that one knows their sin problem. Indeed, “one cannot know the magnitude of Christ’s grace unless we first recognize our malady.”[5] Thus, good news comes to the blessed dead. 

In light of this past week’s Supreme Court Decision, it is important to remember that homosexuals need not to be singled out in this vast sea of sinners. Rather, it is the other way around.  Homosexuals need to join, yes join: heterosexuals, males, females, children, elderly, rebels, self-righteous narcissists, Democrats, Republicans, greedy executives, church goers, thieves, teachers, plumbers, adulterers, IRS agents, white collar workers, blue collar workers, uncompassionate jerks, truth compromisers, North Americans, Africans, Europeans, Asians, and so forth, on the death bed of confession saying, “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; that we are by nature sinful and unclean and we are all in need of forgiveness and the sufficiency of Christ Jesus’ blood.”

Dear friends, contrary to popular opinion, there really is no such thing as different classifications of people; rather there are those who live in the lie that they are alive and those who “die with the truth—the truth that in of ourselves we are dead as dust.”[6] 

By normalizing, standardizing, diminishing, and denying sin, no matter what that sin may be, we are essentially denying our need of the Gospel and eroding the very fundamental core of Christianity.  As Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician.”[7]

Repent; do not deceive yourself.  When you and I say that we have no sin, the truth is not in us. 

You, who have ears, hear.  You are the blessed dead.  Indeed, “The living are dead and the dead are living. You [though] are dead.”[8]

You, who have ears, hear.  Blessed are you who die with Jairus’ daughter, for “as Jesus took the daughter of Jairus by the hand and said to her, ‘little girl, I say to you, arise,’ so also He takes you by the heart and says, ‘Oh my child, I forgive you.  I say to you arise.  I love you.  You are mine.  Come off the bed of death, the bed of sin, and live again.  The worst of your sins, your darkest of desires, your pettiness and self-love and greed and lust—they are no more.  They are gone.  They are destroyed.  I have taken them into my flesh.  They were crucified with me.  They have become nothing, that I might make you to be everything in me. [You are baptized into My death and My resurrection.  You were dead, but are alive in me, for I have claimed you and spoken life-giving faith into you.’]”[9] 

This, Baptized Saints, is the message that Zion Lutheran Church and the Christian Church lives by: the message of Christ crucified for sinners. 

Come hell or high water, this message is our constant.  Whether in season or out of season, Christ is for sinners like you and me and our neighbors; drawing towards death, forgiving sin, redeeming, and raising to life. 

Do not fear, our Savior is the one who makes His way through the crowds, the noises, and the wailings of life, to touch you with water, bread, and wine while saying, “Get up; your sins are forgiven, you are whole and alive in Me.” 

No voice of man, no gavel of the courts, and no laughter of popular cultural can go back into time and keep Christ from coming to mankind, coming to and for you. 

Do not fear: Jesus died; He is risen; He has reached out and taken you to Himself.   Do not fear, only believe.   

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] Oswald Bayer, Living By Faith: Justification and Sanctification (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003), 1.

[2] Ibid, 2.

[3] Chad L. Bird, Sermons and Meditations (Chad Bird Copyright 2014), 97.

[4] Ibid, 98.

[5] Apology of the Augsburg Confession, II:33.

[6] Chad L. Bird, Sermons and Meditations (Chad Bird Copyright 2014), 97.

[7] See Matthew 9:12.

[8] Steven D. Paulson, Lutheran Theology: Doing Theology (New York NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2012), 158.

[9] Chad L. Bird, Sermons and Meditations (Chad Bird Copyright 2014), 98.

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