Little Girl, I Say To You, 'Arise'

Text: Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

"How strange it is to know that she is at peace and all is well, and yet to be so sorrowful."  

Dr. Martin Luther spoke those words more than 450 years ago when his little daughter died after suffering a prolonged illness.

Just as it was for Martin Luther, the same is true for us today - there is always something bittersweet about the death of a loved one, no matter how long or short their life has been or how much time you had to prepare yourself for their death.

Now, some well-meaning people may try to tell you that in time you will come to accept Becky’s death.  Or, you may even think that yourself, 

“Gosh, it hurts right now, but time will make everything better.”  

But dear friends, ask anyone who has lost a wife, daughter, sister, or mother, and they will tell you that you never get used to the sight of a loved one lying peacefully in a casket, even though death has stopped their suffering.  

Today, we know Becky’s suffering is over – her soul is in heaven with her Lord Jesus, because she is baptized into Jesus’ own death and resurrection. She died last week, trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of all her sins and the gift of eternal life.

But there is still sorrow here today.  There is a bitter sorrow of parting with her.  Never again in this world will you look into her eyes, hear her voice, or sit and talk with her.  And how could you, her family, not mourn over that?  And so, again, it is extremely difficult to accept the loss of a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.  

But you know what…you don’t have to accept her death.  In fact, let me be so bold to announce to you today that you should never accept Becky’s death.  Indeed, you do not have to. And the reason why; your Lord Jesus Christ will never let Becky’s death have the last word.  This is what Jesus promises you in His Holy Word right here and right now.

It was in St. Mark’s gospel where you heard the story.  By the time a desperate father could beg Jesus to heal his little girl, it was already too late, or at least that’s what people thought.    

If you can recall from our Gospel reading the people said, 

“She is dead!” 

But the Lord of Life did not accept their word as the last word.  He responded to them, saying, 

“She is not dead but sleeping.” 

And at that word, Jesus, Himself, reached out, took her by the hand, and spoke His words of life:  

“Talitha Cumi!  Little girl, I say to you, get up.”  

And just like that - her spirit returned, and she got up at once.  Jesus Christ conquered death at that very moment!

Now, listen very carefully.  Our Lord Jesus loves each one of us the same as that little girl in the Gospel reading from Mark.  It was for that daughter, for us, and for your dear Becky that He went to the cross.  It was at that cross that He gave His life into death so that we might have His eternal life and have it to the fullest.  By receiving faith in our Risen Lord, Becky has this gift of eternal life that will never fade away.  

Even though we might want to believe that death is some gigantic monster that is too big to overcome, for Becky, death is nothing more than a small hiccup or a tiny annoyance.  That is to say, within the Christian faith, death is not the monster that some see.  For Becky, her soul abides with Christ right now, who is the light and life of the world.  And so, there is nothing in this world that can ever take that from Becky right now, not even death.  

You see, Becky has already gone through death once before, years ago in the waters of Holy Baptism.  And from the waters of that Holy grave, God raised her again to new and eternal life by the power of His Holy Spirit.

In that saving flood of baptismal water, all the sin that had been born in her from Adam and Eve, and all that she had added, was drowned and engulfed.  In Baptism, she was separated from the unbelieving and perverted world – given the gift of the Holy Spirit and faith.

Right here at the font is the blessed waters of the church, where God Himself reaches down and holds His children in His arms – children like Becky – and says, 

“Little girl, I say to you, get up.”  

And so, mark this; life reigns for Becky, not death.  That gift of faith which the Holy Spirit began in Becky so many years ago in the baptismal waters continued to bless her through all the joys and tears of her life.   And then the final promise of that baptism was fulfilled last Monday afternoon when she was called home.

Her hope is granted, her faith is fulfilled, and now she sees her Jesus face to face, forevermore to be with her Lord.  We know this to be true this day.  

And yet, we still mourn.  However, we mourn for our loss and loneliness, not for her.  Again, you may never get used to being without your dear Becky or accept that she’s gone but there’s no reason that you have to.  Because in the same way that Jesus spoke to the little girl who had died, He will speak again to your dear Becky 

“Little girl, I say to you, get up!”  

And she will!  She will hear and obey.  She will rise at the resurrection to the fullness of life.  

You see, our Lord Jesus Christ loves this body of Becky so much that He will never abandon this body to the grave.  He will never let Becky’s death have the last word.  

And so, on that glorious day of resurrection to come, all who believe in Him for forgiveness and eternal life will be reunited in Jesus Christ.  Because of Jesus, we can say Becky is not dead but is merely sleeping, for she will awake to life very soon because of Jesus. 

Baptized Saints, Christ is risen, and your sins have been forgiven. Heaven is open to you, and you have a Father waiting for you. Christ is risen for me, you, and Becky – so that you can have joy in the midst of your tears. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.  

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