Talitha Cumi

November 9, 2008 / No. 3436

Dear radio friends,

Perhaps today your heart is filled with grief, grief over death—the death of a child, the death of a husband or wife; sudden, tragic. And where shall you go, but to the Lord. For the Lord Jesus Christ has the Word of life eternal. And His gospel is the only balm, the only comfort in the midst of this world in the face of death.

That is the title for the series of messages that we began last week, three messages on “Facing Death.” We saw last week that we face death in the confidence that Jesus Christ is surpassingly excellent and that belonging to Him is greater than all else.

Today, I would like to turn your attention to a very beautiful passage—a story in the life of Jesus in Mark 5:21-43. The passage is too long to quote here. The passage deals with the raising from the dead of the daughter of Jairus, when Jesus spoke the words, “Talitha cumi, Damsel, arise.”

But perhaps it is not only that you have a sorrow over death. Perhaps your sorrow today is that you come before God with a great grief, a grief that you would say is more bitter than death. Perhaps you believe that your way is hid from the Lord, that your way is impossible, that your burden is too great. We read in II Corinthians 1:8 that the apostle experienced at one time the following: “We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” We found, said the apostle, no human way out. It seemed impossible. It seemed that there was no way to measure it. It seemed more than I could possibly bear. It seemed that under the weight of my trials and burdens, under the weight of my grief, all hope was crushed out of my soul. What then shall we do? We must bring it to the Lord. We must come to the Lord. We must stand before the Lord and before the Christ of Calvary. We must there see the wonder of the forgiveness of sins. We must hear the ever blessed gospel: Your sins are forgiven you entirely by grace. And if that is true, then we know that, no matter our feeling, no matter the weight of the grief, no matter how we view the impossibility of it, God says: “That he that spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with Christ also freely give us all things?” God promises a grace sufficient for all things. God calls us to place our trust in Him alone. And we shall never be desolate. We shall never be abandoned. God calls us no matter our way, no matter our grief, no matter our burden today, to live by faith, moment by moment, serving God, trusting in Him, and believing in Him.

God calls us to hear the word that Jesus once spoke to Jairus and his wife in the midst of their great grief and sorrow, “Be not afraid, only believe.” Believe and know and be sure in your heart that you belong to the living Savior.

The passage we are using for our text is Mark 5:21ff. There we are introduced to a man called Jairus, who had a very deep need. He came to Jesus with a deep and desperate need. He was a ruler of the synagogue, but he was a man of faith in Christ. He was also an able man. He was influential, a man of some standing and authority in the community. But all of that could do absolutely nothing for him now. He had a need that only Jesus could supply. He was brought to the point to see that only Jesus could help him.

His 12-year-old daughter was sick, very sick—at the point of death, we read in verse 23. The last time that he saw his daughter, her life was slowly ebbing away. And he had absolutely no power to keep that life in her—no matter how much he willed, he could not keep her alive. The pain and the fear of losing her, a little 12-year-old daughter, death taking her away from him for ever—he was faced with that. And he was faced with the fact that he could not protect her.

Deep and tender is the love that God gives to believing fathers and mothers for their sons and daughters. All the more so because this young girl was Jairus’ only daughter. In verse 23 he says to Jesus: “My little daughter,” literally, “My only one daughter.”

He came and he fell at Jesus’ feet and he besought Him. He prayed and said, “Come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed, come before it’s too late. Come quickly!”

What intensified his desperation and his need was that it seemed that Jesus did not help soon enough, that Jesus was delayed in His coming, that apparently Jesus was prevented from coming on time. For on the way, Mark tells us, much people thronged Jesus. As Jesus turned to go with Jairus, we see Jairus out in front trying to cut a path through the crowd, urging Jesus on to follow him quickly. Yet the crowd is very thick.

And then we read of a woman, a woman who had hemorrhaged for years and ran the gambit of doctors and no doctor could ever help her. That woman was at that moment drawn, by the grace of God, to come to Jesus. God chose that moment—the moment of Jairus’ desperate need—that Jesus Christ would now address the need of another child of God. And as our Lord pauses and listens to her and heals her and speaks to her and powerfully speaks the Word of God, Jairus stands by desperate over any delay. “My daughter, my daughter,” he thinks.

And then the message comes to him as Jesus is speaking to this woman. Word comes to him, words for which the world has no relief: “Thy daughter is dead.” How can we express what grief that is.

And yet, all of this was absolutely intentional. It was all under the power and control of the Lord—every bit of it. Jesus could have healed her from a distance. He had done that before. He could have said toJairus: “Jairus, go home. Your daughter liveth.” No, He did not do that. He did not say, “Jairus, I don’t even need to be told your address. I know where she is. She is one of mine. I see her. I heal her.” Jesus says, “Jairus, you bear her on your heart as her father, as her parent? Jairus, I bear her on My heart as one given to Me of the Father, entrusted to Me. I never take My eye from any one of My own.”

That Lord waited also for Lazarus to die and to be buried. Why? Well, He had waited at that time, He said, that His glory might be seen. For He is sovereign. And, beloved parents, let us hear in our hearts those words today. He loves His covenant children. He holds them. He guides them. He regulates everything that happens to them. He is the Good Shepherd and He loves His sheep. His sovereignty and His ways often appear to us as if He delays, as if evil prevents Him.

“Oh,” we say, “If only, if only I had taken a different route, if only we had left a little sooner or a little later. If only we had seen a specialist. If only we knew….” He delays, and we think He delays because He does not have time for us. He has other sheep. He cannot do everything all at once.

But this is not so. Jesus Christ orders our way perfectly, moment by moment. Nothing comes by chance. And He calls us to trust. When we think that He is doing nothing, when we believe that He delays, when He apparently does not prevent things that bring agony to our hearts, He says that He is at work. And He is at work in a perfect way.

In his deep need, Jairus received the tender care of Jesus Christ. First of all, he received the tender care and protection of Jesus from the rough, brutal, and hurtful words of unbelief. Job said of his three friends who had come to comfort him in his sorrow: “Miserable comforters have ye been to me.” Well, Jairus could have said something of the same. For in the moment of his desperate need, which has now turned into his worst fear—his daughter has died—Jairus was attacked by the voice of unbelief. Do not let that surprise you. In your greatest sorrows, in your greatest grief, in your greatest troubles, when you are down low, do not be surprised that the voice of unbelief chooses that moment to come to attack you.

He was attacked in two ways. First of all, they said to him: “Thy daughter is dead. Why troublest thou the Master any further?” That was the voice saying to him that there was a limit to the comfort of Jesus Christ. He cannot help you with this. Oh, yes, while there was life there was hope. But now all of your trouble is beyond the Lord. Your trouble is too much for Him. He cannot help you with that trouble—it is too great for Him. Why should you trouble Him with this?

And, perhaps, there is also the insinuation there that He is not so interested in you that He would bear this with you. Have you ever heard the snake, the devil, say that to you? “God cannot be of any help to you right now. And maybe He’s not really even interested in helping you.”

They said that right in front of Jesus. Imagine that! That is how bold it was—right in front of Jesus. For Jairus is with Jesus. And Jesus shields him, for Scripture says, “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith…Be not afraid, only believe.” Jairus, there is no situation in which belonging to Me will not help you.

Then the second attack was in verse 40. When Jesus came into the house and said that the daughter sleeps, “They laughed him to scorn.” They ridiculed the words of Jesus. They became cynical. Heaven?Souls in glory? The blood of forgiveness? Do you really believe all that stuff? Unbelief is cynical. Standing before the promises that to the human mind appear impossible, unbelief comes with the laugh of ridicule—God cannot help you. That is just “pie-in-the-sky.” You cannot possibly believe that.

And again, we read that Jesus shielded Jairus and his wife, for in verse 40 we read that He put them all out. All the voice of unbelief, all the cynical words, when they would laugh the words of Jesus to scorn—He put them all out. That is where cynical faith must go, and that is where unbelief must go. Out! Out! You shall not see them. If that is the way you come before the Lord, cynical, filled with unbelief, trying to put a limit to His power, you will not see. God said, “Believe!”

The tender care of Jesus was with Jairus all the way. He never left his side. His patience sustained him. His presence was his strength. He walked with him all the way when Jairus was in a daze. How tender. How private. How loving.

And He leads Jairus into the chambers of death. We read that He took the father and the mother and His three closest disciples and entered into her room and closed the door. Jesus has not entered the chambers of death. It was Jesus, Dad and Mom, and the body of that little daughter all alone. And that is His promise, you see? Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. This is His promise: Who shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? No terror that flieth by night, no arrow that flieth at noonday. In a sense, there is no doctrine so vital as this one. How tender, how perfect, the care of Jesus. All who belong to Him: you are never alone. He is at my right hand, says the psalmist, I shall not be moved. The promise of the Lord to the psalmist is, “I will guide thee with my own eye.” The promise of God is that He will place you under the shadow of His wings. His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

It is not a hopeless struggle against all odds. It is not a dark and lonely valley without hope. It is not just an impenetrable, overwhelming grief. It is not just a burden too great. Always, always, always there is the presence of Him who is at your side, who is in you with His tender love and almighty power. Listen to Him. This is not my word. Listen to Him: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

The wonderful power of Jesus was displayed. We read in verses 41 and 42, “And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.”

Talitha cumi; Damsel, arise. Words bursting with power, bursting with tenderness, bursting with love. How will we express the love of Jesus Christ for His little children, for His little girls, for His covenant children? If nothing else, the passage teaches us the sweet comfort of the covenant of grace. The children of believers in whom dwells the Holy Spirit, are precious, exceedingly precious, to Him.

They are words of tenderness, comfort. But they are words of calm and assertive power. Damsel, arise. No incantation. No frenzy. No leaping about. You remember Elisha and Elijah? Each of them also raised a little boy from the dead. But you remember that both of them had to bow seven times over a lifeless body and pray intensely. But now the King, the Lord Jesus, has entered into the chamber of death. There is no frenzy. He simply takes her by the hand and says, “Little girl, arise.” And the chains of darkness and of death give way to His word.

Talitha cumi is the word that He speaks to you today. That is a word, first of all, in which He speaks to us, to you children, and to every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ—to parents, to aged, and to young. It is a word, first of all, that He speaks deep down in your heart. He says, “Arise. You who were dead and lost in sin and trespasses. You who had no love of God. You who were stillborn, spiritually—dead. You who could not and did not know Him. By His powerful voice, because He knows and because He has chosen us, He comes and He speaks and He says, “Arise.” And we enter into life.

Then He speaks in death. Perhaps that death comes in a frightening clash of metal, perhaps with sirens, or perhaps, in the middle of the night in bed when we are 85 years old. Nevertheless, it is He who speaks: “Arise.” In death, Jesus speaks. No matter how that happens. He says, “Arise, and come to Me, to My Father’s house of many mansions.” And then, one more time, He will say it on the earth in a great and glorious moment when He stands before the gravestones of those whose bodies have long been decayed and turned into dust. He will come again into this world and He will say, “Talitha cumi; Damsel, arise.” And you will arise, body and soul, to life eternal.

Do you doubt that? Do you say, “I don’t know”? No. Do not stand in unbelief. Perhaps we say with the father of the demoniac: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” But if we doubt that, then look away. Look away to a cross where Jesus Christ laid down His life. Look to the cross where God gave His own Son over to our death, that we would have it no more but rather have life eternal in Him. Hear God’s Word: “He that spared not his own Son, shall he not also give us all things in him? Who shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?” Then let us pause in great amazement. And let us rejoice. Even death, the death of a child, the death of our loved one—they are now with Jesus in heaven. And we will be there too. We will be there soon. And we shall rejoice. Children, be not afraid. Only believe.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. Bless it now to our hearts, that we may hold fast this Word of comfort in our Savior. In His name we pray, Amen.