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|“Little girl, I say to you, arise!”|
“Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
A little girl once died, and Jesus said of her that she was only sleeping. The people laughed at Him because they knew she
was dead. But a few moments later, no one was laughing. Jesus had taken her by the hand and said, “Little girl, I say to
you, arise!” And before their very eyes, she rose from the dead.
Death is such a horrible thing and it causes so much pain. It does us no good to pretend that death is anything less than
terrible. It does us no good to pretend that death isn’t a reality. It does us no good pretend that death isn’t coming for each
one of us. If anything is permanent, surely death is permanent.
But consider this: Jesus has power over death. Of that little girl who died, He said, “she is only sleeping.” Then our Lord
“woke” her from the dead. And if our Lord can wake us from death, as if from sleep, perhaps death is not so permanent as
So confident was St. Paul in our Lord, and in our Lord’s power over death, that he too called those who have died, “those
who are asleep.” If St. Paul also calls those who have died, “those who are asleep,” then we should indeed confess with
him today that our loved ones who have died in Christ are only sleeping.
Only in faith can we say such an audacious thing. Only in faith can we say that the dead are only sleeping. Only faith can
say such a thing because faith holds Jesus to His word.
Indeed, Jesus Himself is no stranger to death. He is man acquainted with sorrows, acquainted with grief. And He is no
stranger to the real cause of death. The One who made this world, the One who made you and all things, has spoken very
clearly: there is nothing natural about death, nothing comforting or poetic about it. Death comes because of human sin.
Because we sin and violate God’s holy will, each one of us will die.
But when God’s says that, “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin,” God means “all sin.” The Lord Jesus has taken
our sins, all of them, upon Himself and He has carried them to the cross. On the cross, the sinless Son of God bears our
sins and dies our death. Why does He do this? So that the death we now die might be called “sleep”.
Because of His work on the cross, death is a sleep from which we may be woken, a sleep from which Jesus Himself will
wake us. “Whoever believes in Me,” Jesus says, “though he die, yet shall he live.”
Faith holds Jesus to His word. To reject His word is to reject Him. To reject Jesus is to reject all hope. If you were to
reject Jesus, you would be cutting yourself off from the only One who has the power over death.
Not only did Jesus once raise a little girl from the dead, Jesus Himself has risen from the dead. He is the only One to rise
from the dead and never die again. “I have the power to lay down My life,” He says, “and I have the power to take it back
On that first Good Friday, Jesus laid down His life for us. He gave Himself over to death. And it looked like death had
won. But three days later – that first Easter morning – something strange, something unspeakable had happened. Death
had lost its grip. But no man has ever risen from the dead, never to die again! One man has. If anything is permanent,
surely death is permanent! But Jesus has risen. Death has lost its grip. One has slipped through Death’s fingers.
Rumors rock the world to its foundations. The word is whispered and spread. It comes to our ears this day: Death could
not hold Jesus. Death cannot hold those whom He calls forth. He has power over death, power to raise Himself, power to
awaken those die. And when He awakens us on the Last Day, we will never die again.
If He can awaken us from death, then death is but a sleep. If death is but a sleep, then every night when we lay down in
our beds to sleep, we practice death. And every morning when we rise out of bed we practice the resurrection. Just as God
wakes us in the morning and we rise, so God will awaken our bodies from death and we will rise forever.
Dear Christians, because of Christ, we should fear the grave as little as we fear our beds. Because of Christ, death is but a
sleep. So take heart, for those who die in Christ are only sleeping.
In Christ, Pastor Rhode