Funerals are normally very serious and very sobering. But I want us
to look at a funeral where there were no quiet organ chords, no hushed
whispers, no silent tears. This funeral is unique because it was
filled with laughter.
'And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels
and the people making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the
maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.' Matthew
Who were these minstrels? In Jesus’ day, when someone died, the
bereaved would hire professional mourners and wailers. Even the
poorest of families would hire two minstrels, two flute players, and
one screamer. But the wealthier you were, the more mourners you would
hire. Jairus being very wealthy, perhaps there were 20, 50, perhaps
100 people at his home, weeping and wailing and mourning.
arrived. ‘Give place,’ He said. ‘Make way. The maid is not dead. She
sleeps.’ Matthew writes, ‘And they laughed him to scorn.’ It wasn’t a
chuckle — it was a deep belly laugh. It wasn’t a giggle — it was a
guffaw. After all, they had been with her. They had checked her pulse.
They had watched her die. She was gone. No doubt about it.
The Bible speaks of death with different terminology than the world
does. John 11, Acts 7, 1 Corinthians 15, and 1 Thessalonians 4 all say
that for the believer, death is sleep. That is, our bodies go to sleep
to be resurrected later on, while our spirits go immediately to be
with the Lord. Sleep! Who of us doesn’t enjoy a nice nap now and then?
Or taking some time to lay in the sun? Jesus put death in an entirely
different context when He said, ‘Don’t worry,’ He said. ‘She’s not
dead in the way you think. She’s simply sleeping.’
Imagine a funeral
taking place with hundreds of caterpillars all dressed
in black. Mourning. Marching slowly, carrying the cocoon of their beloved, departed brother.
Meanwhile, a beautiful butterfly is fluttering above them, looking
down in utter disbelief. ‘What are you guys mourning for?’ he shouts.
‘I’ve been metamorphosed!’ In 1 Corinthians 15, when Paul says we
shall be changed, ‘metamorphosed; is the Greek word he uses. When we
die, we get rid of these caterpillar costumes and become the
butterflies we long to be.
‘Give place,’ Jesus said. ‘She’s not dead. She’s asleep.’ Then He
went in and took her by the hand. To a Jew, touching a dead body was
defiling. It was like touching a leper. But Jesus was not afraid to
touch defiled people. And He’s not afraid to touch you.
records three accounts of people who died and were raised by Jesus: Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and Lazarus. Following her
resurrection, Jairus’ daughter was hungry. Following his resurrection,
the widow’s son began to speak. Following his resurrection, Lazarus
came forth walking.
I suggest to you the same three characteristics
are found in those who have been spiritually resurrected and born
again. Like Jairus’ daughter, they hunger for the Word. Like the
widow’s son, they talk differently. The things they enjoy talking
about are no longer what they once were. Like Lazarus, they walk
differently — no longer bound by sin.
I want you to see something else
here, because I believe every one of us deals constantly with some
area in our lives that is dying. Perhaps it is in the area of
parenting. ‘My kids are rebelling against God. They’re not interested
in spiritual things. My daughter is at the point of death even now.’
Maybe it’s your wife or your husband. Your marriage is collapsing.
Maybe financially or occupationally things seem at the point of death.
It might be ministry. And we run to Jesus, crying, ‘Lord, this thing,
this person, this plan is at the point of death. Come. Please!’ And
Jesus hears your prayer. And you leave that place of prayer saying,
‘Far out! The Lord is with me. Great!’ But then the news comes the
next day . . .
She left you. He moves out. Your kids are in juvenile hall. You got
And you say, ‘What happened, Lord? I thought You were traveling
with me. Where did You go?’ He is still with you. And He whispers in
your heart. ‘Give place. It’s not dead. It’s just sleeping.’ ‘No way,’
you say. ‘It’s over. There’s no possibility it will ever work out.’
But when the people were put forth, he went in . . . Matthew 9:25
When did Jesus go in? When the mockers were put out. Turn to the
Book of 2 Kings . . .
And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by
the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked
him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
2 Kings 2:23
Interestingly the Hebrew word translated ‘mock’ used here is
essentially the same Greek word translated ‘mock’ in Matthew 9. The
word for ‘little children’ is the Hebrew word ‘nahar’. It is used to
describe Isaac when he was 28 years old, and Joseph when he was 39
years old. Thus, it doesn’t mean little children in the sense of
preschoolers or kindergartners. It means those who were younger than
the venerated elders in a community. So these guys could have easily
been in their 20’s, their 30’s, perhaps even 40 years old. They should
have known better than to mock a man of God.
Elisha said, ‘I will not
allow these mockers, these scoffers to make fun of the ministry which
God has entrusted to me.’ Suddenly, two female bears came out of the
woods, and began ripping on these scorners, devouring them. And we see
the situation become very ‘grizzly’. Don’t send your pit bulls after
those who make fun of you, gang, but realize this: We in New Testament
times wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities
and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. Our battle is with
those demonic forces and with our own sin natures which whisper within
us, ‘Go up. Go up. You think things are going to happen? No they’re
not, bald-head man.’
In the Name of Jesus, we need to come against
these scoffers, these laughers, these mockers and say, ‘I will not
give place to these voices of doubt and depression, I will not allow
them to whisper in my ear that this is doomed to fail. I refuse to
listen to the lies of the enemy or to the doubts of my sinful
humanity. I will claim the promise the Lord has given to me in the
Word, and I will cling to them and believe in Him.’
promises have been given to you in the Word, dealing with every single
need you might have today. Search the Scriptures. Find the promise.
And when circumstances say, ‘No way’ — call for the bears! When Jesus
went into His home town of Capernaum, does Scripture say He could do
no mighty miracle there because of their carnality? No. Was it because
of their sin? No. Was it because He was tired? No. He could do no
mighty work there because of their unbelief. Without faith, Hebrews 11
says, it is impossible to please Him. There are many ways to please
God, but without faith, none of them mean a thing.
Have faith. Give
place. Move out the mockers. Say, ‘Eat ‘em up, bears of belief. Go get
‘em in the Name of the Lord. I’m quoting, claiming, believing,
standing on this Book. Devour those doubts, O Lord.’ As the scorners
make their exit, the Lord then moves in and things begin to happen.
May you be one who puts out the scorners and stands on the Scriptures.
Move out the mockers. Make way for Jesus. And let Him bring
resurrection into your life.