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Ben Courson

Peter-John Courson


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 9:23-24

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.

Then Jesus 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.

Scripture 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 canned.

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.’

Over 3,000 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.