I love that the scriptures, with so many of its stories, is hinting at Resurrection…or at least what is implied with the Resurrection. The Bible is always slowly, but surely, leading us to Jesus, his death for the world, his resurrection…and our identity in those two things.
If there is no Resurrection, there is no church. Sure, Jesus died for our sins, but if he stayed dead, we’re not hanging out today as a church community.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17,
“…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (NIV)
“And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever.” (MSG)
If there’s one thing you take home with you today it’s this, “The difficult story you may find yourself in, the wall you may have hit, the dark cloud over your head, is not the end. Your story is not over.”
If it means anything, resurrection means that the worst thing is not the last thing. (F. Buechner) And that wherever the cross is, the resurrection is near. (D. Bonhoeffer)
The Pope asked this question on twitter recently, “What would happen to us if God did not always give us a chance to start over?” Well, we don’t have to worry about that. He does. The Resurrection assures that.
Mark 5 has three stories that all hint at and point to the resurrection.
The first is about a man who is being tormented in his ‘inner spirit’. Some might call him possessed, others oppressed, but one thing for sure, he is in a prison and cannot get out of it. He see’s Jesus coming from a distance and yells out, “What do you want from me”. Jesus says, and I paraphrase, “I want to make you well, I want to set you free.” The story gets kind of wild, with Jesus exorcizing a legion (lots) of demons from this man, sending them into a herd of pigs and the pigs eventually running into the lake. Is there a mystery to it? Sure. Do I get it fully? No. But Mark has a purpose with this story: Jesus helps people in need, in pain, in some kind of prison. He delivers them and us. We know one thing for sure, this man was in a dark place, a lonely place, a prison, and by the end of the story, he’s dressed and in his right mind. He’s well.
The next two stories are weaved together. Mark starts us off talking about a 12 year old girl who has become deathly ill. So much so that they’ve already pronounced her dead. Her father, Jarius, comes to beg Jesus to heal her. Seems like Mark emphasizes this as to say that Jarius was a bit skeptical of it all, but pockets his pride and asks Jesus anyways. Wouldn’t you do the same if your daughter or son were sick and you thought that maybe someone could heal them?
This story is hijacked by another story. This one about an older woman who has been sick for 12 years. Twelve years of dealing with the same (serious) ailment. This woman figures that if she could just touch a piece of Jesus’ clothing, this would make her well. That’s a wild experiment if you ask me? But…she gets through the crowd, touches Jesus robe, and she’s well, healed, all better. If that’s not wild enough, Jesus actually knew that ‘power’ had left him. Another bit of mystery for us to ponder.
Mark quickly takes us back to the other story, about the 12 year old girl. Jesus follows Jarius to his home. He walks in, tells them that this girl is only sleeping, not dead, and then calls her to get up and start walking. Jesus calls to her saying ‘Talita Koum’. Meaning ‘Little Girl’ it’s time to get up.’ They are ordinary words you’d use with a little girl who’s sleeping (I’ve said them many times to my own daughter), but they bring this girl back to life. It’s as if Mark wants us to take note of the life giving power of God breaking into, and walking through, the ordinary details of life.
Three Stories – One take away
Every story is different.
– an oppressed man
– an older woman
– a little girl
– all dealing with different troubles
Every story is the same.
– all facing what they would see as the end or living with something they wish would end
– all encountering Jesus (in a different manner)
– all walking away with more life to live, with a new chapter to write, with a new life explore
Who are we in these stories?
- Sometimes we feel like the walking dead…no feeling, no purpose, oppressed, depressed, in some kind of prison…just like the first man in the first story.
- Some of us can identify with the older woman… dealing with the same issue, year after year after year, with no end in sight.
- Some of us, like the little girl, hit a wall of sickness, or bullying, or fear, or hurt. We didn’t see it coming. Every thing was great and easy for so long, and out of no where, we’re faced with something that feels like we’re dying inside.
These stories all point to one thing: Resurrection!
Everything Jesus did was a glimpse of what was to come. Every time Jesus healed someone it pointed to Easter. And Easter tells us this very important truth. Your story is not over. The worst thing doesn’t have to be the last thing. The darkness doesn’t need to be the ending of your story. Easter changes all that. There is more to come when you trust Jesus.
Don’t let your dark days rule you or your obstacles stop you. Jesus’ story wasn’t over with death, your story is not over with your struggle. That same resurrection power is there for us. New breath to breathe, new life to live.
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I believe in the resurrection…that God wrangles victory out of actual, physical death. The cross taught us that. You can’t have anything more dead than a three-day old dead body, and yet we serve a risen Saviour. New life is always possible…well past the moment it makes sense to still hope for it. The empty tomb taught us that. I have enough faith to live a Friday and Saturday existence right now without fear that Sunday won’t come. It will come. And I am nearly certain it will surprise me, like the sun coming up in the morning. (Jen Hatmaker)