I’ve just finished polishing up a sermon on Mark 5.21-43 for College Mission. And I’m really pumped. It’s such a glorious passage. It gives us front row seats as Jesus defeats death. Twice.
- In power, and seemingly without even realising it, he crashes through the living death of the woman with chronic bleeding.
- In compassion, he interrupts a Middle Eastern funeral in full swing, raising the twelve year-old daughter of a local synagogue leader.
But it’s much more exciting than just seeing death robbed (temporarily) of two of its victims. It’s one of the first fat drops of rain announcing the imminent storm of refreshment as one of the great yearnings of the Old Testament — the yearning for that day when God will tear away ‘the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations’ and will ‘swallow up death forever’ (Isaiah 25.7-8) — is finally satisfied.
It makes me think of John Donne’s sonnet:
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
That’s the full-blooded Christian hope. Not that death is somehow good or a doorway to what’s better (although God can sovereignly make good flow from it). But it doesn’t get the last word. It may well be the last enemy. But it’s been defeated. And will be destroyed.
Count on it.