He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.
We've all been laughed at. Getting a good laugh when you are going for one can lift your spirit and cause your confidence to soar. The same laughter - when directed at you as the butt of the joke - can crush your spirit and lay your confidence in the dust. Yet notice Jesus' response in this passage. He simply shuts their laughter out (v. 40).
By this time Jesus was a known miracle worker. So much so that the girl's father believed Jesus could save his daughter's life if he could only get Him there in time. Yet, even Jesus the great healer, when He suggests that death isn't the ultimate reality for this girl, is laughed to scorn. How much more will the world laugh at you and I if we dare to take seriously the Bible's teaching on the resurrection! In a culture dominated by scientific logic, what could be more final than death? There are no observable phenomena after death, therefore death is the end. Praise God that it isn't so!
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)
This is THE great hope of the Christian faith. Though this world is hopelessly marred by sin so that even young children get sick and die, it is not our final destination. No! Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. In the resurrection we will experience the world as God always meant it to be. As Paul says, "if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" (I Corinthians 15:19).
If you take Jesus' teaching on this subject seriously and order your life around it, then there is little doubt that you will be ridiculed. And yet, what difference does that make? Their laughter did not prevent the little girl from rising when Jesus said “Talitha koum” (v. 41). Neither will their laughter prevent you from rising on that day. On that day, dear believer, you will be vindicated for believing in the resurrection and you will enjoy the rewards you have laid up before yourself in the kingdom (Matthew 6:20). So, let them laugh, but continue to work all the more diligently knowing the time is short. Let them laugh, but proclaim the truth. Let them laugh, but serve God faithfully. Let them laugh, but pray for their souls. Let them laugh, but continue to believe in the great hope of the resurrection of all the saints in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let them laugh, but fix your eyes on the joy set before you and never, ever, ever change your course.
For further reading...
- I Corinthians 15- Where o death is your sting?
- I Thessalonians 4:13-18- When the trumpet sounds.
- Revelation 20:11-22:5- The New Heavens and the New Earth.