They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead (Luke 8:53).
Many people find Jesus laughable. What he says seems ridiculous. What he claims about himself seems outlandish. Who can take him seriously?
His followers can. His disciples do. He makes no promise—and no threat—that he does not back up with action.
It was not a humorous situation. A 12-year-old girl was dying. Her father came to Jesus, begging for help.
Instead of making a bee-line to the girl, Jesus stopped to treat a woman who had been suffering from a disease for 12 years. The next thing we hear is, “While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”
What a shame! What a tragedy! Didn’t Jesus know this was an emergency? Could he not have told the woman to wait until he tended to the dying girl? If she had been dealing with her condition for 12 years, couldn’t she wait just a little while longer?
What was Jesus thinking?
Jesus was thinking that he was the Lord of life and death and that all power was in his hands. Jesus was thinking that he would answer both prayers for help in the way that he knew would be best. He would show forth his glory as the Son of God.
He went to the house that death had entered. It was filled with chaos and tears. With three of his disciples and the parents of the girl, he waded into the crowd of the grief-stricken. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
That’s when they laughed at him.
They thought they knew better. They were sure there was no hope for the girl. They knew that no one wakes up from death.
But they did not know Jesus. They did not know he was the Son of God. They may have heard that he was a prophet from Nazareth. Perhaps they had heard of some wondrous things he had done, and people that he had healed.
But this was different. This was death. To hear from Jesus that death is but a sleep was laughable.
But it was true. It is still true.
Laughter is part of the life of a follower of Jesus. That person can laugh at things others tremble at. It comes with the confidence of knowing that all things will work together for the good of those who love God. Jesus has said this, and it is as true as when he said of the girl, “She is not dead but asleep.” Because of Jesus, we will wake from our sleep of death.
Because of Jesus, our death is laughable.
Lord Jesus, you have conquered death by dying in our place. You are Lord over all. Blessed are they who take refuge in you. Send the Holy Spirit in greater measure into our hearts so that our trust in you may grow strong. Take us back to your Word so that we can see your love and power in action. Enable us to laugh in the face of death, knowing that life with you awaits us. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military