A Top-Down Faith: The Living Lord Completely Changes Our View of Death

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Watch the livestream beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.

First Reading: Lamentations 3:22-33 (NIV)
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 (NIV)
Gospel: Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43 (NIV)


  • Hymn: CW 864 “I Know of a Sleep in Jesus’ Name”
  • Psalm 30B: “I Will Praise You, Lord”
  • Hymn: CW 831 “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me”
  • Hymn: CW 835 “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

“Laughable Faith”

Text: Mark 5:21-24a,35-43



When someone says or does something completely contradictory to the way people think, they get laughed at. There is a long list of people who were mocked and laughed at for what they did because they were ahead of their time. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting his entire lifetime and it was to a friend. Even though people laughed and scoffed at his painting, he kept at it creating over 800 pieces. Now every museum and private collector wants his work and his most expensive painting is valued at $142.7 million. Sometimes it’s worth being laughed at when you know what you’re doing is going to work.


Walt Disney’s first animation company went bankrupt. He was fired by a news editor because he “lacked imagination”! When Walt Disney wanted to build Disney World, he was turned down and laughed out of 302 banks before he got financing to create the hap-hap-happiest place on earth. Sometimes it’s worth being laughed at when you know what you’re doing is right. The Walt Disney Company is now worth, according to Forbes.com, 185 billion dollars!


Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, started his dream at 65 years old after getting his first social security check for $105. Knowing he couldn’t live off that little money, he drove from restaurant to restaurant trying to get them to use his recipe and give him a percentage of their sales. He traveled around the country wearing his conic white suit, knocking on doors and sleeping in his car. He got laughed out of 1,009 restaurants before getting his first “yes”. Sometimes it’s worth being laughed at when you know what you’re doing is right. There are over 25,000 KFC restaurants in 145 countries around the world!


In our sermon text today, several people in several ways were laughed at for what they said or did. But they were willing to be laughed at because they knew what they were doing was right. It all started with Jairus. His dear daughter was dying. We aren’t told what sickness or disease was attacking her but Jairus knew her worn out, weak and wearied body was about to have no fight left in it. He knew she was about to die. What did he do? He left! He left her side! What do you think the neighbors thought when they heard the news? “What?! [said with a laugh] He did what? He left his daughter’s bedside to run after that Jesus guy? What a laughable fool!”


It must have been unimaginable for those surrounding this sick girl that her own father would leave her to run after some supposed magic healing man. Again, sometimes it’s worth being laughed at when you know what you’re doing is right and is going to work! Jairus had laughable faith…people laughed at him…but he was going to have the last laugh.


“Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at His feet.” (Mark 5:22) Jairus was a synagogue leader, which was a highly prominent position in the Jewish culture. Synagogue rulers were men of faith who served to maintain the day-to-day operations of the synagogue similar to our church council today. Even though Jairus was this prominent, well-known man, as soon as he saw Jesus, he fell in humility and emotional exhaustion before Jesus’ feet.


That just isn’t done! Could you imagine seeing the president of a bank falling on his knees before Joe the carpenter who came in for a small business loan? Could you imagine ever seeing Donald Trump or Joe Biden falling to their knees in humility before anyone? It just doesn’t happen. Men in positions of power do not do this. But Jairus did. He couldn’t help himself; he knew Jesus could help and he didn’t care what others thought or if they laughed.


But how did he even know who Jesus was? Since Jairus was a synagogue ruler, he undoubtedly heard of or even witnessed Jesus healing a man with leprosy (Mark 1), a paralyzed man (Mark 2), or the man with the shriveled hand (Mark 3). Because of these or other miracles Jesus had already completed, Jairus risked his job at the synagogue and his reputation as he fell on his knees pleading for Jesus’ help.


“So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around Him.” (Mark 5:24) Jairus must have been so relieved Jesus agreed to go with him to heal his daughter! But that relief quickly went away. You know that feeling when you just turned onto the interstate for a multiple hour trip; you’re gaining speed and round a corner and then…OOOOHHH NOOO! All you see is a sea of red taillights! The interstate is a parking lot. Frustration! So much for getting where you were going any time soon. That was Jairus. As soon as he convinced Jesus to go with him to heal his daughter, a sea of people appeared.


The disciples had become accustomed to this. Like modern day bodyguards for celebrities, they worked to push a path through the crowd as all the people pressed around Jesus. Just as Jesus started to pick up some speed creating a fast lane to Jairus’ daughter, He slammed the brakes. “Who touched My clothes?” (Mark 5:30) Jesus wasn’t upset that someone dare touch Him nor was He upset at the disciples for not doing a better job of shielding Him. Jesus knew when He was touched His healing power went out from Him into someone. A woman who had a bleeding condition for twelve years thought as long as she could simply touch the outer clothes of Jesus, she would be healed. (Mark 5:25-29)


You may think our healthcare system is in shambles. Imagine having hers! Imagine your revised Health Insurance only paid for you to hide in the bushes outside your doctor’s office so you could jump out and touch his white doctor coat as he walked out to his Mercedes. Or what do you think your family would do if you told them you have stage four cancer but then said, “But don’t worry! I secretly touched the bottom of my doctor’s jacket when he walked away, so I’m going to be just fine!” They’d laugh at you!


This woman’s plan to get healed was laughable to the world! But sometimes it’s worth being laughed at when you know what you’re doing is going to work. And it did! What doctors couldn’t heal, Jesus did! What advances in medicine couldn’t cure, Jesus did! What old-wives-tales for home remedies couldn’t remedy, Jesus did! When the healing power of Jesus left Him, Christ stopped to encourage this woman further in her faith. “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34) Jesus revealed her healing wasn’t temporary, it was permanent. That’s how Jesus’ blessings and mercy works…it’s permanent!


While this woman was filled with peace being released from her suffering, Jairus’ suffering became unimaginably worse. “While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, ‘Your daughter is dead’ they said. ‘Why bother the Teacher anymore?’” (Mark 5:35) I doubt Jairus heard anything they said after “Your daughter is dead.” After giving him the dreadful news of his daughter’s death, they told Jairus to not bother with Jesus anymore. She was dead. What could Jesus do?


Jesus must have laughed at their lack of faith in Him and His abilities! After they spoke, the gospel writer Mark recorded this, “Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe.’” (Mark 5:36) The Greek word, parakouo, which is translated here as “overhearing” could also be translated as “ignoring”. That other translation fits better with what Jesus encouraged Jairus to do. “Jairus, ignore what they just told you. Laugh at what they just told you. Don’t be afraid, just believe.”


That’s what Jesus encourages each and every one of us to do. Ignore what the world says. Ignore when the world laughs at you; ignore when your faith values and morals are mocked. “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”


Jesus tells us to ignore that the world laughs at our belief in creation. Scientists scoff at our belief that God created the world in six—24 hour—days. They laugh at us. They say it’s not possible. Jesus tells us to ignore them (just like how they ignore they’ve never very proven the THEORY of evolution, just like how they ignore there are MISSING LINKS to the evolutionary chain making it NOT WORK). When you are laughed at or discounted for believing that the Creator Triune God masterfully made the earth and all creation, Jesus tells you, “Don’t be afraid of their laughter or ridicule, just believe.”


Jesus tells us to ignore that the world laughs at our adherence to the Biblical definition of marriage. That we believe the divine design for marriage is One Man and One Woman united for life. Marriage was not created by God to be any other combination besides male and female. It doesn’t matter if our broken morals society says something different. God designed marriage and He defined it. And He intended it to last—to last until death does them part. The vows made before God in marriage are not a cell phone contract. You don’t just drop your spouse for another when you lose connection or a better deal comes along. But that’s how our society treats marriage. It’s a contract waiting to be broken. God says otherwise. Your faith says otherwise. Marriage is one man and one woman united for life. The world laughs at this and even gets angry that we would believe something so “hateful”. Who said anything about hate? We sure didn’t. The world did. The world hates God and God’s loving design of marriage. Get ready. This topic is going to get burning-heated-hot in our society in the upcoming election. Jesus tells you, “Don’t be afraid of their laughter or their hatred of My design and definition of marriage, just believe.”


Jesus tells us to ignore that the world laughs at our trust and peaceful joy in the Easter resurrection of Jesus. They can’t wrap their brains around it and think it’s laughable. “You honestly believe a dead man brought Himself to life and so now you’ll escape the eternity of death and be in heaven? That’s absurd!” And we respond, “What you call absurd, we know to be true.” You know what, one of us is right and one is wrong. [By the way, we’re right!] If we’re wrong, [which we aren’t], we all die and that the end. But if we’re right, [which we are] then we who believe and trust and are willing to be laughed at for our faith in Jesus’ power over death will be given eternal joy in heaven where we’ll laugh in amazement at the grace and glory of heaven! Those who don’t believe, won’t. They’ll receive punishment in hell where is no laughter, ever. The Resurrected and Ascended Jesus speaks to you from heaven through your heart, “Don’t be afraid, just believe in My power over death and you will have life!”


Jesus showed Jairus His true power over death after He told Jairus to ignore their message that his daughter was dead and to, instead, “just believe.” When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ home, there was a large crowd outside wailing and scream-crying over the girls’ death. Jesus looked at them and said plainly, “Why all this commotion and wailing, the child is not dead but asleep. But they laughed at Him.(Mark 5:39) It’s okay to be laughed at when you’re right. And Jesus was about to show just how right, just how powerful He was. Jesus was about to show Jairus why he should not be afraid and just believe. Jesus put out all the people who didn’t believe in Him—which is exactly what it will be like for those who reject Jesus—they will be put out from His eternal presence in heaven. Jesus lovingly and powerfully the dead girl, “Little girl, I say to you, Get up!” (Mark 5:41) Instantly! Immediately! She sat up, alive!


That’s what Jesus does! His power over death cannot be stopped…ever! His power over sin’s consequences cannot be stopped…ever! His power over the forces of this world cannot be stopped…ever! Jesus has full, forever power over your sins, over your sufferings and gives that grace to you. You’re loved and forever forgiven! You’re loved by the Almighty! So let the world laugh. Let them laugh! Let them laugh at us and our trust in Him who is almighty and all-powerful who cannot even be contained by death. It’s okay to be laughed at when you know the One you trust in is Right and Righteous and Ready to deliver you from anything or anyone who would assail you.


Let them laugh. For their laughing will quickly go away when they see the power of your Lord’s might and mercy for you. And that’s when your eternal laughing we will begin. Not laughing at their defeat but laughing in amazed joy at the Victory won by Christ and given to us who believe. It’s okay. It’s worth being laughed at when you trust in Jesus. So do not doubt, just believe! Amen.


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