Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 7 Study # 7
August 9, 2009
52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.
1901 ASV Translation:
52 And all were weeping, and bewailing her: but he said, Weep not; for she is not dead, but sleepeth.
53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
54 But he, taking her by the hand, called, saying, Maiden, arise.
55 And her spirit returned, and she rose up immediately: and he commanded that something be given her to eat.
56 And her parents were amazed: but he charged them to tell no man what had been done.
- I. Jesus' Actions Continued.
- A. Jesus' easily misunderstood declaration.
- 1. The girl had been declared dead and those who were there knew it.
- 2. Jesus clearly used "words" in a way that was atypical.
- a. The problem here is not hard: Jesus' words carried a meaning that was completely out of the realm of meaning that those who heard Him possessed. Typically, "died" means the departure of the spirit and the text says "her spirit returned". Thus, she "died" according to the typical meaning of the word. By the same token, "sleepeth" typically means only a succumbing to unconsciousness with the spirit yet resident. Therefore, Jesus used words in a way that was completely contrary to the hearers' use of those words. When ordinary people do this, we say they are "lying", or "deceiving". How is it that Jesus was free to do this?
- b. There are at least two issues involved here. One is the issue of "intent" in the use of words. "Lying" and "deceiving" are "intentional" in terms of attempting to get the hearers to accept the words as "true" and, by that, be injured in some way. The other is the issue of whether men's definitions of their own words are valid statements of reality when their perception of reality is dominated by unbelief. Can any "word" possess a "field of meaning" that is in denial of reality? Is not the use of a "word", with an intended "field of meaning" that is corrupt, a "lie" and an attempt to "deceive"? And if so, is not any definition of a "word" that involves lies and deceit a flawed definition? And if so, is not the use of a "word" with a legitimate field of meaning "true" even if the hearer does not have that field of meaning in mind? Is not the essence of evil the corruption of the Word so that both love and faith are perverted? Is it not, then, legitimate for Jesus to introduce the truth into the meaning of words so that those who "believe" can be delivered from the pain, loss, and hopelessness of deceit?
- c. The definition of "died" in the corrupted minds of unbelievers involved more than the "simple" meaning of "the spirit has departed" because those unbelievers were weeping and smiting themselves. The "simple" departure of the spirit is no cause for such an emotional response. Clearly, the definition of "died" carried something more than the departure of the spirit within its field of meaning because the actions are those of pain, loss, and hopelessness. Thus, "died" involves more than the departure of the spirit, and for Jesus to deny "death" because that "more than" is going to prove to be false is not "misleading" except in the sense that the hearers did not have His sense. This is the essence of "faith": to "believe" in God's sense of meaning for the words He speaks. There is a claim in the Bible that in the post-resurrection setting a "second death" will take place. In that "event", there is no indication that there will be a separation of the spirit from the resurrected body in the "second death". Thus, any definition of "death" that "simply" means "the separation of the spirit from the body" is clearly deficient and, therefore, wrong. Is it not a great deceit in this universe for men to assign "death" to the relationship between their spirit and their body and ignore the relationship between their spirit and God's?
- 3. How does one "believe" when his/her understanding of words is deficient?
- a. If Jesus' intent is to lay the foundation for "faith", does He not have the necessity upon Him to say things in a way that people can understand? If man's "words" have been corrupted so that he does not relate to reality, how can he "believe"?
- b. The actions of Jesus provide the context for converting deficient understanding into correct understanding. "She did not die, but is sleeping" was "interpreted" by the actions of Jesus to mean that her "condition" in what everyone else was incorrectly calling "death" was temporary and not a legitimate basis for the grief that was being expressed. "Die", then, has to include some sense of permanency. It is on this basis that Jesus could say, "She did not die." When men determine to think that "death" is a permanent separation of the body from the spirit, they are in direct denial of the promise of resurrection as a promise of a reunion between body and spirit. The fact is, "death" was initially defined by God as "a breach between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God" and that is still what it is. Even "resurrection" will not solve that problem if men are determined to think incorrectly because they will not believe. "Life" is by "faith", not physical mechanisms.
- B. Jesus' use of "power".
- 1. Luke says that Jesus, having taken her hand, spoke saying... .
- 2. The word "having taken" is a word that has the general meaning of "to exercise power over" so that the one under that power is restricted in what he/she can do. It is used in contexts where the issue is dominion over the physical abilities of others. One who is "taken hold of" is kept from doing anything except what the "holder" decides.
- 3. This verb fits into the field of meaning for words where the concept of "structured" power is in view. When items are organized into tools of dominion, the result is the exercise of power over others.
- 4. When Jesus "took hold of her hand", He "captured" all of the forces involved in what was to happen to the girl so that whatever He decided was what was going to happen. This is the "bottom line" of "faith": Jesus is the One Who decides what is going to happen. The exercise of "faith" is, then, the relaxing of one's own puny attempts to determine what is going to happen so as to deliberately allow Jesus to make those decisions. He is going to make those decisions in any case; but, "faith" is willing to happily accept that. Thus, "faith" is not so much "getting God to go along with one's personal agenda" as it is deliberately putting oneself in the frame of mind to happily accept what Jesus' agenda involves.
- a. In our consideration of Luke's record, we see a woman who is "intent" upon touching Jesus so that she can get "what she wants" from Him. This implies a "faith" that "uses" others to get one's own desired results. This appears to be in direct contradiction to what I just wrote about "faith" not being so much a matter of "getting God to go along with our own agenda" because Jesus called what she did an act of "faith". However, what that woman actually received from Jesus was far more than simply what she thought she wanted because He, by healing her and forcing her to "go public", compelled her to deal with His agenda: "Daughter, your faith has saved you, proceed unto peace."
- b. Consequently, Luke's record also records Jesus telling Jairus to "stop being afraid, just believe and she shall be saved." Jairus clearly did not do that, but, nevertheless, Jesus' "intent" was fulfilled in that He "saved" the girl and, thereby, forced the witnesses to deal with the ultimate question of His identity and His exercise of "power".
- c. The biggest problem of "faith" seems to be the conviction that His agenda is for our good so that we can "happily accept" it. The issue is not an issue of "passivity/activity" on our part: what is important to us is important to us. But "faith" allows what is important to "Love" to be important to "us". We are going to be "active" in any case. The issue is whether our activity is going to be "confident" or "fearful".
- C. Jesus' command to give the girl something to eat.
- 1. This may well be the most puzzling part of the record. Why did Jesus give this instruction, and why did Luke record it? What is it about "eating" that is important to Luke's record? What does "eating" do to our thinking about Jesus and His power? At first blush, there does not seem to be any easy answer to this issue.
- 2. The most direct implication of Jesus' command is that the girl was hungry. If she had been seriously ill for any length of time, her stomach would have been empty. The most direct implication of Jesus' response to her hunger is that He was unwilling for that to be the case. And, the most direct implication of His unwillingness for that to be the case is that He had her needs in mind and that, even if "hunger" was not a major issue (and it was not), He was willing to "care" about every level of need. In some ways this is ironic: Jesus had let the girl sicken and suffer and die, but He was now unwilling for her to even be hungry. The contrast is enormous, but if the issue for Jesus was to reveal the facts that suffering and loss are the consequence of His absence and that life and satisfaction are the consequence of His presence, it was a very necessary contrast. While living in the bondage of unbelief, people endure suffering and loss, but when "faith" arrives, "Life" also arrives.