Why don’t we see the dead raised today as we read about in Jesus’ day? In fact, why did Jesus Himself raise the dead at all when He walked this earth?
Jesus has authority over death. Death is subject to the influence of Jesus Christ. That’s the main truth. This miracle is a sign. It signifies what He’s going to do. He’s going to raise the dead. That’s what this miracle is all about. Signposts are important, aren’t they? When you see the signpost, you don’t say, “Oh, we’ve arrived.” You go the direction and you go the mileage that it says on the signpost. You say, okay, why don’t we see this sort of thing now in San Antonio? Why don’t we see two or three times a year a death certificate being torn up and the explanation given that they’ve been raised from the dead. Why don’t we see it? Well, for the same reason that you don’t see it very often when Jesus was on this earth. The Gospel’s tell us – Luke 7 – of the widow’s son who died – her only son – in Naan and how Jesus raised the boy from the dead. And in John 11 you have the raising of Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother. And Jesus raises him from the dead. And here in Mark 5. Just these three. There may have been others, but we’re not told that there were others. Only three. In other words, He didn’t bring many back from the dead. Why not? Well, because it wasn’t the time. The time for that is resurrection day at the second coming of Christ. What we have here are samples of that resurrection. Many people who died when Jesus had His life (30 years) and His ministry (3 years), they remained dead. He didn’t empty the cemeteries. He didn’t put funeral directors out of business. Grave diggers made a living all those years that Jesus was on earth. Just these few. Why did Jesus raise them? Why did Jesus restore them? Well, to show us what is ultimate reality. Alright? That’s a lovely phrase. What is ultimate reality? Is it the corpse? Is it the coffin? Is it the grave? Is that what it’s all about? Ultimate reality is that we die and rot? Or is ultimate reality Jesus Christ? That’s the challenge that you all have to face up to. What is ultimate reality? That He has power over the grave. He can open the jaws of death and He can bring out from the grave those who have died. It was a sign. It was a foretaste. It was a preliminary sketch of what is yet to come. That’s what it was. Let me pick up that word: “foretaste.” We lived in a little house when I was a boy in the 1940’s. I would be up first, I suppose. My father was up, then my mother. My father would rake out the ashes from the fire that kept that one room warm in the winter. He’d get the ashes out. He’s put the unburned coal on one side. And he’d put paper, and he’d put sticks, and he’d put coal. He’d put the coke on top of that. Then he’d light it with a match. Then he’d made a metal blower that he’d put over. And he’d put paper around it to seal it so the draft would be underneath. And then the paper lit the sticks and the sticks would light the coal. I’d watch all this every day. He’d go over then to the sink. My mother would be at the oven there and she would be cooking eggs and bacon. That’s all we had. We never had cereal. Eggs and bacon we had. And my father would wash and then he’d shave at the sink there. And then that room would warm up. And mom and I, before I went to school, I’d be in that room with my mother. And in the afternoon, we’d listen to the radio together. And then she’d make cake. She’d put in the butter and the flour and the sugar and the ingredients and she’d mix them all up. She’d have two tins and she’d put them in the two tins in some grease-proof paper and she’d put them in the oven for 40 minutes or so. Then she’d give me the bowl and the spoon. I can taste it still. And then in 45 minutes, she’d open the oven and she’d bring out the cake and she’d unclip it and take away the paper. Then she’d put jam across the two. She’d put the kettle on and she’d make two cups of tea – very milky for me, and a cup of tea for her. And she’d cut the cake. She’d give me a piece of warm, warm mum’s cake. I’d had the foretaste, but now I had the cake. Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Naan’s son, Lazarus raising – they’re the foretastes of what’s going to happen when He comes in the clouds of Heaven at the end of the world when the trumpet shall sound and the dead in Christ be raised. And as He was raised from the dead, that’s how the miracles of Jesus function – they give hope to us. When we say goodbye to our loved ones in the grave, we know we’re going to see them again. That’s how it functioned. It functioned for James. He’s always the first, because he’s the oldest I presume. James and John. He doesn’t live long, does he? Within a year or so, Herod has arrested him and one day he’s in prison and three soldiers come into the cell, and one has a short-bladed sword and they get him by an arm each and they do the swoop up. Quite merciless… and merciful. Through the solar plexus into the heart. And as he realizes, ah, he’s got memories. “Lazarus, come forth.” “Talitha cumi.” Jesus and the widow of Naan’s son and him. Forty days He’s there with Him talking. This isn’t the end. “Because I live, you shall live also.” The great hope that the Christian has.