As we close out week 10 of the study of Luke today I want to revisit where we left off on Tuesday. Jesus was asked to heal a sick girl, but on the way to do so, they received word that the girl has died. Undeterred, Jesus pushes onward. As you’ll remember from Tuesday, Jesus walks in and shares this moment with the people in the house where the girl just died.
Luke 8:52 The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
It’s an inspiring verse to me because it’s a reminder that no situation is beyond the redemptive power of Jesus. But people have the strangest reactions to Jesus sometimes. Look at the very next verse.
Luke 8:53 But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died.
They didn’t doubt him, they didn’t inwardly think he was a fool, they actively laughed at him. There’s a level on which this verse deeply angers me. Jesus came here, to them, even when they sent a messenger to tell him it was hopeless. He pressed on, determined to make an impact on everyone there by the miracle of resurrection he was planning to perform, and here they are laughing at him.
What’s funny is, God’s really softened my heart a lot on things like this. Of course they laughed, they didn’t realize who he was. Believers spend a little too much time getting offended over what non-believers do and say, but the fact is that from the outside it makes sense to them to do and say those things. If I didn’t know what I know and hadn’t experienced what I’ve experienced, I might scoff at hardcore, sold out Jesus freaks that I met. When I was younger, I remember seeing a church gather in a circle around the broken down car of one of their church members and pray healing and restoration over it. I can vividly recall how idiotic I thought the scene was, just how completely stupid and clueless I thought those people were. Fast forward twenty years and I found myself in a situation where I stood with a few fellow believers around a broken down vehicle and was asked to pray with them that the car would be healed. I felt a little silly, but I knew who God was at this point, so I forced myself to try to take it seriously and pray along with the three other people who were present. And I saw a dead car roar to life. I’ll never think people praying over cars is idiotic again, and if you’ve got a car you want me to pray over I’ll do it in a heartbeat.
The point is, until I knew God and had an experience with His power, I scoffed at something that (let’s be honest) invited a bit of scoffing. From the outside, praying over a car is without a doubt a silly concept. When a teacher who is rumored to be healing people in the name of God walks into your house and says the dead girl who is most certainly without a doubt dead is really just sleeping, laughter might actually be the appropriate response. We gotta stop hating on people outside of the faith when they don’t understand our faith. We close our eyes and raise our hands to something invisible, we give up the pleasures and treasures of this world for the promise of invisible treasures that are waiting for us in a magical house that’s on another plane of existence. I know for a fact that everything I just wrote is absolute truth and even I chuckle over the absurdity of it from time to time. It’s weird! Stop pretending like it isn’t, because it is! We’re in their world, clinging to the ideals and beliefs of a different world. If they need to laugh when they hear about or get a glimpse of our world, let them. At least they’re being exposed to the things of God for a moment. Laughter’s not going to kill us, and our reaction to that laughter could very easily set the direction for where our future ministry opportunities with that person are going to go. Drive them away as we scowl at them and tell them how offended we are? Or make them curious and draw them in when we smile and are kind in return, when we are mature enough to admit and discuss how alien some of our beliefs and traditions can seem?
Before I sign off for the day, there’s a second thing we can get out of this verse. Jesus didn’t answer with words, he answered with his actions. He announces that she’s not dead, but only sleeping, and they laugh at him. In this moment, Jesus easily could’ve engaged them in conversation. “You laugh, but surely you would not laugh if only you knew who it is that sent me.” That sounds like something Jesus maybe could’ve said there, right? He could’ve chastised them, debated them, taught them, yelled at them, but this wasn’t a time for words. Jesus responded to their disbelief and their disrespect with actions.
I know a lot of believers who have people in their lives that like to make fun of them or make negative comments to them. “Looks like you’re having a hard day, where’s Jesus when you need him?” Or they’ll jump on the tiniest of slip-ups or imperfections they see in your life. “So much for being a Christian.” Anytime you have someone who is vocally coming against you in life, if they’re a co-worker or family member or whatever, I truly believe that the best response is the one that Jesus used in this moment we’re studying today. Answer with action. Actions speak volumes and words too often fall on deaf ears. Yet no one can deny a loving action in response to a spiteful word. A good deed done for a mean-spirited unbeliever who makes fun of your faith is worth a hundred beautifully worded sermons.
Luke 8:53-55 But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died.54 Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” 55 And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.
I promise you this, nobody in that house ever laughed at Jesus or what he could do ever again.
That’s it for this week on the blog. I love all of you very much, thanks for your continuing support here each week. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
If you have any prayer requests or just need to talk, my email is always open to you at firstname.lastname@example.org