AGAPE LIFE (Part 2) Raising The Dead, Mark 5: 21-43, Pastor Carey, All Saints Weekend – November 5, 2017

C.S. Lewis once wrote, God loved us not because WE were lovable, but because GOD IS love! That divine love is explained in scriptures as Agape love. There are 200 references in the New Testament of  agape love. Agape, and its verb form agapao, is one of the several Greek words for love. The Bible also mentions phileo, or brotherly love, and refers to eros, erotic love. The Greeks also spoke of storge, which is a love between family members.

Agape love is a little different. It is not a feeling; it’s a motivation for action that we are free to choose or reject. Agape is a sacrificial love that voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort, and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return. We are called to agape love through Christ’s example.  Ephesians 5:2 tells us, “Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” We are to agapao God, our neighbor, and even our enemies. We are not to agapao money, darkness, or human’s approval.  When we do, we get into trouble.

Agape love transforms life – our life!  Because we have received agape love from Jesus and because we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called to live out agape love in every part of our life: what we say and what we do.  Living agape life has incredible blessing and transformation possibilities whenever we live into and out of agape love with others.  Two weeks ago Mylicia shared that agape life invites us to serve Jesus by serving others in Jesus’ name – to wash their feet.  On All Saints Weekend, let’s ponder how living and sharing agape life raises the dead.

There are 10 stories of persons being raised from the dead in the Bible, 3 in OT and 7 in the NT. While I doubt many in our church family have been able to resurrect a person who has physically died, I would bet that many of us have been used of God to bring back someone’s hope, love, joy and even their faith from the brink of death by something we did or said or just our presence with them during some major crisis.

Our scripture lesson today is a double resurrection story. If we had more time we would look at all the many aspects of the two miracles. But for our purposes today, let’s consider the fact that while Jesus was on his way to heal a very sick little 12 year-old girl, a very sick woman touched his garment (not him) and was healed of a 12-year infirmity that had cost her everything: financially, emotionally, relationally, physically and spiritually. She wasn’t physically dead, but everything else was.  To her, Jesus was her only chance for healing or resurrection and her faith in him was so certain that all she needed to do was to touch his garment – not him and she would be healed – and she was!  Recognizing healing power had gone out from him, he stopped and addressed the faithful woman with words of resurrection: “Your faith has made you well.  Go in peace. Your suffering is over!”

By the time Jesus arrived at the home of the sick little girl, she was dead.  But Jesus’ words to the child’s father was “have faith, she’s only asleep.”  After clearing out all of the mourners, Jesus took the hand of the girl and told her to get up, and she did.

In both stories, Jesus entered into the chaos of life.  For the woman there was the chaos of the streets.  Everyone was moving, pushing, hurrying along.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the “flow” of chaos and we can feel all alone in the midst of a big crowd.  Yet, even with all of the activity, Jesus was sensitive to a single touch that brought healing power from him. I wonder how many persons that we know are feeling spiritually dead these days?  How many are wondering how they will survive the holidays?  How many have experienced the ugliness of life that can cost us everything from finances to relationships and even their faith?

The home of the little girl was a mass of chaos by the time Jesus got there.  There were family, neighbors and professional mourners.  I can only imagine the noise and the craziness that had set in.  So Jesus does two things, first, her tells the mourners to go home, the girl is only asleep.  Then Jesus takes the Mother and Father to the room she was in and raised the girl back to life.

Notice that the difference in the midst of the chaos was the calm, peaceful and agape life of Jesus.  His love and his presence sends chaos away, so that his love can work.  A man stopped by a florist to order and send his mother a birthday-arrangement of flowers. She lived 200 miles away.  As he walked out of the store he noticed a little girl sitting on the curb crying.  He asked why and the girl said she had wanted to buy her mother a rose but only had 75 cents and they cost $2.  The man quickly invited her back into the store where he bought the rose.  As they were leaving he offered her a ride home and the girl told him yes, that he could take her to her mother.  The address she gave was the town cemetery where the girl placed the rose on a freshly dug grave.  The man later returned to the florist shop, cancelled the wire order, bought a bouquet and drove the 200 miles to his mother’s home.

Agape living raises the dead when we care about and care for those who are hurting, wounded, mistreated and in crisis.  We raise the dead when we respond to the cries of the needy.  We raise the dead when we reveal the Jesus in us to another whose hope is almost gone.  We raise the dead every time we pray for others, every time we give our financial resources, our time, our energy, our concern.  We raise the dead as we live into the Matthew 25 parable by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, watering the thirsty, visiting the sick or imprisoned or welcoming a stranger.

A girls’ softball team was rallying and with the bases loaded when the worst player on the team came to bat.  Everyone was cheering for her but she struck out.  The team lost.  After the game, as the team gathered the coach praised the girls for a well-played game.  And then he called attention to the player (still in tears) who struck out to end the game. The coach told the girls that their teammate had gotten a special math award earlier that day as the top student in her school and gave her great praise for being such a super math student.  She stopped crying.  His words raised the dead!

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