Touch: A Step Toward Life

KEY VERSE: “He … took her by the hand, and called saying, Maid arise.” —Luke 8:54


THE death of a twelve-year-old child is a very sad occasion. As Jesus and three of his disciples entered the house of Jarius, whose young daughter had just died, they were deeply touched with the mourning and weeping of the family and friends gathered there. Death is indeed a great enemy.

But it is not an unconquerable one, as our Lord took occasion to demonstrate that day. Speaking to the people, he said, “Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.” That death should be likened to sleep is such an encouraging and hopeful symbolism, but yet one which is very difficult for unenlightened people to grasp. And it was so then. They knew she was dead, and scorned Jesus for his words.

The Bible in its use of words goes to great lengths to express this fact about death. David wrote concerning “the sleep of death,” and some of the Old Testament promises liken the resurrection to an awakening from sleep. (Ps. 13:3) The Lord promised Daniel, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” The word many is not used here to imply that only a part of those in death will be awakened, but rather to emphasize the great number—actually it is referring to the multitude who are dead and are to be awakened from the sleep of death.—Dan. 12:2

They are “sleeping” in the “dust of the earth.” This expression is used to remind us that the ones to be awakened from death are those upon whom fell the penalty, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19) It is in keeping with Paul’s explanation, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—I Cor. 15:22

The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Thy dead men shall live. … Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” (Isa. 26:19) Here we have the assurance that the awakening of the dead will bring rejoicing, for they are bidden to “awake and sing.”

A similar thought is expressed through the use of the word ‘prisoner’. The Old Testament refers to the dead as being held captive in death, and their awakening as a release from captivity. (Ps. 102:20; Isa. 49:9; 61:1) Job, after mentioning the dead state of the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the rulers, the wicked—in fact essentially all the varied categories into which the human race is divided—adds, “There [in death] the prisoners rest together.”—Job 3:18

In a promise to Christ, and those who will be associated with him in the future work of restoring the world to life, the Father said, “Thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves.” (Isa. 49:9) In verse 8 of this chapter we are informed that the purpose in calling these prisoners forth from death is that they might “inherit the desolate heritages.” This is a reference to man’s original heritage of the earth—a heritage which was lost and which was left desolate because of original sin.

The Prophet David wrote concerning Jesus, “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord might dwell among them.” (Ps. 68:18) This prophecy is quoted by the Apostle Paul and applied to the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. (Eph. 4:8) In the marginal translation of Paul’s quotation we are given the thought that Jesus, in his resurrection, became the leader from death of “a multitude of captives.”

Thus in the New Testament Jesus is portrayed to us as the one who leads forth all the prisoners of death from their captivity. When Martha said to Jesus that she knew Lazarus would live again in the resurrection at the “last day,” Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” (John 11:23-25) Martha may well have had in mind the prophecies of the Old Testament stating that the prisoners of death would be released from their captivity in the “latter days,” and Jesus simply explained that he will be the one to release, or lead forth the captives.

These Old Testament thoughts were probably uppermost in Jesus’ mind at the time of the occurrence of our text, and so to demonstrate their validity through himself, he took the dead girl by the hand and said, “Maid arise!” and her life returned. The three disciples who were there must have recalled this event later, when Jesus declared that the hour would come when all that are in the grave shall hear his voice and come forth.—John 5:28,29

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |