I only post this because I had a pretty obvious (to me anyway) Star Wars reference, and no one caught it. (Trigger Warning for Star Wars fans: Something Ben Kenobi said was WRONG!!!)
We see so little of what’s really happening, that we’re practically blind. Jesus sees things clearly. He comes to raise the little girl from the dead. But he refuses to say that she has died. As far as Jesus is concerned, she’s only sleeping. And a light sleep at that – he takes her hand, and up she gets. Not groggy or confused. Not “Can I have five more minutes here”. She gets up more easily than we do in the morning. Jesus does two miracles in the Gospel reading. The first – the woman with the flow of blood. A touch of Jesus garment, and she is healed. Now, Jesus touches the dead girl’s hand, and she’s alive. That’s all. That’s how both miracles happen. The woman who was bleeding touches Jesus, and is healed. Jesus touches the little girl and she arises.
And yet, the people mock Jesus. He says she’s just sleeping – they can’t believe that. They know what dead is, and it’s the little girl. They can see. The dead don’t get back up. Tragic though it may be, she’s gone. And it’s time for the family and friends to move on.
But that’s not how things work when Jesus is around. It’s how things work in the world – we know it only too well. The news is full of sad stories, and our only response to such tragedies and atrocities is to say, “Please God, protect us from such things.” Our life is such a slender thread, and despite all the amazing medical advances, there are still so many ways for life to be cut short. In the Gospel reading, the girl is sick, and she dies – much more common for children back then than now. Assuming you even survived childbirth, the odds of reading adulthood were not quite one in two. This little girl, so it seems, didn’t make it.
That’s what our eyes see.
But that’s not what Jesus sees. He sees a little child, not of her earthly father but of His heavenly Father, who has fallen asleep with the promise of salvation. He sees a family grieving because they think it is the end. But Jesus knows that waking her is as simple as coming in and taking her hand. Healed! Made alive again! The crowd may have doubted and laughed, but the father knew there was only one hope – even if it was distant and desparate. And so, Jesus comes and makes her alive again.
Our eyes see death, Jesus sees – and gives to them – life.
That’s the way it is. We see things differently than God does. And that’s not just because each person has a different point of view. It is not as if the truths we cling to really just depend on our point of view. No. God sees things as they really are. We see dimly, as in a mirror. Not a modern mirror, where a perfectly flat piece of glass has a metal film on it. No, a polished piece of metal that almost resembles reality if you get back far enough, squint, and don’t get too critical about the results. That’s what we have. A dim mirror, polished as best we can in this world, but still not a real picture. Even for the Christian, for those of us who live by faith, not by sight, it gets hard to see things as they really are.
Sin gets in the way, and we can’t see clearly. We get caught up in our own fleshly desires, disobedience, anger, lust, greed. Even for the Christian, we stumble and fall. And then rather than confessing our sin, the sinful flesh wants to justify, to explain away. We don’t see God’s law clearly. We don’t long for the things of God. And we wander away, like sheep who have a death wish, but don’t know it. We think we’re doing fine. But we need the shepherd to come and save us from ourselves.
Or death comes to a loved one and we can’t see through he darkness. We are caught up in grief and do not see that Jesus has saved us from sin, death and the devil. That even death itself has lost its power. We can’t see that, because we sin and death have blinded us to the salvation Christ freely gives through his death and resurrection.
Jesus sees things as they are. Not dead, but sleeping. Not sick, but healed. Not enemies, but dear friends. No longer sinners, but redeemed children of God. Dearly loved and made holy by the power of God’s word and sacraments.
That’s what happened this morning. We see acute little baby. But sin means an enemy of God, and a child of Satan. We saw some water poured, a few cryptic words spoken. But the Word of God is in that water. And the words spoken are not our words, they are the words of the almighty God, who knit Brealyn together in her mother’s womb. Who called her through the water and the Word that He gives to be his child. The one who actually baptized today was our Lord who heals and makes alive again. And that’s what he did. He took a child of sin and death, and made her alive, gave her the new life that comes only because Jesus suffered and died on her behalf.
We hear of death and resurrection in the Gospel reading. Well, that’s what we saw today. A child brought here, killed, drowned in that water, and then made alive again through the same water. Just as the girl in the Gospel reading was alive, then dead, then alive. So Braelyn was dead in her sins, then her old Adam was drowned in that water, and she was brought forth a new child of God.
Things really aren’t what they seem. At the font today, a new life in Christ was given. Just as it was for each person who would be joined to Christ and to his church. God would have all to be saved. He wants you to also have life, and have it to the full. Great cosmic events are afoot today. It seems like singing and speaking and pouring. Nothing all that impressive. But it’s death and life and eternity breaking through. Thanks be to God.