In Death, Believe Only
These are the readings for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
What are we to think when a baby dies? Or a 12-year-old girl? Or we, at any age, see death looming? ‘Believe only,’ Jesus said. Is that ‘just believe’ as if believing is something easy or minor? No. He means no fear! Believe only. God calls us away from all trust in ourselves or anyone else to rely only in him and his promises in Christ, our Risen Savior.
Traditional First Lesson – Lamentations 3:22-33
When things were miserable around him, from what did the writer get his hope?
When we feel we have hit “rock bottom,” we too should be reminded that things could be far worse. God could have given us full punishment for our sins (yes, even the “small” ones). It is because of God’s great love that you are still alive! But look around you. His mercies show themselves faithfully every morning in the sunshine and the rain—in the little joys that come our way. Look for it every day. Since his compassion will never fail us, we should wait patiently for the timing of his blessings.
What good can God be accomplishing for us in sufferings?
There is strength given in the testing field of suffering. It begins as God strips away pride and self-righteousness and teaches us true humility and a greater dependence on him alone. (See Romans 5:1-6, Hebrews 12:7-11, 1 Peter 1:3-9.)
Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Samuel 12:11-25
Why is it significant that David and Bathsheba’s son died on his seventh day?
The boy would have been circumcised on the eighth day of his life, a week after his birth. (See Leviticus 12:3.) God said any uncircumcised male would be cut off from God’s people.
What is the last thing God records about what David said regarding his dead baby?
David said, ‘I will go to him, but he will not return to me.’
What hope does this seem to show?
David seems to have expected to be reunited with his baby after death. David’s sin had cost the child the child’s life, but David remains confident of God’s undeserved love.
Traditional Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 8:1-9,13,14
What was so amazing about the “grace of giving” seen among the Macedonian churches?
The overflowing joy sprang up not from outstanding wealth but from severe trials and extreme poverty. In spite of the obvious needs they had, they were rich in generosity—even giving beyond their ability. What a testimony to God’s power in them.
Of what would the Corinthian’s giving be a “test”?
Paul wanted to test the sincerity of their love by their faithfulness in giving. It is so easy to say you love the Lord and love his people. The proof is in the doing. (Look at the actions of faith displayed in Matthew 25:34-40 or James 2:14-18.)
What was the motivation behind their giving?
The motivation for our sacrificial generosity centers in Christ, who gave up the riches of heaven to come to the poverty of this world in order to win for us the outstanding inheritance of heaven. Who would not want to “give themselves first to the Lord” when they truly understand that? (See 2 Corinthians 5:13-15.)
Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Timothy 1:8-14
Timothy must not be ashamed of the gospel, though that gospel had gotten Paul imprisoned and soon would get him beheaded. What should Timothy do?
Timothy should join with Paul in suffering for the gospel. He should preach with sound words, just as Paul had. He should guard the truth of the gospel like a prison guard watches a prisoner, knowing his very life is at stake.
Jesus has not just defeated death. What else has he done? (See 2 Timothy 1:10.)
Jesus has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Gospel – Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43
How did Jairus show faith in Jesus?
Jairus came to Jesus knowing he could do what no one else could. He believed that Jesus could put his hands on his dying daughter, and she would be healed.
What words did Jesus speak in 5:36 that should stick with us? Why?
When Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid, just believe,’ he was speaking to a situation that looked impossible. The child was dead; anyone could see it. But nothing is impossible with God. Jesus lovingly restored the girl to life. Think of all the reasons we can have sure hope. Since Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter back to life:
• Jesus is God.
• Death does not faze Jesus.
• Even Jesus’ seeming delays are part of his good plan.
• Jesus is all-powerful; raises the dead effortlessly.
• Jesus promised to raise us from the dead to eternal life.
• Whenever Jesus promises us grace, we don’t have to do anything, for we merit nothing; he tells us ‘Believe only.’