Not Dead, But Sleeping
Mark 5:21-43
And when Jesus was passed over again by ship to the other side, much people gathered to him: and he was near to the sea.…

Nature puts on a shroud at seasons, and seems to glide into the grave of winter. Autumnal blasts come sobbing through the trees, and leaf after leaf, shrivelling its fibres at the killing contact, comes drifting to the ground. The hedgerows where the May flowers and the dog rose mixed their scents are stripped and bare, and lift their thorny fingers up to heaven. The field where fat and wealthy-looking crops a while ago promised their golden sheaves, is now spread over with a coarse fringe of stubble, and seems a sort of hospital of vegetation. The garden shows no more its beauties, nor sheds forth its scent, but where the coloured petal and the painted cup of the gay flower were seen, there stands a blighted stem, or a drooping tuft of refuse herbs. The birds which carolled to the summer sky have fled away, and their note no longer greets the ear. The very daisies on the meadow are buried in the snow wreath, and the raw blast howls a sad requiem at the funeral of nature. But those trees, whose leafless branches seem to wrestle with the rough winds that toss them, are not dead. Anon, and they shall again be wreathed in verdure and bedecked with blossom. The softened breath of spring shall whisper to the snowdrop to dart forth its modest head, and shall broider the garden path again with flowers; the fragrance of the hawthorn bloom ere long shall gush from those naked hedge rows, and the returning lark shall wake the morning with a new and willing song. No, nature is not dead! There is a resurrection coming on. Spring with its touch of wizardry shall wake her from her slumbers, and sound again the keynote of the suspended music of the spheres. So also shall there arise out of the raging conflagration, in whose fevered heat the elements shall melt and shrivel like a scroll — even out of the very ashes which betoken its consumption — a new heaven and a new earth — an earth as ethereal and pure as heaven itself — and a heaven as substantial and as living as the earth. And consentaneously with the arising of these new worlds; the tombs shall open, and send forth the shrouded tenants, to enter on the inheritance which, in that new economy, shall be theirs. Can you believe that faded flowers shall revive at the blithe beckoning of the spring, that little leaves will quietly unfold at the mandate of the morning, and yet there shall be no spring to beckon the mortal back to life, and no morning to command the clay to clothe itself with the garments of a quickening spirit? Can you believe that the great temple shall arise with all its shrines rebuilded, and its altars purified after the final burning, but that there shall be neither voice nor trumpet to call forth the high priest from his slumber to worship at those shrines, and to lay a more enduring offering upon those waiting altars? Is the fuel to be ever laid, and none to kindle the burnt offering? Is the sanctuary to be prepared, and none to pay the service? Is the bridegroom to stand alone before the altar, and no bride to meet him at the nuptials? God forbid! The high priest is not dead — the bride has not perished — they are not dead, but sleep. Sound forth the trumpet, and say that all is ready, and then the corruptible will put on incorruption, and the mortal will put on immortality. Thus, when we lay our kindred in the earth, and follow to their final resting place the last remains of those who occupied a cherished chamber in our hearts — while nature finds it hard to dry the tear and quench the sigh — faith ever lifts the spirit from its sad despondency, by assuring us of a reunion beyond the grave — and robs the monster of one half his terrors — weakening his stroke and taking away his sting, by changing the mystic trance into which he throws his victims into a transient sleep, and speaking of a waking time of happiness and icy. Nature will look on death as an assassin who murders those we love; but Faith regards him as a nurse who hushes them to sleep, and sings a lullaby and not a requiem beside their bed. To faith it is a sleeping draught and not a poison which the visitor holds to the drinker's lips; for it hails the time when the lethargy of the sepulchre shall be cast off, and the spirit shall arise like a tired slumberer refreshed by sleep, to spend an endless morning in the energy of an endless youth.

(A. Mursell.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.

WEB: When Jesus had crossed back over in the boat to the other side, a great multitude was gathered to him; and he was by the sea.

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