Mark 9:26-27 The boy appeared to be dead . . . But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.
I re-read this story today because August 6 in the Western tradition of the church is the day we remember Jesus’s transfiguration. Jesus appeared in glory to three of his disciples, who heard the Father’s voice saying “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” As they came down the mountain, Jesus explained (again) to his disciples that he would die, but he would rise from the dead. Mark says they didn’t understand; they asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.”
Jesus gave them an object lesson. When they rejoined the other disciples, they encountered another son, and another father. This only and dearly loved son was tormented by evil (as Jesus would be) to the point that he appeared to be dead. But Jesus healed him and restored him to his father. Imagine the father’s joy! Jesus would shortly be truly dead, but God his Father would restore him to himself. Imagine the celebration in Heaven!
As I write this, two dear friends have just lost a dearly loved and only son. Another friend has lost his mother. Because of losing Karis, I deeply feel my friends’ gut-wrenching pain. And because of losing Karis, I also can imagine the joy in Heaven as each one’s wounds—emotional, spiritual, and physical—are being healed. As each beloved one’s suffering is soothed; as all that went wrong in our broken world is put right. As God’s tender, gentle love is poured into this son, Gabe, and this mother, Irene. As Jesus takes each of them by the hand, and helps them to their feet, and fills them with the Life that here we can only glimpse.
I’m reminded of the “year verse” Karis chose for 2014. It’s from another story in Mark. A little girl has died. “Holding her hand, Jesus said to her, “Little girl, get up!” (Mark 5:41). Karis had been discouraged. She believed that through this verse God was telling her to stop her “pity party,” as she called it, and get back to living. Indeed, over the next few weeks Karis was more animated than she had been for some time. But on February 5, she felt Jesus’ hand and heard his voice in Heaven. Imagine her joy. Imagine seeing Jesus in all his glory, not just for a few minutes as the disciples did on the mountain, but always.
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face . . .” (1 Corinthians 13:12).