While he was still speaking, some people who had visited the house of the synagogue elder told him, “Your daughter is dead – why are you still bothering the Teacher?” Yet when Jesus heard what was being spoken, he said to the chief priest, “Don’t be afraid, just have faith.” Then he allowed no one to accompany him except Peter, James and John – the brother of James. Then he arrived at the house of the synagogue elder and saw the commotion – and those who were weeping and crying loudly. After he went in, he asked them, “Why all the agitation and crying? The girl is not dead – she is only sleeping.” Then they laughed and ridiculed him. Yet after he expelled them, he took the father and the mother of the girl, and those who were with him, and went in where the girl was lying. Then he held the girl’s hand and said to her, “Talitha koum” – which means, “Girl, I am telling you, wake up.” (Mark 5:35-41)What is going on here? This event has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by sectarian teachers who confuse the physical body with the self.
Because they confuse the temporary physical body with the self they think that a person dies when their body dies. And for those of these who believe in life after death - they think the physical body will live on after death.
Thus we find many who will suggest that when they go to heaven they will see the physical bodies of all their ancestors and family members. They think that somehow the physical body will float up to heaven.
This is despite the fact that the physical body decomposes shortly after it dies. If it weren't for embalming fluids - which slow the decomposition process - the person body would begin decomposing before it could be buried. But even with embalming fluid, the body still decomposes. Within a decade, the entire body will be skeletal remains, and within a few decades the bones will demineralize and become compost.
So how could this body get up to heaven if it has decomposed? And how could we recognize our family members after death if their bodies have decomposed?
The physical body - nor some kind of subtle appearance of one - does not live on after death. Nor does it go to heaven. Each of us leaves the physical body at the time of death. We leave it behind forever. Jesus confirmed this when he answered a question:
“Master, Moses wrote that if a man’s brother dies, leaving his wife behind without children, the brother should marry his wife and she will raise his brother’s children. Now there were seven brothers and the first married the wife but died, having no children. And the second married her and died and didn’t have children – the same with the third brother. All seven had married her and had no children – and then at last the woman also died. Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise from the dead body, whose wife will she be? For all seven had married her? Jesus answered them, “You are in error do you not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? Because when we arise from the dead body we neither marry nor be given in marriage – but will be as angels in the spiritual realm. With regard to the arising from the dead body, have you not read in the Scripture of Moses about the burning bush – how from within the bush God spoke to him saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living – therefore you are greatly mistaken.” (Mark 12:19-27)Jesus is describing the fact that we are not these physical bodies. To "arise from the dead body" means that the person - who is made of spirit not matter - leaves the physical body at the time of death.
Yes, hundreds of thousands of clinical death cases have shown that the self will rise up from and leave the physical body at the time of death. And should the body be revived, this spirit-person - the self - may return to the physical body to resume their life within it.
Clinical death research confirms this
Hundreds of thousands of cases have indicated the person rises up and looks down at the body at the time of death. Thousands of verified testimonies by those whose bodies clinically died and were revived prove that the person really floated up because they describe things that took place in the hospital or other location that they could not have otherwise seen with their body's eyes - as the face is often covered up and the eyes are closed.
So how would one describe such a state where the spirit-person has risen up from the physical body, looking down upon that physical body, yet has not yet left?
As described in clinical death cases, this occurs just after the time of death for awhile, until the spirit-person is then guided away - through a tunnel - to their time of judgement and their next destination.
This state - where the person is still floating above the body - is being described by Jesus as being "asleep" - translated from the Greek word καθεύδω (katheudō), which means "to sleep."
What happens when we sleep?
This doesn't necessarily mean the self leaves the body during dreaming - but this can happen. Most of the time we simply play out our fantasies and our fears within the mind. But during this time, we lose our consciousness of the physical body. We forget the body is lying in bed as we play out our dreams.
While different, this state of suspended animation is similar to the state Jesus is describing for the young girl - as her spirit-person had rose above her body but she was still around, and able to return to her body.
So Jesus - using the authority and empowerment given to him by the Supreme Being - simply brought the young girl back into her body. He commanded:
"Talitha koum!"This means, literally, "Girl, wake up!"
Jesus is instructing the spirit-person to re-engage within that physical body. And because Jesus had the authority to reach into the subtle planes of existence - also evidenced by Jesus' being able to exorcize demons - Jesus was able to command the spirit-person back into her physical body.
As Jesus himself disclosed, this authority was granted to him by the Supreme Being:
“You know me and know where I am from; but I am not here on my own authority, for He who sent me is real – He whom you do not know. I know Him because I am from Him and He sent me.” (John 7:28-29)The point Jesus is also making here relates specifically to his teaching that we are not the physical body - we are the spirit-person within, who rise from the body at the time of death. This is why Jesus said, "Why all this commotion and wailing?"
This instruction is confirmed by another statement by Jesus, made to a student who wanted to attend his father's funeral:
““Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matt. 8:22)Jesus is metaphorically describing that a person's physical body can be alive, yet they may be spiritually dead, evidenced by their misidentification of the body as the self. This juxtaposes the concept that a person's physical body may be dead but they can still be very much spiritually alive.
This is because each of us - each spirit-person - is eternal. We are not these physical bodies. Our self - our spiritual form - is eternal, and our relationship with the Supreme Being is eternal.
(The New Testament verses in this article are quoted from the Gospels of Jesus)