He said unto them,
Depart: for the girl is not dead, but sleeps.
And they laughed him to scorn.
Read Chapter 9
George Leo Haydock
The girl is not dead. Christ, by saying so, insinuated that she was not dead in such a manner as they imagined; that is, so as to remain dead, but presently to return to life, as if she had been only asleep. (Witham)
But sleepeth. In the xi. chapter of St. John, Christ again calls death a sleep. Our friend Lazarus sleepeth. Thus he teaches us to be no longer in dread of death, since it was reduced to the condition of a sleep. If you believe this, why do you vainly weep? why do you afflict yourself? this the Gentiles do, who have not faith. Your child is asleep, not dead, is gone to a place of rest, not to destruction. Therefore the royal prophet says, "Turn, O my soul, into thy rest, for the Lord hath been bountiful to thee. "(Psalm cxiv.) If then it is a kindness, why should you weep? what else could you do at the death of an adversary, an enemy, the object of your greatest aversion? (St. Chrysostom, hom. xxxii.)
Christ here asserts that the girl is only asleep, to show that it was ...
Noble tokens, surely, these, of the rulers of synagogues; in the moment of her death pipes and cymbals raising a dirge! What then does Christ? All the rest He cast out, but the parents He brought in; to leave no room for saying that He healed her in any other way. And before her resurrection too, He raises her in His word; saying, The maid is not dead, but sleeps. And in many instances besides He does this. As then on the sea He expels tumult from the mind of the by-standers, at the same time both signifying that it is easy for Him to raise the dead (which same thing He did with respect to Lazarus also, saying, Our friend Lazarus sleeps John 11:11; and also teaching us not to fear death; for that it is not death, but is henceforth become a sleep. Thus, since He Himself was to die, He does in the persons of others prepare His disciples beforehand to be of good courage, and to bear the end meekly. Since in truth, when He had come, death was from that time forward a sleep.
But yet they...
. Since she was unmarried, they were mourning her with flutes used at weddings, which was contrary to the law. Jesus said that she was sleeping, because He was able to resurrect her easily, and so to Him, death was sleep. Do not marvel that they laughed Him to scorn, for by scoffing they bear witness all the more to the miracle that He resurrected one who was truly dead. So that no one could later say that she had only suffered a seizure, it was confessed by all those present that she was dead. ...