I’ve just finished reading the Gospels last week as part of my search for the Good Life. (here) In these books, Jesus raises three people from the dead. I found these instances very interesting. I have this idea that we are raised from the dead when we become Christians.
Bringing the Dead to Life
First, he brought a young girl to life. (Mark 5.) He comes to shore, and the little girl’s father tells him she is dying and begs for Jesus’ help. Without another thought, Jesus goes to her. Whatever else he was going to do was set aside. This single young girl was his focus. He arrives and tells everyone she’s asleep. (v. 39) The crowd laughs at him, and he tells them to leave. (v. 40) Then he goes, takes her hand, and brings her to life. (v. 41).
These introductory statements are important. He is likely moved by compassion for the father’s loss. Jesus is often moved by the plight of the people he encounters. Our Father feels our loss when we’ve wandered off into suffering.
He dismisses the people who would laugh and doubt what he can do. Remember when he couldn’t do many miracles in his hometown because the people lacked faith. (Matthew 13:58, Mark 6:5) This has to be why he told them to leave. If he was to do something as extraordinary as bringing a daughter back from the dead, there must be faith. The girl’s father has enough faith; he sought Jesus so that he’d heal her.
“Talitha Koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” (Mark 5:41 NLT.) Jesus heals this girl with just his words. He brings her to life. She gets up and begins walking around. Everyone was amazed. (v.42)
After such a miracle has occurred in their midst, he takes care of her. He tells them to give her something to eat. This is important, he reminds those around her of her most basic needs. He does not forget that she is human and has been ill then dead. He takes care of her ever in the midst of a miracle.
In another instance, he comes across a funeral for a widow’s son in Luke 7. This child was her only son, and Jesus felt compassion for her in her pain. He went to the casket and touched it. (v. 14) Again, he says, “I tell you, get up.” (Luke 7:14 NLT) The boy lived and began to talk. (v. 15) The writer then says, “And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (v. 15)
Jesus brings this man back from the dead in response to the mother’s pain. His own mother would later feel pain as she witnessed his death. In response, he does not come down from the cross. Instead, he gives her to his disciple so that the disciple will care for her. (John 19:25-27)
I wonder if Mary knew this when she agreed to serve God and bear Jesus into the world. She risked everything, including her marriage to Joseph, when she said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1:38 NLT) I wonder if she knew what would become of the Messiah in his death when she agreed.
In having children, we find joy in the birth of the child. We celebrate when tiny humans are born into this terrible, beautiful world; we don’t think of the danger that shadows us all until we leave it. We can’t consider that they will leave this world before us. When it happens, it is the ultimate pain. Jesus brought relief to these parents in a way that only he could.
Finally, John chapter 11 tells of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. He receives the news that Lazarus, his “dear friend” is ill. (v. 3) After a few days, Jesus decides to return so that he can “go and wake him up.” (v. 11) When he arrives, Martha meets him on the road and tells him Lazarus had died.
She says to him, “if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (v. 21) Notice that Lazarus has gone from Jesus’ dear friend to Martha’s brother. She feels his loss dearly. Mary tells Jesus the same thing in short order. Then they take him to the tomb, and Jesus’ heart breaks. He weeps there. (v. 35)
Jesus’ weeping is a deep sadness, a quiet weeping from deep within. It is different from the wailing and loudness that seems to accompany the funerals of the time. The word is Dakruro (1145) in the original Greek which is a silent crying. Jesus’ heart was broken.
Then he goes to the tomb, and the stone is rolled away. Lazarus was dead for four days. (v. 39) Jesus tells him to come out, and out comes Lazarus, bound in his grave clothes. To this, Jesus says, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (v. 44) And many believed that day.
Miracles Happen Everyday
After all this, when Jesus is gone, and Paul was converted, he says, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11 NLT.
Before we know Jesus, we are dead. I think it’s more like we’re destined for death. In life, we’re just asleep like the little girl and Lazarus. I believe Jesus is on his way, and we don’t even know it because we’re lost as they were.
Paul says, “the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (v. 2) So, our sin is what trips us up and blinds us, like Lazarus’ grave clothes. We’re so used to it that we don’t notice it. Plus, everyone else is wearing them too, which makes it absolutely normal.
Before we know Jesus, we walk and talk like everyone else. We do the things that they do. We don’t know that we’re walking around in a vague haze of what it feels like to be fully alive.
This hazy and not-quite is the same experience that I had in my abuse. There’s this version of love that draws us in. It looks like love that we see in movies and TV shows. It feels exciting and new. It feels like what we think those TV people must be feeling. Until it’s painful and damaging, and we must escape. We don’t know it’s only a vague representation of love until it’s too late.
This sinful nature that Paul talks about leads us further into pain and death. We do what causes us pain, sometimes without realizing that it will. Jesus sees us lying there, wanting something more, and wishing to be freed from pain and suffering. Isn’t that what we all want?
Jesus knows life, pain, death, and resurrection better than anyone else. He experienced them all to the fullest. When he rose, he was in the grave two nights, not four. He was not returned to his mother and father in joy; he was set for heaven. When he rose, he was not tangled up and blinded by grave clothes because he never belonged to the grave. When he arose, he arose in the victory of the ages.
Paul tells us we are permitted to take part in Jesus’ victory. “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory.” (v. 17)
So, every day we are seeing and living miracles that we take as ordinary, everyday things. We see people accept Jesus’ redeeming grace and God’s mercy as a regular thing. We see people go to church and pray for forgiveness, and it’s normal to us. We witness changed lives and renewed hope. We watch people get rescued from the depths of hell by a hair’s breadth, and we keep going. Each of these is a modern-day miracle.
I wonder what these people who had been brought back to life said to people they encountered later. I wonder if they’re like me – thanking God every day for the breath in my lungs and the ability to keep walking. I know he saved my life more than once. I know I walked away and came back – not just anyone will extend mercy a second time around.
I wonder if they feel like walking talking miracles. Do you? I do. I tell my story because it amazes me that he could pull me from the clutches of the evil one. Not just once, or even twice, but over and over. I’ve been rescued. Not just rescued but “together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” (v.17)
This month I’m thinking about the renewal and restoration of things. Because Jesus rose up from the grave – I can too. What would I make new if I could? Where do I find hope? What makes life worth living? According to Paul, I am brought back to life, rising up from the ashes of a broken life that pulled me into suffering and walking into real life that Jesus gives. I’d call that a miracle. What about you?
Have you ever thought of it this way? What if you have been raised from the dead, does it change how you look at your everyday life? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.
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