Raising the Dead Ain’t Easy

I once tried to raise a man from the dead.

Michael was a kind, handsome, earnest, married believer in his 30s, with two lovely daughters. We had been fasting and praying for his inoperable brain tumor to dissolve. Gathered around his bed, calling on God and worshiping, we longed with all our hearts for our friend to live and not die.

Then he stopped breathing. His skin began turning an ashen gray. The room became very quiet. No one wanted to accept our friend’s departure. On the inside I began wrestling with a desperate thought. “Should I try to raise my friend from death? Yeshua told His disciples to raise the dead. Why shouldn’t I at least try. What’s there to lose?

Milliseconds later I decided to take the radical step. Not knowing how to go about it, I remembered the biblical accounts of Elijah and Elisha stretching themselves out on dead children. So, I climbed onto my friend’s body and blew into his mouth. I blew hard, three times, but nothing happened. He was still dead.

Resurrection is God’s Business

What was my takeaway from the experience? Resurrection is God’s business. It was crystal clear as I climbed down off him, broken and dejected, that unless God shows up there’s no use trying to raise the dead.

“…We should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9)

The empty tomb of Yeshua is a turning point in all human history. Being God in the flesh and conquering sin while subjected to every temptation we face (Hebrews 4:15), the Messiah swallowed death for us all (Hebrews 2:9). His victory over the grave signals a reversal of the curse pronounced on Adam in the Garden. Through Jesus, mankind can now overcome death itself.

That is why He is called “the first fruits of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20), a reference to the Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10). Occurring on the day after the Shabbat of Passover week, this was the very day of Yeshua’s resurrection – Resurrection Sunday as many of us know it.

The Ultimate Hope

Death is forcing its way into our daily awareness – through pandemic, war, and terrorism. Thus, the promise of one’s own resurrection from the grave becomes more and more relevant. Life is finite. I will die. I don’t know when or how, but it is inevitable. Is there life after death? As a child raised by humanists, I was told that when you die that’s it, kaput!

Paul the Apostle and the Prophet Isaiah both proclaimed that death is swallowed up in victory (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:54). But perhaps the ultimate statement, and the solid rock upon which our confidence of eternal life rests, comes from Yeshua himself. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

I didn’t bring Michael back to life. I longed to do so. More importantly, though, he IS alive on the other side of the grave. It sure will be good to see him.

This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, May 2022, and reposted with permission.