“If He raised the dead…”

If anyone has ever been forced to read Flannery O’Connor’s works for a class, then they’ve probably read “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” And though I thought from the title it might be a witty commentary on the modern way of dating, I was sadly disappointed to find out that  it mean a good man in general is hard to find…or woman.

Anyway, I’ll spare you the grisly details. The story really only has one interesting point or two in my mind, and that one is where the villain of the story, “The Misfit” discusses God with the grandmother, either our protagonist, victim, or other villain, depending on how you look at it. The Misfit declares that there is no way of knowing if Jesus really performed all the miracles he did, but that the most crucial one to know of would be if He indeed raised the dead. If he did, the Misfit thinks, then he was who he said He was. If he didn’t…then not.

The grandmother is unsure what to say, finding out that in the moment of danger it can be hard to actually believe what you’ve been in the habit of believing.

Jesus raising the dead is probably one of the hardest miracles for people to believe in. It’s the one that pushes our concept of what could be possible just a little too far.

Actually the Misfit is off if he thinks just that was proof. Some of the prophets also raised the dead, and later it is thought that Paul did the same, and Peter did it too.

And I’ve heard stories of it even in our modern time. Though it’s surprising how many people would be skeptical just because of that, who wouldn’t be of the Bible stories. We think that because it’s written down it’s far away, and somehow less spectacular.

Jesus raising the dead can be a weird story anyway, he did it no less than three times at least. Not counting after the crucifixion. One time, most famously, it was Lazarus; another time it was a man  Jairus’es daughter, and the third time it was the son of a widow. The last two times it was pretty straightforward but the Lazarus story is bizarre. Jesus purposely delays going to see him so that he cab perform the miracle to show his disciples that death has no power over Him. Yet with Jairus’es daughter he purposely makes sure not that many people are there to see.

Jesus mourns for Lazarus and his sisters’ grief even though he knows what is coming. Showing he does not minimize our pain, and that’s important, since we all know more people die than come back from the dead.

I think people are chary of this notion also because the culture has made an occult and zombie driven ritual of raising the dead. It’s easy to forget that those things are cheap imitations. I look at any power trick evil has as simply imitating something good.

This doesn’t answer he question of whether he did it or not. And to answer that,  and the corresponding criticism that religious people will believe anything, I would simply say that skeptics will believe anything in order to doubt.

If on can accept the other miracles Jesus did, then one has to accept that he raised the dead. It’s as simple as that. It’s all or none with God,, no half baked faith.

It’s funny that the Misfit imagines he’d want to believe any more if he’d been there, to those who have an open heart, all miracles are wonders, and to those who don’t every miracle is but a terror. We’ve probably all felt that panic at something totally unknown and strange to us, usually it lasts only a few moments till we get a reasonable explanation worked out, but a miracle is hard to dot hat with.

God’s miracles are things you have to get used to, but you can, most people don’t know that it’s possible.

Why though, is the Resurrection of the Dead so important to us, and to Christ, enough to make a statement of it?

There’s an idea that’s been going around for a long time that we should accept death as  a part of life. The phrase is kind of a self aware oxymoron. But it’s a part of several religions, and people can find it comforting to look at death as normal. We hate to feel like we’re particularly unlucky in experiencing loss.

But, The Bible would actually encourage people not to accept death, if it were taken at it’s word.

not only does it not ever tell us to just accept it and move on, but it deliberately makes a point of saying God is Lord even over death, and that he will overthrow it. Even the psalms are full of references to resurrection. We are told that event hose who die fro God are merely “sleeping” (which by the way, is I believe where the habit of calling it “at rest” came from.) In fact Jesus calls death sleep in at least two f the cases where he raises the dead, Lazarus and the girl.

This seems like denial…until they start to rise, and the Bible never gives us any indication that they were anything but normal. Jesus himself acts the same after he is raised from the dead…only cheerier perhaps now that the ordeal is over. We know that they ate. What we don’t know is how they felt about it.

We do know, from later scriptures that raising people from the dead is not the same as being given our new heavenly bodies. These people still have to eat and drink. They still walk the earth. It’s more of a returning to the norm, then it is becoming new.

That said, since becoming a new man is the whole point of Christianity, is raising the dead even necessary to the faith? Many would say no, because they don’t really believe it, or think it doesn’t effect them.

And hopefully I haven’t lost those of you who don’t believe this at all. Though I think I would have a long time ago if I were to.

But as I said, Jesus made a point of knowing us that death isn’t really so powerful. I think there are many reasons, one is that He doesn’t want us to fear it, another is that signs and wonders are part of serving him, still another is simply compassion.

What I wonder is why some people got a second chance at life. They probably didn’t need it to go to heaven, so why come back? It seems like it’s more for their loved ones. I really can’t answer that, I don’t know enough.

For now, I think I’ll just conclude with the thought that Raising the Dead is one of he pillars of the faith for a reason. Maybe we should all think about what that means to us.

Until next time–Natasha.

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