Raising the Dead
As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
Jesus’ instructions to those he sent out to proclaim his gospel were very simple. Go and proclaim the gospel. You have received freely, so give freely. Travel with the minimum necessary. Don’t be fussy about accommodation. If people welcome you, bless them. If people don’t welcome you, just walk away. I don’t know what evangelists who live in multi-million dollar mansions and travel by private jet make of these instructions, but never mind them. We have better things to talk about. Like raising the dead.
In John 14;12, we find Jesus telling his apostles that the one who believes in him would also do the works that he did; in fact would do greater works that he did. We know the things that Jesus did. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, the dumb talk, the lame walk. He multiplied fish and loaves, he walked on water, he calmed the storm. And he brought the dead back to life. When he says those who believe would do what he did, that implies they would also bring the dead back to life. And if he didn’t say it explicitly there, he is saying it here: raise the dead!
But he says we will do even greater things than raising the dead. What can that be? Let me give you a clue. He raised Lazarus from the dead, right? But what happened to him? Poor chap died again. He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead? But what happened to her? Same thing. She too died again. So what’s greater than raising somebody from the dead? You said it: bringing them to eternal life where they will never die again.
Let me tell you a story. It might take me over my usual limit, but I think it will be worth it. This happened years ago on one of my very first missions. I was in Canada and a lady came to me after I had preached a retreat saying her husband was at home sick. He had a severe problem with his throat and the doctors couldn’t figure out what it was. He hadn’t eaten in a month; for the past week he hadn’t been able to drink water either. He had to be fed water from a teaspoon. Would I come and pray with him.
I went over the next morning. The man was sitting on a couch looking very weak and very frail as you can expect of somebody who had not eaten in a month. Sitting across from him were his two daughters. One was an atheist, kinda like I had been, not been inside a church in twenty years. Sitting next to her was her young sister. After some small talk, their mother asked if I would pray over her husband. I asked her, “Why? Do you believe I can heal him?” In all simplicity she said, “Yes.”
I shook my head and said I was sorry; I had no power to heal anybody. All I could do was pray to the one who had the power, and if I could do that so could anybody. I told the younger sister to go over to her father, put her hand on his head and pray to our Father, asking him to heal her dad. She first thought I was joking but when she realized I was serious she did what I told her to. She put her hand on her father’s head and prayed. Five minutes later I went to the kitchen, got a glass of water and gave it to this man.
And this man, who had to be fed water from a teaspoon took it and drank if all down; the next day he started eating, and a week later he was in full health. That was a great miracle, yes? But that is not the only miracle that took place in the house that day. The elder daughter, who had not been inside a church in twenty years started going the following day, bought a Bible and read it cover to cover in three weeks, and two months later flew all the way from Canada to India to make a retreat there. That was the greater miracle. That is what we are all called to do.
So go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven is here.” And may miracles follow you as you go.