A RESURRECTION ON VIDEO?April 5th, 2012
I watched a resurrection, a resurrection on video. One of our viewers is a Pentecostal pastor with whom I’ve had the privilege of studying the Bible. It was my turn to visit his church, and no sooner had we sat down in his small sanctuary than he picked up a video and played it, “You need to see this.”
It was an amazing “documentary-like” report from Africa about a pastor who didn’t survive a car accident. In a series of interviews with the pastor’s wife, the attending physician, and the mortician the story emerges of a wife who refused to quit praying, claiming the scriptural line, “Women received their dead raised to life again” (Hebrews 11:35). In fact three to four days after his death (with the embalming process already begun), this woman drove to the mortuary, convinced the mortician to release her husband’s body to her, coffin and all, so that she might take it to a visiting well-known European evangelist for prayer (truth in advertising—the video was produced by the evangelist). There at the large Christian center, crowded for the noon services, the widow approached two church workers with her plea.
On camera these two men describe what took place that afternoon, as the corpse of the deceased pastor was placed inside one of the church class rooms. The wife was praying, the men were wondering what to do next, when suddenly the dead pastor began to breathe. At this point in the video, clips from either a video or cell phone camera are inserted, and you actually witness the deceased “returning” to life, as it were. Soon word spills out and a crowd gathers around the doors of the class room. With photographs spliced into the continuing interviews, the story climaxes with the full resuscitation of the deceased, who at the end of the video gives his testimony.
Skeptical western biases aside, I’ll confess it a fascinating testimonial. Because irrespective of the veracity of this resurrection, we all readily admit that to witness a human return from the dead (after three or four days and embalming) would be the most spectacular experience we can imagine, television lights or not!
Imagine then the utter shock of the eleven disciples of Christ when the Deceased suddenly appeared in their midst! The four gospel accounts ignore human incredulity with the simple narrative of Jesus’ resurrection, as a matter of fact and history. And over two billion Christians this Easter weekend joyfully assent to those four testimonials, “He is risen!”
And because he is, we cling to the resilient hope and promise of a resurrection yet future. With our lists growing of those we love who sleep in death, may the Christ of the empty tomb revive our faith, ignite our hope, compel our love, and infill our lives. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Amen.