Grace and Peace to you.
As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
— Luke 7.12-15
If we take the gospel seriously it leaves us with a heart-wrenching question: if Jesus could raise the dead once or twice, why didn’t he always? What good is a miracle, even if it leads us to believe, if it’s nothing that’s ever really going to happen again? Why should we believe that he could raise the dead when in fact he won’t?
I don’t know.
But I do know that life is full of mystery, that death is real, and that compassion burns at the heart of all things. I know that death and suffering will not simply disappear. But I also believe that Love encounters us on our way, walks with us on each Via Dolorosa, and interrupts our funeral marches. And that therefore anything can happen. Our dead, even the most dearly missed and needed, even the most unjustly dead, are not likely to revive. But something is. I don’t expect that I ever know what the miracle will be. But I know that it is not impossible.
I’ve done enough funerals as a pastor, shared through enough people’s mourning, and lost my parents and a childhood friend, to know not to expect anything other than the permanence of death and the usual process of loss and grieving. But I also know that I don’t know everything, that Love changes things, that the unexpected can happen, and that new life rises—not in the body of the deceased, but among us nonetheless. Sometimes some weird miracle does happen.
I don’t know why Jesus doesn’t just do more miracles. But for me not knowing leads to openness, not despair. Because I don’t know, I know that anything can happen. Anything.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes