"And he that was dead ... began to speak"
Right in the middle of an exciting episode of the life of Jesus we find these few words. You have probably read right over them, like I have how many times, without giving them a second thought. But, let us consider the import of them.
Picture yourself on the scene. Moreover, picture yourself as the young man being carried out on the bier. You have maybe suffered for some weeks from a horrible disease. You stank terribly as it ate away at your body. Your friends came to visit, and from the looks on their faces you knew it was coming- your death drew nigh. Then you died.
The next thing you know, you are blinking your eyes, and looking up at a strange, compassion-filled face. You are outside of the city walls. You are being carried on a bier. You know full well that you were almost stuffed into a grave, never to walk the earth again. You were almost there. But some man came along and said a power-filled word: "Arise". And you did. And you begin to speak...
Tell me, what would you have said if this had been you?
"Oh, hi there grandpa. That's a pretty tree over there isn't it."
"Uncle Bill, what are you doing here. I was just hoping to get to see you soon. I was wondering how your horses were doing?"
"Hey, aunt Mary, how's the weather been at your place lately?"
"PRAISE GOD, I'M ALIVE FROM THE DEAD!"
"THANK YOU, LORD, FOR SAVING ME FROM THE GRAVE!"
And then go leaping, and praising, and letting the whole world know that a dead man has been brought to life!
When you were born again, if you have been, what did you speak? In the days, and months, and years following your being raised up from the death of your sins and trespasses, when you were almost ready to slip into an eternity of hell (and you knew it), what did you speak of? The weather?
When that great word of grace was spoken, "Arise from your sins", and you looked up into the eyes of the suffering Jesus, knowing it was his death that paid for yours; what songs did you sing? What activities caused a thrill to shoot through your being? Birthday parties? Horse races? Getting a pretty new dress?
It says in the same verse that Jesus "delivered him to his mother". It appears that she may not have been right there at the bier the moment of the resurrection. Can you picture the scene? A distraught widow, supported by relatives on the fringe of the crowd, just having lost her only son. She may have been so overtaken with grief as to not watch what this strange man was doing. But suddenly she hears a familiar voice, "I'm alive!" Her heart leaps. Can it be? And sure enough, her only son, her "dead" son, is now walking and talking! And coming to her! Next, I can see them sitting together on a nearby rock, holding each other close by, the tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy. How long they sat there I do not know, but I imagine it was a good while.
Do you suppose that on his way to see his mother the son wanted to first chat with his friend about today's ballgame a little? Or when he got to his mom he coldly asked what was new? Do you suppose he gave her a formal handshake and thanked her for coming to the funeral?
Sounds foolish doesn't it. A resurrected man speaking and acting like something normal has happened?
No, resurrected men and women have seen the things of this world become SUDDENLY dim. And when they are brought to their mother (the church), formalities are forgotten until another day. The text does not say so, but I can fully imagine it being so, that "his mother began to speak" as well as he.
"Oh, hi Bill. Glad to see you alive again. The drain is plugged on the sink, and I so needed you to fix it..."
"Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed thee."
And so the mother and son, along with Charles Wesley, later stand on her housetop to sing the good news to whosoever will listen.
"And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins ... and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ga. 2:1,6)
You know, it is kind of hard to be quiet after being raised from the dead, isn't it? -Mike Atnip