Raising Dead People: A Tutorial

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“But after four days of non-stop prayer and a lot of shofar blowing and prayer walking the morgue seven times, our friend never got up. He was as dead as dead is.”

By Danielle Strickland | Twitter: @djstrickland

I know people who raise dead people. It’s crazy. Or is it?

They regularly see people die and then get prayed for and they rise from the dead. I don’t imagine it should surprise those of us who follow Jesus–actually more to the point, it should be expected.

I’ve tried it. Raising dead people. It’s crazy and hard. I think mostly because in our current North American culture we really don’t ever deal with death. We say goodbye in a hospital bed, a sanitized goodbye with maybe some tears, maybe some suffering. Then the body is wheeled out–people take it away to a sanitized morgue where it awaits again, some more sanitizing. The deadness is drained out and makeup and a nice suit replace the emptiness as the body is prepared for viewing. As though dressing up death makes the whole thing go away. We don’t see the dead again until the viewing (if there is one).

How to Raise the Dead

Anyway, years ago, a bunch of our community started watching these DVDs of a guy who taught people how to raise the dead. It was fascinating. All of us were convinced we didn’t see dead people raised, because we never really had access to dead people, as I explained above. In our community at the time, there was a man who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. We were praying hard for his healing, but he succumbed to his disease. Because he was part of the group of people who had watched these videos and prayed that God would help us to at least try to raise our expectations of what He could do–he decided to make his body available to our community for four days after his death (in his will).

I’m not kidding. This really happened.

So, we all dug deep and held some non-stop vigil prayer, asking God to raise him from the dead as a witness to His power in the community where we worked. As we announced our plans, every crazy intercessor with a shofar came out of the woodwork and we started to worship and to pray–mostly all the scriptures where people were raised from the dead.

Expecting the Miraculous

We tried to raise our game and also leave room for the will of God. A tricky business–expecting the miraculous and leaving room for God. We put his name down to preach at his own “life celebration” we were planning–which would have been the coolest preach ever. But after four days of non-stop prayer and a lot of shofar blowing and prayer walking the morgue seven times, our friend never got up. He was as dead as dead is. Probably more dead. He was definitely NOT mostly dead! He was more dead than I had ever seen anyone before.

The good news is that the guy who teaches the videos said that it wasn’t until he prayed for the seventh dead guy, that it worked. It took perseverance and a whole lot of humility. And I started to resonate with the idea of humility and perseverance that day–in a different way.

See, when you make an announcement like the one we made, it does something. It makes you look like a freak. It makes people uncomfortable. It makes people reject you and make fun of you because, well, you are a bit of freak (if “freak” is defined as “not normal.”)

You are leaving the normal trajectory for some other kind of way to live. And this way to live–with expectations of a dead-raising God to show up in a normal humdrum life is scary and hard, and a bit crazy actually. It was Kierkegaard who suggested that to believe God is basically to lose your mind. He may be on to something.

But, on the other hand–-how much of what God wants to do can be done by people who are willing to risk their reputations and their pride and their egos to believe, and to ask, and to try? If you ever have a chance to read the dead-raising passages in Scripture you can start to get the feeling of how uncomfortable it ALWAYS was. Elijah lay body to body over a DEAD young person three different times … I’m not sure if I have ONE of those prophetic acts in me–but it sure worked and not only changed the life of the person who is no longer dead, but of the community, as well as the atmosphere of the town, village and the nation of Israel.

The other reason we don’t like raising dead people, is the same reason we don’t like healing lepers: We hate death. We are scared of death. And this is the thing I want to get to today because, well, it’s resurrection day as I’m writing this and I’m reminded that we are no longer slaves to death. We live in the light of Jesus’ confrontation with death–and Jesus won. See, Jesus didn’t just come back from the dead (people had already done that!) but Jesus went through death and came out the other side. He conquered death. He didn’t just come back to life–he was RESSURECTED to a forever, eternal life. He was Jesus–but He was different.

Living in the Light of the Resurrection

And what does this mean? It means that we used to be trapped in a death tunnel and there was no way out. It means that death had the final word and hopeless is where we had to live. But NOW, we are no longer captives to a hopeless future–we are always living in the light of the resurrection. Which means that all the ugliness, the deformity, the awkwardness of death is no longer our chief concern. It means that our grief, albeit real, is not absolute. It’s not forever. It means we can believe for God to do things that are abnormal and crazy and, well, we can choose to be eternal freaks and never go for normal again. Everything has changed.

In Narnia, C.S. Lewis suggested that when Aslan broke the curse of death, time itself began to work backwards. The idea he is suggesting is an awesome one: working our way back to the way things were always intended to be. Remember in the garden where death wasn’t present–wasn’t even mentioned? Those are the days we are looking toward now. The resurrection has set our sites at the big hole blown in the tunnel of death and we walk towards the light–towards a better world and a better future.

So, find some dead people. Or some lepers. And instead of joining the death crowd in fear and awkwardness, and well, sanitized living–let’s opt for some faith ventures of epic proportions. Raise some dead people today. What a great way to celebrate the resurrection.

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About Danielle
Danielle serves Jesus as the Corps Officer of Crossroads Community in Edmonton, Canada. Her passion is social justice, including establishing human trafficking response teams in local situations and giving leadership to the global team for the Stop The Traffik campaign. Danielle speaks and teaches around the world and has written several books: Just Imagine: the social justice agenda, Challenging Evil and The Liberating Truth: How Jesus Empowers Women. Danielle is married and has two sons.

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