“And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.” 2 Kings 13:21
I love how this outrageous claim is tucked away between matter-of-fact records of the kings of Israel. My eyes almost skim right over it, as though instantaneous bodily resurrection were rather ho-hum. But there’s nothing ordinary about it. Can you imagine the confusion of this moment?
I think of the burial crew waiting for the marauders to pass by, finally emerging to finish the job. Instead, their dead friend is sitting there, waiting for them, perhaps with a touch of indignation that they so rudely cast him aside at the slightest hint of trouble.
It’s maddening that we get so few other specifics. Who was the dead man? Was his family there? Did they know they were tossing him into Elisha’s grave? But these seem to be irrelevant details. It doesn’t matter whether the dead man was worthy of resurrection, or even if anyone wanted him to come back to life. It’s more of an accidental-miracle, one that seems to highlight the unstoppable, even inevitable, nature of resurrection power more than anything else.
The Hebrew word chayah, here translated revived, appears in several other instances of miraculous healing, but I see it most frequently in the Psalms and prophets. Revive us, O Lord. Revive us in your ways. Revive us according to your Word. What does it mean to ask God to revive my soul?
I think of the dry-as-bones corners of my soul, the places long-dead through woundedness and sin. And then I realize my awareness only scratches the surface. My need goes so deep I can’t even name it. Which is why this single-verse story in 2 Kings gives me hope. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Perhaps my earnestness and the details of my deadness are actually irrelevant. The central thing seems to be the dynamic, surprising resurrection power of God himself.
Jesus teaches us that he has come so that we might have abundant life. In fact, abundant life is not just his desire, it is who he is. Jesus is life. He is the living Word. When dead things encounter Jesus, they spring to life, whether they will or no.
Revive us according to your Word, O Lord, and stand us up in the abundance of your life.