Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Elisha: The life-giving grave

The men did not hear the alarm at first. It was drowned out by the clang of shovels, the sounds of digging and their own exertion. But the growing commotion quickly made one fact unmistakable: the Moabites were coming!

This was not the first raiding party —they came every spring— and experience quickly overcame fear. There was no time now to dig this man his own grave. It would have to wait. But someone objected, “We can't just leave him out here.” “Well, throw him in there.” “But that's Elisha's grave!” “Why don't we...” “There's no time!”

And so it was that the poor man's body was unceremoniously dumped onto Elisha's bones. Instantly, the dead man revived. He stood up, looked around, and climbed up out of the grave.

This little event is tucked into just two verses, but its brevity belies its significance. Just a few people were raised from the dead in the Old Testament. The widow of Zeraphath's son was raised by the prophet Elijah and the Shunammite woman's son was later brought back to life by Elisha. The only other instance of resurrection in the Old Testament is in this bizarre little story. The nameless man in 2 Kings 13 was raised by Elisha too, but in a way unlike any other miracle recorded for us in the Bible. It is by sharing Elisha's grave, by being united with Elisha in death, that he is restored to life.

Jesus' death is a life-giving death. His grave is a life-giving grave. Paul writes: “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” When we become Christians, Christ's death becomes our death and His life has become our life. When we are united with Him, we can rise with him and leave the grave behind.

(2 Kings 13:20–21; Romans 6:5)

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