I’ve seen a surprising amount of criticism directed at Bethel Church for their decision to petition Jesus for the resurrection of a dead baby girl. One prominent minister calling it a “charade,” (It’s hard to understand how it could be a charade since that term implies deception.) others criticizing the prayer campaign as being embarrassing or unbiblical. But how would Jesus respond?
Jesus and the Widow’s Son
Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.Luke 7:11-17 (ESV)
Notice the heart of Jesus here. He saw the grief of the woman and His heart was moved with compassion. He approached her and said “do not weep”. Jesus is compassionate. His heart is moved for the grieving.
Jesus ruined every funeral He ever attended, including His own. We see Him constantly raising people from the dead and healing the sick through the gospels. But He didn’t just do that himself, He commissioned His disciples to do the same.
Jesus Commissioned His Disciples to Raise the Dead
And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without payMatthew 10:7-8 (ESV)
Though, we don’t have an account of His disciples raising the dead in the Gospels, it’s implied that they did. (Luke 10:17.) This imperative from Jesus was similarly extended to all that would follow Jesus after His resurrection.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
Jesus commanded His disciples to teach everyone they would disciple from there on out to obey everything He had taught them to do. That includes His command to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and demonstrate its power through the healing of the sick and the raising of the dead.
We see the evidence within scripture that this authority was not limited to the 12 apostles in Acts 6, where Stephen, a mere deacon, was seen performing signs and wonders in the streets of Jerusalem. (Acts 6:8.) We also see Philip doing the same in Samaria. (Acts 8:6.)
Raising the dead was not limited to the work of apostles. It is something that even modern believers can pray for with confidence.
Modern Day Resurrections
Well-known theologian, Dr. Craig Keener PhD, professor of biblical studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, and author of author of 28 books, including IVP’s Bible Background Commentary, wrote in his scholarly two volume work, Miracles, an account of the resurrection of his own sister-in-law.
When Thérèse was about two years old, Mme Jacques, as my mother-in-law is locally known, stepped out briefly to take food to a neighbor. When she returned, Thérèse was crying that she had been bitten by a snake, so Mme Jacques began strapping the child to her back so she could run to evangelist “Coco” Ngoma Moïse. She quickly discovered, however, that the child had stopped breathing.
Medical assistance was not available; once she reached Coco Moïse, [a three hour journey] they could only pray. They prayed and the child began breathing; then the called Papa Jacques., who was at the time working in another town. […] Today she is doing church work and recently completed her graduate-level seminary training in Cameroon. So far as humanly detectable to these persons who knew firsthand the signs of death, a child who did not breathe for three hours recovered without medical treatment, without brain damage, and without ill effects. Again, six minutes without air normally produces irreparable brain damage.Keener, Craig S. Miracles, pp. 557-558, Baker Academic, 2011
In addition to hearing testimonies of resurrections from around the world from such ministries as Iris Global, Heidi and Rolland Baker’s missions network, headquartered in Pemba, Mozambique, and classical accounts from the likes of Smith Wigglesworth, I have a close friend and former overseer in ministry who has personally raised a man who had died of a heart attack in a post office. Resurrection of the dead is not something that stopped in the scriptures and there is not a shred of scripture that you could produce to contradict that statement.
How Would Jesus React?
When blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by on His way out of Jericho, he began to scream and shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The poor man was rebuked by those around him for making suck a uproar, but Jesus heard him and healed him.
Jesus gave us the parable of the persistent widow in order to teach us to pray boldly and persistently. (Luke 18:1-8.) I think Jesus appreciates faith and courage in prayer. He never berated anyone who came to Him expecting a miracle. In fact He marveled at the unbelief of those who refused to come to Him for healing. (Mark 6:6.) I wonder how Jesus would respond to disciples of His who would criticize and mock those who would dare to ask Him for a miracle?
My sister is intimately involved with Bethel church. She has seen firsthand the grief and the faith of the family who has tragically lost their little girl. If the Lord is angry with anyone, I doubt it is with those who are praying consistent with the demonstrated character and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. I would also doubt that He is particularly pleased with those who are determined to criticize and mock those who are simply asking Him for a miracle.
If you have found yourself criticizing Bethel and the Heiligenthal family for praying boldly, please stop and repent. Let’s begin to believe God for better things. Let’s have boldness to ask for things that stretch us. Let’s pray with persistence like He taught us, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.”
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lcD-rxfaphg" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>