268. Power to raise the dead.
"Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?"* ( Acts 26:8) Speaking in his defense before Agrippa, against all the accusations of the Jews, Paul stated that the hope of resurrection is the *bedrock* (core belief) of the Jewish faith. (But Jewish sects like the Sadducees, didn't believe in the resurrection - Acts 23:8 ) At a time when little was known about God and Scriptures were not yet written, Abraham believed that God could raise the dead, and this knowledge qualified him to be called the "father of faith" *'He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed - the God who gives life to the dead, and calls things that are not as though they were.'* ( Romans 4:17) And when Abraham's obedience was tested, it was his faith that God could raise the dead, which emboldened him to offer Issac as a sacrifice. *'By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Issac as a sacrifice'* because he *'reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Issac back from death.'* (Hebrews 11:17-19) We too have come to believe that God has the power to raise the dead because we believe in the glorious resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But even before his death and resurrection, the power of the resurrection was the *hallmark* (distinctive mark) of his ministry. Infact, the raising of Lazarus from the dead was the *highpoint* (most significant part, pinnacle ) of his ministry because more people believed him after he raised Lazarus from the dead. *'Therefore many of the Jews who had ... seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.'* ( John 11:45) *'Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him.'* ( John 12:18) Not only did he raise the dead, but also commissioned his disciples to do the same! *"As you go preach this message: 'The kingdom of God is near'. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons."* (Matthew 10:7-8) Not only did the Apostles raise the dead but also *'taught the people and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.'*(Acts 4:2) The resurrection of the dead was part of the *'elementary teachings about Christ'.* (Hebrews 6:1-2) Jesus too had taught about the bodily resurrection of all the dead - of both the good and the bad! *"For a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."* (John 5:28-29) This is what probably Martha recalled when she said, *"I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."* But Jesus said to her, *"I am the resurrection and Ife. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever Iives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"* (John 11:24-26) Amen.