“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
-Jesus telling a parable (Luke 16:27-31)
Wait, hold up Jesus—you’re telling me if a person literally saw a dead man in front of them, it wouldn’t convince them to change their ways? I mean, that seems pretty extreme and it sounds like it would work pretty well.
At least, that’s the way it seems…
But then if you think about it, people explain away the supernatural all the time now a’ days, just as I’m sure they found a way to do in Jesus’ time. Today we call people psychotic for having visions and try to check them into a mental hospital. We see people healed from an infirmity and so we turn to science and express the power of the brain over the body. We watch the Spirit knock people to the ground and send them into convulsions and we call it a seizure. We see people overcome with emotion and attribute it to a charismatic speaker. We see tons of people experience the same thing at the same place we refer to it as shared psychosis.
There are all kinds of variables when it comes to this stuff. Sometimes it’s God, and sometimes it’s people. Sometimes it’s supernatural and sometimes it’s science. But when the supernatural does happen, you’d be surprised how far we can go to try to disprove it.
I once accompanied a professor to Chicago where he taught a group of people about the power of the Holy Spirit and supernatural gifts. This was the first time I had seen a demon manifest. While at this event, a friend of mine on our ministry team told me about one of his own friends who had turned away from God after having seen all of this kind of stuff. He may have even experienced the Holy Spirit do supernatural things to him in more tangible ways than I had at that point, but for whatever reason, he turned away from God (or at least from the belief in God’s supernatural power and presence). Once you’ve been to the places where that man has been, you have to disprove a lot of your own experiences to disprove God.
Heck, I once saw probably a hundred people get slain in the Spirit in a fire tunnel in Alabama. Not only would I have to disprove my experience of watching that happen, but I’d also have to disprove every one of their own experiences!
I have learned how difficult it is to express the supernatural ways of God to many Christians (let alone nonbelievers). I’ve even learned how difficult it is to express the supernatural ways of God to people while I’ve been asleep, dreaming!
For example, when I was still dating my wife I dreamt that she, like Mary, had been made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. You can imagine that I suffered from a lot of emotion in this dream.
“WHO ON EARTH IS GOING TO BELIEVE THAT!?” I asked God as I could feel my entire life falling apart in the dream. I knew no one would ever believe that it was the Spirit that made her pregnant. They would blame me or someone else. Only she and I would know the truth that God had done a miracle. My parents wouldn’t believe me. My friends wouldn’t believe me. I’d no longer be able to go into ministry because people would think I had sinned and that I was a liar.
Again, this was a dream, but for a brief moment I felt the intense pain that Mary and Joseph must have felt. It was an amazing miracle, but no one believed. And furthermore, my life was greatly affected by it.
The reason this subject is really on my mind right now is because of another dream I had this morning. In it, I had commanded a dead man to come back to life and he did. It was an incredible miracle. He sat up slowly in his casket and looked at me. Only one other person saw it happen. He then got up and we left the building to go around town. It seemed at times that people who knew him saw him alive again and didn’t even think twice about it because they how impossible it was.
But despite this being an amazing miracle, I knew that when people noticed the body was gone I would be accused for being an organ harvester or something since I was the last one by the casket. Somehow my life was at stake for having raised the dead through the power of God. I would be imprisoned and science or logic would prove how the man was never actually dead and that the doctors and morticians who claimed him dead were being sued and fired. I knew there were going to be tests done to make sure that this was the same man who had died and not some kind of double. There would be blood tests taken and dental records matched.
This dream got weird real quick and despite how much of a miracle the dead man and I knew the situation to be, it only looked grim for me. I learned very quick that bringing the dead back to life is a lot more disruptive than you might think. Look at what happened to Jesus after he raised Lazarus from the dead:
So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. (John 11:53-54)
You know, I’ve prayed many prayers trying to convince God that if He just did something supernaturally crazy, people would come to Christ. I’ve heard plenty of stories in which this has happened so when I pray for it, I hope He’ll respond in power. But to my surprise, Jesus has an interesting reply to my request:
“If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
I’m not saying don’t ask for miracles. I am saying, however, that God has many other ways of making Himself known: Moses, the prophets, and even you.
You are buried with Christ and made alive in His resurrection. You are the dead man who was raised again. You can be a walking miracle to others by the power of the Holy Spirit.