(based on II Kings 4:29-36)
Fine grain. Smooth touch. Fragrant cedar smell. Gehazi ran his hands along the expertly crafted rod. Excellent piece of wood. Shaped just like a shepherd's staff. Strong, upright, and splinter-free.
Then again, maybe not.
Grrr, this blasted piece of wood! He'd break it in a hundred pieces if he could!
With this staff he, Gehazi, should have been able to do the same miracles that Moses did with his staff when he parted the Red Sea for Pharaoh. By touching it to the dead boy's face, he should have been able to bring him back to life.
But no. It didn't do anything. It was useless. Totally useless!
How could you do this to me, Moses? You set the example, you gave me this authority to heal, and - and nothing!
Why didn't it work?
Useless, useless, useless! Elisha's servant grumbled inwardly. Everything is vanity. I do everything by the book, just like he asks me to, and I end up with zip, nada, nothing.
This staff is supposed to symbolize your Word, God - your authority, given to me, the believer, to do great signs and wonders. To heal the sick, to cast out demons, to raise the dead. What, if anything, am I doing wrong?
He threw the staff into a corner of the room and sat down on a stool to pout. And to ponder. And to remember. How did Elisha perform the miracle again? He dove into his memory banks and reran the video.
Shot 1: Elisha opens the door. He shuts it. He prays to God.
Good idea, thought Gehazi. When in doubt, pray. Ask God to reveal His will in the situation.
Shot 2: Elisha approaches the corpse.
Another good idea, thought Gehazi. Elisha approaches the - what? Wait a minute! He's not actually going to touch the dead body, is he? Isn't that's what the staff's for - to put a ten-foot-pole distance between yourself and the - brrr - unclean thing? Let the dead bury their own dead. Not that undertakers didn't handle cadavers all the time, but they weren't quite human anyway.
Yet here was Elisha, the prophet of God, daring to touching a - blech! Gehazi felt cold chills run throughout his body at the very idea.
But if he wanted an answer, he must dig deeper. Even if it meant - no, he couldn't face it. But yes. He must face it. Like anything else in life. Or death. And anyway, a dead body was nothing more than a rotting lump of raw flesh. It couldn't really hurt you. Just make you temporarily unclean, that was all.
Gehazi tried to picture himself reaching out a hand to touch the corpse. To feel the cold skin. The cold nose. The cold eyes. The cold mouth. Closer, closer... Nope. Couldn't do it.
But there was Elisha - think of it! - living, breathing, double-portion-of-the-Holy-Spirit Elisha, laying all of himself - his very life - upon the boy. Doing what it would kill most people to do. Having intimate contact with a cadaver. Eye to eye. Nose to nose. Hand to hand. Mouth to mouth.
Mouth to mouth? Yuck!
Who would think of doing such a thing, of making himself unclean to give another person life? Absolutely unthinkable. Absurd. Unimaginable. But that's exactly what Elisha did.
And it worked! The boy's body grew warm. Amazing!
But that wasn't all. There was more.
Shot 3. Elisha paces the floor. Back and forth throughout the house, like a father waiting for news of his baby's birth. Watching. Waiting. Doing more praying. Listening to whatever God was saying to him.
Watching, waiting, and praying. The worst part was over. But that didn't mean it was finished. The grand finale still remained.
Shot 4. Elisha stretches himself upon the boy a second time.
And then it comes.
Not one, not two, not three. Seven.
Seven amazing, wonderful sneezes.
The boy opens his eyes and stands to his feet. Not sick, not contagious, not dangerous in any way. Perfectly whole and healthy.
They say that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Notice that it doesn't say "one work" as in a one-time shot, but implies multiple works until the job is done. For the greatest miracles in life require everything we have to give. And then some.
But that's what Jesus did for us. He completely gave of himself by "laying on top of" our dead bodies, thus exchanging his life for our deadness. While were dead in our trespasses and sins, He, the way the truth and the life, died on a cross to atone for our sin. He "became sin for us" so that by rubbing up against His life, we might come alive again!
When His life meets our death, resurrection power is the result.
He did everything necessary to warm up the body. After that, there are three things we can do:
Shot 1. Be the messenger that "lays the staff" on them, proclaiming gospel truth in the authority of Christ.
Shot 2. Pace the floor in prayer, watching and waiting, as the disciples did on the day of Pentecost.
Shot 3. Lay down our own lives for the person who is dead in sin.
Shot 4. Watch for the sneeze - a sign that he or she has come to life. Then present the child to all our friends alive, rejoicing in a prodigal come home.
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