Minutes With Messiah Logo

It's A Miracle

by Tim O'Hearn

The following story may be apocryphal, but considering the preacher I heard it about, it may be true. A faith healer came to San Diego and drew large crowds. One preacher went to observe. When he saw the types of healing being done, he challenged the healer. He invited him to a certain address, which happened to be one of the cemeteries in town. When the faith healer showed up, he pointed to a recent grave and challenged the man to raise its occupant from the dead. The healer tried his standard response, “I can’t do it because there are disbelievers here. I need complete faith.” The preacher responded that before Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8) the people laughed at him. Jesus didn’t require everyone around to believe. The healer admitted he could not do it (but would not deny his ability to heal sickness), and soon left town.

When we think of miracles, we often think that raising the dead would be the ultimate example. And it probably is. After all, doctors can heal sick people. Vintners turn water to wine every day, just not instantly. While we don't yet have control over the weather, we would only think that moderately cool (or hot, depending on who has control of the thermostat). But raising someone from the dead; that would be amazing. And yet we sit in church and sometimes watch people being raised from the dead and hardly bat an eye. The relatives may take pictures and the congregation clap when it is all done, but many seem to consider the miracle on a par with watching paint dry.

That miracle is baptism. There are, admittedly, many that don’t consider the true miracle of baptism because they think of it as a sign that the person has already been raised from the dead. They say you can’t see the real miracle, so you have to have someone reenact it later.

Immersion as portrayed in the Bible is a miracle of resurrection. Of course, to raise someone from the dead they have to already be dead. Otherwise it’s not really the same thing. So what if you raised someone from the almost dead. No big deal. But we are (or were) truly dead. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph 2:1) Sin is death. It was ever thus from the beginning. “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen 2:17) Adam and Eve began to die physically when they sinned, but they had already died spiritually.

If we are “not merely dead” but “most sincerely dead”, as the Munchkin coroner declares, then it would be a miracle to make us alive. If sin is what makes us dead, then removal of sin makes us alive. And that is what we have in immersion. “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins.” (Acts 22:16)

Paul writes about resurrection primarily in two places. In 1 Cor 15 he writes mostly about the physical resurrection. In Romans 6 he writes about the resurrection through immersion.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

This is indeed a miracle! One who was dead is now alive. They were buried and then resurrected, just as Jesus was. What could be a greater miracle?

It may not be advisable to jump up and whoop and holler when witnessing a baptism, but it might not be improper. When people observed the miracles of Jesus, many of them shouted; some fell on their faces in silent worship. Nobody was unmoved. If we are unmoved when witnessing the miracle of resurrection, maybe we are forgetting what it felt like on the day we experienced it. The miracle of baptism at least deserves praising God. He has just raised somebody from the dead!