This Week’s Beacon

Our minister writes a weekly column for our local newspaper, the Roanoke Beacon.  We’ve included the latest edition below.

South African Pastor Alph Lukau experienced a firestorm of criticism after claiming to perform a resurrection on February 24.  In a viral video, Pastor Lukau is shown standing before the casket of a man named “Elliot.” After speaking in tongues, Lukau reaches out to touch the “dead” man.  In the video, Elliot sits straight up, his mouth open, and appears to come back to life.   The video shows the nearby congregation breaking out into a wild celebration.  Lukau later boasted on Facebook that he “speaks the miracle of resurrection.”

Unfortunately for Lukau, the three funeral homes that provided the coffin and other elements of the video are now threatening to sue, claiming they were tricked into getting involved with the scheme; apparently they never saw a dead Elliot. Even Elliot’s family joined in criticizing the stunt, tweeting that the video “just ruined everything” and noting that Elliot had planned to be married in that white suit.  Elliot’s family now facetiously calls him “Resurrection.”

Martin Wesonga, principal of the Bishop Hannington Institute, an Anglican theological college in South Africa, condemned the video, saying, “Any pastor who claims to collect a body from a mortuary and give it life is dramatizing a lie.  I think the pastors are preying on the people’s desperation.  There are a lot of problems in Africa, and the people eager to sort them out fall for these tricks without questioning.  What the pastors tell them is the final word of God. It’s like a cult.” Controversial South African pastor Paseka Mboro also challenged Lukau, saying, “If it’s true you resurrected a dead man, then let’s go to Mandela’s grave to do the same.”

Lukau insists that his video legitimately records a miracle.

One thing is certain: Even if Elliot did come back from the grave, he’ll be going there again.  After all, that was true even for those Jesus brought back to life.  One theological professor said, “I would love to find the tombstone of Lazarus.  It would say something like ‘Here lies Lazarus. Died 29 A.D.  Died 43 A.D.’”  Other than Jesus, each of the 6 people whose resurrections are recorded in Scripture died again. They were brought from the grave through the power of God, but their restoration to life was only temporary. They faced death again.

Jesus didn’t.  That, and the fact that Jesus rises from the grave under His own power, sets Jesus’ resurrection apart from the other resurrections recorded in Scripture.  No one called Jesus from the grave; He rose on his own. And when Jesus left his tomb, he left it for good.

Jesus’ resurrection is a game-changer. Others who came back from the grave continued to experience all the normal limitations of life in an earthly body – hunger, fatigue, sickness, pain, and another death.  Jesus’ resurrection body is different.  He could eat, and consumes a piece of broiled fish in Luke 24:42-43.  But Jesus could also appear and disappear at will, even entering a locked room without using the door (John 20:19).  And in Revelation 1:18 (NIV), Jesus describes Himself as one who will never die again, saying, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

Jesus’ resurrection defeats death for us once and for all. In 1 Corinthians 15:49, the Apostle Paul teaches that our resurrection body will be incorruptible, just like Jesus’.  Paul writes, “just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.  …When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Once I die, I don’t want anyone except Jesus to bring me back to life.  Even if others were successful in reviving me, they would only force me to face more trouble, more pain and more death.  Jesus promises real life, life where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

I want the life only Jesus can give.