Photo: Priscilla Du Preez
Author: Joy York
“Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.” 2 Kings 13:21.
It’s a bit like Forrest Gump, because that’s all they have to say about that. There are times when I am reading the bible and I come across something like this. Things that make me say, what? It’s like watching the first 20 minutes of Law and Order and not watching the ending. You know it wasn’t the obvious suspect (it’s never the one you think 20 minutes in) there are still surprises and evidence to find. So many questions…
Did the man coming to life scare away the raiders? I am guessing he did because someone lived to tell the story. Did he come to life restored or look a bit zombie like? Did people start throwing dead people on Elisha’s bones after that hoping for a repeat? What is the significance of this story? I find it interesting that this man coming back to life isn’t even credited with a name: Yet another mystery.
This was never on the flannel storyboard in my Sunday school that I can recall. I think it would have been a fun story though. We could have played with the skeleton and the man coming back to life and the robbers running away. But I think we (at least me) tend to shy away from the stories that don’t tie up neatly. We don’t necessarily want to live within that tension of not knowing- probably because there is already so much not knowing. We want our bible stories, our tv shows, our novels and movies to wrap up with us temporarily having that omniscient feel. Yes I thought she was the murderer the whole time. I knew the good guys would win. Make me laugh, make me cry, but then please give me a resolution.
But then again, perhaps I am being a bit dense. Our whole story as Christians is about life coming from death. This might just be a bit of foreshadowing. God’s representative even in death brings a man to life. So there is still the unresolved, the mystery of details and questions, but the overall theme replaces the fear of the unknown with another reminder of miraculous intervention. Now that’s a resolution.