Saturday, April 15, 2017

John 11:23-27 -- On the Resurrection and the Life

"Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."
John 11:23-27

This is part of the story of Lazarus, who Christ raised from the dead.  It's a tough story, and this I imagine it was a tough conversation to have, because death and time get in the way, and part of what is said is immediate and direct, and some of it is more abstract and symbolic.  Martha likely did not fully understand what Jesus was about to do, because she objects later when Christ asks that the tomb be opened.  She remarks that the body will have started rotting and smelling by this time.  She clearly believed that Jesus was the Christ, but she thought he was giving her comfort and talking about Lazarus rising in the resurrection.  I don't think that I would have understood either.  Clearly, much of what Christ is saying here is about eternal life after death, not immediate immortality.

I think the most telling idea here is not actually about Lazarus, or about physical or spiritual death, but the statement that Jesus Christ *is* the resurrection and the life.   That he has power over these things, that he grants them to us.  The raising of Lazarus shows us Christ's power, and his later death and resurrection confirms and magnifies it, showing that he has utterly conquered death and hell, and that neither of those things can have any hold on us, if we believe in and follow him.

That idea is huge--that Christ is the resurrection and the life, and that he has control over life and death.  It's usually part of what we just assume about God, but when we think of it on a more personal level, I think it is easier to see more clearly that our lives here are gifts from God, and that we don't have to be afraid of death, for that too will be a gift in its time, nor do we have to be afraid of life and wish for death, because God is in charge, and all of this seeming craziness and chaos actually makes sense and fits together in the Lord's eyes, and will work out in the end.  There is a reason for us each to be here, and many things for us to do before we are called home.  God loves each of us just as much as he loved Martha and her brother... and whether he brings us back to life physically or spiritually, God gives all of us another chance and another start... often many of them.

Today, let's be grateful for our lives and for the future that God promises us through Christ's power over both physical and spiritual life and death, that we have a chance now to repent and be born again spiritually, to be healed and helped on our way, and someday also to be resurrected physically and have eternal life.

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