Sunday Night Musing: Resurrection
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26, NIV)
This was the last of the "I am" statements of Jesus that we've looked at during church during Lent (and today's culmination of Lent with Resurrection Sunday).
It's not a typical statement. Most of Jesus' other "I am" statements were metaphorical ("I am the bread of life," "I am the light of the world," "I am the vine"). This one isn't. It's a statement of fact. Well, either you believe it's fact, or that Jesus was just a crazy man.
The fact that we celebrate His own resurrection 2000 years later convinces me that He wasn't crazy.
He spoke these words to Martha. Yes, that Martha. The one who was busy with all the housework and food preparation while Jesus was visiting her home. The one who was indignant for her sister for sitting and listening to Jesus rather than helping out.
Martha and Mary's brother, Lazarus, was dead. They had sent messages to Jesus telling Him that Lazarus was sick, but Jesus took His time in returning to their home. He does this on purpose. He could get there in time and save Lazarus. But Jesus believes God wants to use this moment for His glory.
A couple of centuries ago and more it was common practice to bury corpses with a fail safe. Medical knowledge hadn't gotten to a point where there was certainty in death. It wasn't unheard of for a dead body to turn out not to be dead. So strings were placed in the coffin attached to bells above ground so that if the person turned out to be alive, they could make themselves known.
Lazarus had already been dead for four days. There was an odor in the tomb. He was dead. Martha was upset, yet hopeful when Jesus arrives. Martha has come to know who Jesus is. She understands the power He has. She believes He is the Son of God.
Jesus confirms that His power extends over life and death. He proves this by bringing Lazarus back to life.
Lazarus, however, will still face death some day. He won't live forever.
Jesus, Himself, will provide eternal life. His death changed eternity. The grave no longer had power. Hell no longer had power. Love won. It still wins.
Easter is huge. (Sidenote: I dislike using the word "Easter." It is a meaningless word. We often use the name "Resurrection Sunday" for this day. But while Christmastide lasts for 12 days, Easter lasts for 50. Eastertide is the common name for the next several weeks. Paschaltide is also used, but not as common, unfortunately.) It's bigger than Christmas--theologically, at least.
For much of our culture, today is about candy and other gifts in baskets left by a rabbit. But it's so much more. It's about love and life and the ever after.
My tendency, though, is to make Jesus' statement to Martha about the future. Yes, I believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life, so that means I won't go to Hell when I die.
And while this is true--that my hope is now in Heaven--it's also not the whole picture. I believe it has to have relevance for the here and now.
I still have places of death in my life. I may not be fully aware of what they all are, but they're there. But they don't have to be. Jesus can bring life to those places. Each day I can live with a resurrection attitude--seeking to live life to the fullest, seeking to be a new creation renewed and transformed by the Holy Spirit.
I confess that I'm not great at doing this always. But Jesus offers it to me nonetheless.
He is not dead. He is risen! Alleluia! Love has won.