Cue the original Star Trek t.v. Series score and voice of Captain Kirk:
“Death: the final fear. Going to places we all must go.”
Every funeral we attend, we are reminded that we will the be the one that is someday dead. Our body will no longer function. That is the reality we all face. And we just call it all by one word: death.
And every funeral I have been to, I have heard the officiant of the said funeral read these words of Jesus from John 11:25, 26:
25 Jesus said to her (Martha), “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
This is Jesus, speaking to a family that is grieving. Martha and Mary had lost a brother. Both of his siblings loved Lazarus deeply. Jesus loved Lazarus. Lazaurus meant a tremendous amount to all that knew him.
What I want to point in this passage that we need to remember is this – Jesus spoke these words of being the resurrection and life, before raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha, whom Jesus is speaking to in this passage does not get that Jesus is saying he is going to raise Lazarus – but instead she thinks and rightly so that Jesus is the Christ and he will raise people on the last day.
Look at her reaction a few verses later:
38 Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “Lord, the smell will be awful! He’s been dead four days.” 40 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” 41 So they removed the stone.
Martha is like, “Don’t remove that stone – it will stink. I mean, it will stink really bad – it has been 4 days!!!”
She did not get it. We don’t get it.
You see Jesus claims “who” He is before we see the results and reality of His power. He offers us – just like He did Martha- a chance to believe in Him to be the resurrection and the life before our deaths.
Yet, we as readers of John hear this promise in light of the two things:
1. Lazarus being raised from the dead.
2. Jesus being raised from the dead.
So we know the ending of the story, and we say, “yes, of course, Jesus can do that – in regards to resurrecting others and Himself” We are like, “That is all in a day’s work for Jesus.”
But Martha – like us – must come to grips with how we will answer the question: Is Jesus really the resurrection and life? And we must answer that question before seeing our own death.
In other words, we are in a strange place. We don’t die first, and are then offered the chance to choose – do you believe or not believe that Jesus is the resurrection and life as you are standing in the actual light of eternity.
Instead, we choose now. Before death. And our choice is based on faith, trust, hope in the person, the love, and the heart of Jesus. We believe in Him before we can fully personally experience His resurrection from the dead working in us to resurrect us or the ones we love.
I have probably belabored my point here, but I want us to know this: the promise of Jesus to be the resurrection and life, comes to use before getting to see that power at work resurrecting us.
Yet, as we face the certainty of death in some amount of days in the future, we have to look Jesus in the eyes and say, “I believe in You and Your power. I believe in it working in my past, the present and in the future and through eternity.”
In other words, we like Martha – have to trust Him because we know that He loves us, He loves about our family, He loves our lives, and He wants us to have a full life here and life for eternity. But we have to take Him at His words knowing that He is for us and not against us.