March 21st 2009

Resurrection Now!

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
John 11:23-27 NIV

The context here is the raising of Lazarus. Try to read all of it in John 11:1-46.

So many ideas come to mind when you read this account. How Jesus wept and entered into the grief of those around him even though he knew there was hope for Lazarus, how Thomas said he was willing to die with Christ, how even the dead hear the voice of the Son of God, to name but a few.

The section above is particularly compelling. It is telling us that the spiritual power of the resurrection is for us now, not just in the future. Martha responds to Jesus with what would have been stock comments of the times. It is like, when at a funeral, we may comfort someone by pointing to the future resurrection of the dead. But Jesus, instead of stressing the future, asks her whether she realizes that he is right now “the resurrection and the life”.

Her reply to his “do you believe this?” seems evasive, albeit unintentionally so. Maybe she does not understand. She refers to prophecy about the Messiah just as she had pointed to the last day. It is not clear whether she understood what Jesus was saying. Her thoughts are time and event linked. But the resurrecting and life-giving presence of Christ is not constrained by time and events – that is what Jesus is telling her.

Perhaps we too can view things prophetically just as Martha did. Of course there is the resurrection at the last day, but as Paul says in Colossians, from a spiritual perspective believers were dead in sin and now have been made “alive with Christ” (2:13). We have been “raised with Christ” through faith (3:1). Just as we die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31), so we rise daily with Jesus to the newness of His resurrected life.

For us Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, both now and in the future.

Great Father, thank you that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Help those words to comfort all who hear them, and help me personally to witness to the fact that now, spiritually, I am raised with Christ to newness of life.

Study by James Henderson

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