This morning as I listened to a preacher on Christian radio, he was telling again the story of Lazarus’ death. He mentioned Mary and Martha, pointing out that each one asked Jesus the same question when they first saw Him: Lord, if you had been here Lazarus would not have died! I’m interested that both women asked the same thing in the same words, given their very different personalities. Probably they have both mentioned this thought to each other as they wandered around the house for the past 4 days. Maybe they were muttering it as they went about the chores and activities that were necessary, even for newly bereaved women. “Lord, if only You had been here….”
It occurred to me that most of you probably have asked a question very much like that: Lord, You could have prevented her death! I believe that, your word teaches me that. So why didn’t You prevent it???
The reason Jesus gives the women is this: “I AM the resurrection and the life.” And then He proved it is so by bringing their brother back to life from out of death. In raising Lazarus, He proves He has the power and right to do this. It is not a direct answer to their question, but that’s how Jesus often moves the discussion from what a seeker asks to what He wants us to know. If you are asking, keep your eyes and ears open to how He responds.
What does “He is resurrection and life” mean that to you now? And whatever it means, is it comforting to you now? I think what it means is that even facing death, Jesus IS Life – for the grieving survivors; and He is resurrection for the one who died. For the one who has died, resurrection means coming into the actual presence of the Living God who has designed us for relationship with Him. We are allowed into this presence through Jesus’ right standing before this Holy God. So your loved one, who believed in Jesus, is now with Jesus, living the life she was always meant to live. For her, life is now just like it’s supposed to be.
For the grieving survivors, the life part is more subtle. I believe it means we can live through the hard, heavy days of grief, because He is Life. I believe it means His presence gives us Life when otherwise, we can find no reason to go on. I believe it means His guiding hand leads those bereaved ones who follow Him, to a new pasture (to use the psalm writer’s image of sheep following their shepherd) which is safe, comfortable and bountiful with things necessary for Life. He can and wants to lead you through valleys and shadows to a new normal Life. And since He is Life, he is leading you closer to Himself, where He can comfort you all the better. Be comforted and comfortable as a sheep is with its Shepherd who protects and provides its needs.
(thoughts from John 11 and Psalm 23)