I am the Resurrection and the Life

John 11: 17-44

I have read the story of Lazarus’s resurrection many times, but have never thought about it in terms of my own resurrection and life everlasting. Jesus made a choice to wait four days to show the world his purpose here and resurrection so that those who believe might have life everlasting through forgiveness of our sins.

Jesus arrives in Bethany where Lazarus has died four days ago. Mary and Martha are in mourning for their brother. When they hear that Jesus has arrived in Bethany, Martha quickly goes to meet him while Mary chooses to stay behind at the house. I know there is significance here, about how the death impacts these two women, I can see that everyone responds to death and grieving in different ways. Martha is angry as scripture soon shares, but Mary sees no reason to go ahead to Jesus and point fingers since her brother is gone and continues to mourn in her home. It is a reminder that people all grieve differently and feel the loss of loved ones from their lives in different ways.

Martha arrives to meet Jesus in what I read as upset and even angry with Jesus for not coming sooner, and tells Jesus that Lazarus would not have died had he come sooner. Yet, she believes that even now Jesus can bring Lazarus back to them. Martha has tremendous faith. This faith is one that I can quickly read over, but her belief in the resurrection of her brother is real and she is not afraid to utter the words to Jesus. Jesus responds to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha agrees that he will one day rise again in the last days, and Jesus then responds to her once again with, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me , though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believe in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Martha responds that she believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Once again Jesus is reminding not just Martha and those with her but the world that life everlasting only comes from him. He wants to hear the words from Martha and she has no hesitation in her belief even as she mourns her brother’s death. She stands strong in her faith.

Martha returned to her sister and to tells her that Jesus was asking for her, so Mary leaves and goes to meet Jesus. She arrives and falls before Him saying as her sister that if Jesus had been here Lazarus would be alive. Mary comes to Jesus not with anger but with grief. When Jesus saw her weeping he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. The emotions of Mary move something inside of Jesus.

Mary takes Jesus to the tomb. Jesus wept. This one line in scripture is short yet powerful. Jesus wept for Lazarus for Mary and Martha, and for the world. Maybe Jesus is even weeping for himself because he knows what is about to happen in order to bring Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and me into his kingdom. Then Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. He asks his Father aloud so that others could see and believe, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus does not need to speak to his Father aloud, but he does, so that the world would see his example and the image of resurrection about the happen.

Lazarus walks out of his tomb just as Christ would soon rise from the dead and walk from his tomb to cleanse us of our sins. Such a bold move by God. Such a sacrifice of both God and Christ just to bring me into the family. I want to rise from my grave like Lazarus! I want to walk the streets of gold made for me. I want live with my Father and Christ one day!

I revisited the resurrection of Lazarus recently at a funeral. At first I found it odd for this passage to be chosen, but as the funeral continued and the story was told again in this setting, I could see how important it was to send hope to others that through Christ and Christ alone can we be saved. Lazarus was only saved by Jesus and I can only be saved by Jesus as well. What a beautiful message as we said goodbye to a beautiful young woman. She will Rise. I will Rise. Amen

#Redemption

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If you were following the NCAA tournament you could not have missed the redemption tour message from the Carolina Tarheel Basketball Team.  After the final game with the Redemption tour was complete, I started thinking about what the word redemption means.  What did it really mean to those twelve young men playing basketball.  Redemption is defined in two ways  the action of regaining or gaining possession of something or clearing a debt and the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.  Both apply to this years National Champions, but how does it apply to our lives?

During the Lent season, many Christians have turned their hearts toward Jesus and his sacrifice and humiliation to provide “the way” to our Father and everlasting life.  Hebrews 9:12 defines Christ’s redemption of us, ” he entered once and for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”  As I focus on discipline and sacrifice during Lent,  I compare my life to the redemption tour.  I reflect on the ups and downs of my life -both the joy and sin.  I see my failures and the hurt this causes those I love and most importantly Christ, yet in the end I know my debt is paid and I have been saved by Christ and one day I will live with him in heaven.

One part of the redemption definition focuses on being saved from sin.  This Easter season we remember the sacrifice that God made by providing his only son, Jesus, as a living sacrifice in order that our sin might be washed clean.  1 John 4:19, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”   With Christ partitioning for me before the throne, my sins are not forgotten but heaped upon Christ in order that I might be presented as a bride in her white gown.  Much like the team that has made numerous mistakes and their coach graciously and humbly accepted as his fault in order to put forth a complete team the next time they hit the court.  This sacrifice brought them to glory and a National Championship.  I long for my championship and my home in heaven with Christ.

The redemption definition also includes regaining or gaining possession of something or clearing a debt.  Christ as clearly paid our debt with his blood, his redemption for us.  We are reminded in Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” By paying this debt he has allowed me to gain possession of a heavenly home with him one day, my championship. As the Tarheels watched the clock tick down to zero, they could feel their redemption for all that had been lost in the last championship game, but this loss had now been regained.  Just as we were once lost we now are found in Christ, our shepherd, so that we might gain his glory through his redemption for us.  This gift is defined in Romans 3:24, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”.

Closing Verse:  “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7

Challenge:  Have you stopped to discipline yourself and reflect on the sacrifice of Christ this Lent season.  As Holy Week comes to an end turn your focus to Christ’s gift of salvation through the cross.

Please share if so lead.