Written by Pat Harley
Based on John 11:1-44
We are in the midst of a pandemic. Around the world as of this morning, there have been over 200,000 deaths from the Coronavirus. It makes no difference if one is rich, powerful, poor, or even destitute. The virus is no respecter of persons and makes no differentiation between social classes or bank accounts. At present, no weapon, no medication or vaccine can take it down. It is a ruthless enemy. And behind every one of those deaths is a home where loved ones are grieving, their lives changed forever.
Two thousand years ago, there was another home with a family who was grieving deeply. The two sisters knew there was a cure for the disease their brother was suffering from, yet they were unable to procure it. And so as days went by, they simply had to sit by helplessly and watch their brother, whom they loved dearly, slowly slip away unto death.
It was enormous sorrow – certainly sorrow over their great loss, yet that sorrow was intensified, because the cure was none other than the One they had accepted as the Messiah, and He was their dearest friend. They had witnessed His power. They had heard amazing stories from reliable witnesses about healings from disease, from demon possession, and paralysis. It had been His very words that had raised the young man in Naim, raised him right out of a coffin. They had heard about the leper whose body had been completely healed and cleansed. The disciples had told them about the calming of the storm and the feeding of the five thousand. And yes, they had believed every one of those stories. They had believed without a doubt that Jesus was the Christ, sent from God, and the Son of God.
They had enjoyed His company and friendship, but they had never needed His power until now. And so, as Lazarus lay suffering, the sisters cried out to Jesus through an anguished message. “Behold, he whom you love is sick.” And then they waited, knowing surely He would come at once. But Jesus did not come. The hours of suffering continued as life gradually slipped away. And then … Lazarus was dead. Anguish, Loss, Confusion, Doubt. No more chances for healing; all hope was gone.
And so, the sisters wrapped Lazarus’ body in strips of cloth layered with the accustomed spices. Some of the men then carried his body to the family tomb, laid it on a cold stone slab, and rolled the stone across the opening. Done. The end.
Almost a week went by. No word came from Jesus. Then after six days, Martha heard that He was coming to Bethany and their home. She went to Him immediately and spoke the words that had plagued her for days. “Lord if You had been here my brother would not have died.” But clinging to the last bit of faith, she continued, “Even now I know whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
And Jesus responded, “Your brother will rise again.” But Martha continued, seeking perhaps answers, perhaps an explanation, most likely seeking HOPE.
“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
And then Jesus spoke words of comfort, assurance, joy, TRUTH. Words so important for us today as we are surrounded with sorrow and grief and fear death.
“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE: HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME LIVES EVEN IF HE DIES.”
Within the next few hours, Jesus would once again show His awesome power, and yet in a way he had never done before. Mourners once again gathered at Lazarus’ tomb along with the sisters. Jesus, even as Martha objected, asked that the stone be rolled away. And then Jesus spoke, no commanded. “Lazarus come forth.” And in a moment, death was replaced with life, mourning with joy, and doubt with robust faith, for death had been conquered and Lazarus was alive.
The Resurrection and the Life Are For Us
As I sat under the awning, reserved for family members at my mother’s grave during the funeral, the casket resting just above the open grave, I was overcome with sorrow and loss. I had prayed for healing for Mom. I had prayed that she would walk again and enjoy life for a few more years. That prayer was not answered. But then as I looked upon the opened grave that was before me, the Lord brought to mind those same words He had spoken to a sorrowful sister some two thousand years ago. Only this time my name was inserted into the sentence. “Pat, I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME SHALL LIVE EVEN IF HE DIES.”
And then I envisioned Mom, not with limbs twisted from debilitating disease, but whole and joyful and free of pain and suffering. It was a glorious picture but one that was real because Momma KNEW Jesus. And at that moment she was more alive than she had ever been, never to face death again. She was with her Savior and there was LIFE. And for me those words brought immense comfort, abundant comfort for such a sorrowful heart.
At Easter, we celebrate the empty tomb. It is an awesome reminder that he has indeed overcome death and for those of us who believe, death truly will be swallowed up, and we will be fully alive, fully healed, and fully at home with the One who gives life to enjoy Him forever.
The Savior Is Calling
The Savior IS calling to all of us, not just during a terrifying pandemic, but every day. Come to Me. I AM the resurrection and the life…even if you die you will live.