(First, on an unrelated note, I just got my copy of Alan Roxburgh's Missional Map-making, have you read it? Let me know what you think.)
The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is a powerful one and it is difficult for us on many levels.
First, it is hard to imagine such a dramatic miracle. It is just hard for us to get our heads around it.
“What did it look like?” we want to ask. Did Lazarus look like a mummy when he walked out?
Our minds can come up with all kinds of questions to imagine the scene. And the truth is, these questions can distract us from the real message that Jesus promises “Is for God’s glory.”
Then there is the whole crisis of life and death which the story reminds us of. How often have your prayed or thought like Martha and Mary,
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother/sister/ spouse/child/friend, would not have died.”?
We pray, we ask and yet we all die. Some of get a long life and some lives are cut too short.
And when someone we love dies, we weep and we cry out to God.
From this snapshot of Jesus’ feelings, we know that God hurts with us, just as Jesus wept for his friend.
Life and Death go hand in hand. It is our ULTIMATE reality.
Yet the key point for us today is found in Martha’s confession of faith. Jesus tells her,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” AND THEN HE ASKS, “Do you believe this?”
Whew, how imposing; a direct question from the Lord about what she believes, and it falls on our ears as a question of faith, “Do you believe?” . . . How do we answer this?
Martha answered, “YES, Lord, I believe that YOU ARE THE MESSIAH,
-Notice she doesn’t talk about her brother here.
-She doesn’t go back to her assertion about what Jesus could have done had he arrived earlier.
-She doesn’t quiz Jesus about what he means by “the resurrection and the life”
or how does that “never die” work?
What she does is to STATE HER FAITH,
“I believe Lord, that YOU ARE the MESSIAH.”
…the promised one, the Son of God”.
Here in the crisis of deep grief, she is able to say what she believes. Her confession of faith (as we call it) shows us her TRUST.
It is a trust for living and for dying.
DEEP and ABIDING TRUST, is the message we take from this incredible miracle story today.
Because if we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then we can face death without fear.
We don’t have to understand everything that Jesus meant by “resurrection and life”. We don’t have to know all the specifics of what “Never die” means, or how it looks, or even whether it means,
The moment we die
Or sometime later
Or at the very end of all time.
Because IF WE BELIEVE in WHO Jesus us, then we live trusting in the ONE who sent him.
And IF we can face death, with complete trust in the One who ‘holds us in Divine hands’, then
WE CAN FACE LIFE, each and every day of LIFE with trust.
THIS is a TRUST that says; “Yes, Lord, I believe” so I can look at each day as if it is my last and be content to live that day trusting in YOU.
THIS TRUST that says, “Yes, Lord, I believe” so I can risk of telling someone else about this Messiah in whom I trust.
WHEN WE trust and live each day with confidence, we are able to hear God’s voice and go where God calls, even when its SCARY, because our hope is in ONE who lived OUR LIFE and faced torture and even death.
Our Lord offers us HIS HOPE and the sure knowledge that trusting in him, will be enough.
ENOUGH, it IS enough to trust, for now, for each day, AND for whatever comes tomorrow.
“Do YOU believe this?”