Resurrection and Life
When Jesus attends a funeral it may have an unexpected ending! He meets with Mary and Martha who are in the deeply sad grief of loosing their dear brother Lazarus. He comforts them with strong and wonderful words. He is able to use this unexpected death to display his glory.
The glorious gospel is always infinitely valuable, but at the time of the death of a believer it is so very dear. Notice these wonderful words, “I am the resurrection and the life, Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus proclaims his nature and the results of faith in him. He is by nature the resurrection and the life. It’s not even that he can bring the dead back to life, he IS the resurrection. John’s gospel, where this is found, is a book written to display the inherent glory of Jesus Christ. It is the book of the “I am” declarations. Jesus is full of grace and truth, and it is from his fullness that we have received grace upon grace. We are called to faith in him. He is everything he has claimed to be. In him we have all blessings. In him even death itself is swallowed up in victory.
In his proclamation there is a blunt truth that sounds like a riddle. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” It is blunt in saying that believers do die. Sometimes we are overflowing in euphemism to the point it might seem we are living in denial. Jesus wants us to deal with the harsh reality that believers do die. Only one generation of believers will escape this sorrow. The truth is we die. It can be sudden and horribly painful. It can be protracted and from a chronic condition and be horribly difficult. Virtually zero Christian funerals end with an empty casket! (Lazarus’ was extremely unusual!)
Which is it? Will we die or never die? It is both! How? Through faith in Jesus the resurrection and the life we will not die eternally! We do not deny death, but we deny that for the believer it is anything but a transition to everlasting life.
My eldest sister just died completely without warning. She was a wonderful pastor’s wife with thirteen adult children. We all wept, and still are weeping at our great loss. On this earth we will never see Judy again. Her funeral was literally four hours long with an additional two hour viewing at the beginning. It was something I will not forget. It was a perfect balance of love, loss, and open worship! We sang our family hymn. “Praise the savior, ye who know him, who can tell how much we owe him?” The gospel is a strong tower and a sweet shelter in the storm of grief.
If you'd like to read an amazing obituary....here is a link! Judith Karen Spencer
At this Easter season please come to the Savior! All will die. Without Christ there is nothing but a fearful expectation of Judgment. Let us worship with abandon the one who is comfortable being the resurrection and the life.