Thoughts as we head into Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection) Sunday
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “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?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:21-27)
It was a dark day in Martha’s life. Her beloved brother, Lazarus, had died and had now been in the grave for over three days, four to be exact. To add to her anxiety and pain, Jesus, in whom she had placed much hope, had been absent for her brother’s death and had not been there to console her. He had come after the fact. He had healed so many, but now there was no healing her brother. Lazarus was dead. Lazarus had died and after four days would remain dead according to the Jewish understanding of death Four days in a tomb under the hot Judean sun would only hasten his decay and erode what hope she held out. There could be no healing now.
Finally, Jesus returns. And in her tearful words, one almost detects a word of criticism, “… if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus’ reply seems religious and spiritual (“Your brother will rise again…”) but impractical. Assuming Jesus spoke of the final resurrection of the dead at the end of time, Martha affirmed His observation. Sounding spiritual, herself, she says, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Martha thought Jesus was speaking of the resurrection referred to in the book of Daniel. But Jesus had other plans. Maybe in her moment of grief, she lost sight of Jesus and who she knew Him to be. We do this all the time during times of hardship and pain. We sense God is far off and things are out of control. The truth is, the Lord is always near; moreover, He is always in control. As fragile human beings, we do not see the proverbial forest for the trees. If we listen and pay attention, God will remind us. He will remind us by and through His Spirit, His Word, or His actions (providential or miraculous) that He is God, He is sovereign, He is here, and He is near. We must always cling to what is true. We must never forget, even if we cannot see it at the moment, that all things truly, truly work together for good to those who love God, those who are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28) and those who have faith---who have placed their hope---in Jesus Christ. His is a hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5: 5). Mary was about to experience this first hand. Jesus’ words are telling and what He ultimately does, exceeds her wildest expectations. The resurrection of Lazarus foreshadows the glory of what is to come.
Jesus said to her, “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?”She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:25-27)
Jesus reminds her of what is real. That He is the resurrection and the life. Thinking more clearly, she affirms her belief, faith, and trust in her affirmation or confession of faith: “She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world (John 11:27).” In short order she experiences the fruit of a hope that does not disappoint. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-45).
What’s this got to do with Easter? This event in her life foreshadowed the greatest even in history. Often, the confirmation of our faith precedes the trying of it. In short order He is arrested, brutally tortured, and murdered, leading some to comment “He saved others but did not save Himself.” His disciples are scattered, crushed, confounded and disappointed. Jesus, as part of His Father’s larger redemptive plan, is crucified, dead, and buried. His disciples are scattered and in hiding, some wondering if their hope in Him was unwarranted. That’s “Good Friday.” Some would consider it “Bad Friday.” Calling it Good Friday is counterintuitive, yes---but apt. Why? Because He who knew no sin became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. What? The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. We know all of us have sinned. Like sheep, we went astray, and God laid on Him to penalty, the punishment of us all. That’s why He’s called Savior. Just as their hope would not be disappointed, neither is ours. Jesus rose from the grave on Easter Sunday demonstrating His power to deliver. He demonstrated His power to deliver on His promises. He demonstrated His power to deliver us from sin, death, and hell—if we trust in Him. “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 (John 11:25-26)?”
Sometimes hope seems crushed. Often things are darkest right before the dawn. Hope in Jesus, trusting in Christ, is a hope that will not disappoint. I’m sure when Jesus died on the cross Martha was once again devastated by a sense of hopelessness. And upon encountering the resurrected Christ was able to trust Jesus in a wider sense than she could have conceived of. This Easter weekend, starting with Good Friday, we celebrate not only the passion of the Christ but the certainty of a hope that does not disappoint—indicated by the fact of His ressurection.
As sure as He was crucified, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for those who trust in Him. This life is short and eternity is long. And our joy involves seeing beyond this life and into the next. Jesus has done for us what we could not (and would not) do for ourselves. He’spaid the debt we couldn’t pay, stood in the breach we created between His Father and us, and offered us a home with Him for all eternity. One day, He will wipe away every tear. All we have to do is trust in Him. His message to us and to Martha (and Mary) is that one day all this will make sense, viewed through the lens of eternity, through the lens of the Gospel, and a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. One day…
I don’t know what hardships you are facing. I don’t know what suffering you’re having to endure. But Jesus offers hope, healing, and redemption as a gift. Take it. And in Him and through Him you will be able to make sense of it all as His first disciples did and like all His true disciples do now. One day. Come to worship with us this weekend to understand why things are the ways things are and how wonderful things will be, one day. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). This Easter Weekend, find the answers to all your questions, find hope, help, and healing for your soul through salvation in Christ. Experience a peace that surpasses human comprehension, as you turn to the Savior, as you surrender your past, your present, and your future---your rights to Jesus Christ and look forward to an eternity with Him, in heaven, ONE DAY.