Martha was very much like us. Or maybe it’s the other way ‘round. We are so much like Martha. Her brother had died. The family had sent for Jesus, hoping, I’m sure, that Jesus would heal Lazarus as He had done for so many others.
But Jesus didn’t come.
And Lazarus died.
When Jesus did arrive, Martha and Jesus had a conversation.
“If you would have only been here…but I still believe God will give you whatever you ask.” (Hint, hint.)
“Your brother will rise again,” said Jesus.
Martha must have thought He was only trying to comfort her with the hope of something in the future.
“Yes, I believe we will all be resurrected someday,” declare Martha. For many generations, the people of Israel had believed in a future resurrection, a life after this earthly one.
But Jesus pushed it further.
“I am the resurrection and the life,” He said. “Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Do you believe me?”
I can imagine Martha giving Jesus a blank stare. Why would He doubt she believed there would be resurrection? She had always believed that. But what did He mean when He said He was the resurrection?
“Yes, yes, yes. I have always believed everything you say.”
And yet, when they visited the tomb together and Jesus asked for it to be opened, Martha protested. “The stink will be horrible.”
When Jesus replies to Martha’s protests, I hear Him saying to me, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see God’s glory?”
Before the new body, resurrection must come. (Or maybe they come in the same instant. We’ll see, eventually.) Resurrection is a bringing back to life. It is not the spirit that is revived, but the body. Resurrection is a very physical thing.
I fear we have much in common with Martha. We say we believe in resurrection, but we talk much more about “eternal life” than we do about our bodies being raised from the dead and changed into immortal bodies…that is resurrection, just as Jesus was brought back from the dead and once again walked this earth in His body.
How can I believe that there will be a resurrection and dead bodies will come back to life?
Because Jesus said He will do it, and He said it is the will of God.
“And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)
Jesus came to make and be the way for people to have an eternal life. His sacrificial death made it possible.
But if the story ends with His sacrificial death, what hope is there for us?
The story didn’t end there.
In the book of John, we hear Jesus saying again and again that He came to give life. He said it straight out, without symbolism and parables. I imagine He wanted to make sure everyone heard it. He was the life-giving Bread from heaven. Anyone believing on Him would be eating of this Bread that gave endless life.
Yet…would you have understood and believed what He was saying?
Would I have believed this man when He claimed to have power to give me a life that lasts forever?
We know about death to all men. That’s what our experience knows.
But with Christ, a new thing began. Now our hope knows about resurrection.
Resurrection showed the power of God.
The power to make new.
The power to break the curse of death.
Death came into the world through one man, but the “resurrection from the dead has begun through another man” (1 Corinthians 15:21).
Resurrection sent the message: “This is a new day.”
It’s God’s plan. It’s the will of God. All who see his Son and believe in Him…will see the glory of God at work in their dead-but-raised-to-life bodies.
“All who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (1 Corinthians 15:23).
Ah…when He comes back.
He is, you know. Coming back.
Believe, and you’ll see the glory of God. In so many things. In your new body. And in our King, coming back to earth.
And if we believe Him, that hope changes everything, doesn’t it?
I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.