It doesn’t require the performance of some religious ritual or spiritual exercise to move our minds and hearts toward the idea of resurrection. It can happen in situations that are not overtly spiritual at all. It might pop up, for instance, while watching the climactic scene from a Disney movie. We could be watching the beauty, Belle, confessing her love for the newly deceased creature with way too many teeth, affectionately known as “the Beast,” or maybe it’s Rapunzel weeping magical tears over the corpse of her beloved Eugene, “Flynn Ryder” Fitzherbert, or a similar scene from one of many other fictional tales, but in every case, we heartily embrace the notion that death shouldn’t be allowed to win. Resurrection seems eminently reasonable to us in these fictional situations, and is quite easily accomplished. All it takes is the redirection of some misappropriated magic here or there, or maybe reversing an evil witch’s spell, or it could be the result of injecting the transformational impact of a sister’s love into someone’s stone cold heart. We welcome resurrection in situations like that as the grandest and most exhilarating reversal of hopeless circumstances, and we’re thankful that we were smart enough to think of it.
Resurrection as a concept that reintroduces itself every year as winter begins to release its icy grip on much of our nation’s landscape and our church calendars alert us to the approach of another Easter sunrise. Whether the topic has deep personal meaning for us or not, most of us at least tend to ponder whether resurrection is real or just another fantasy we dream up to counter our end-of-life fears and offset despair.
A More Personal Question ~
There is an answer to the question of whether human beings who die will live again, but it’s not to be found in dusty ancient documents or the sanitized laboratories of molecular biologists. God unveiled its definition and demonstrated its astounding power in the flesh and blood of the one human being unique from all the rest of us. In Jesus Christ, life and death converged in an epic battle that delivered the final verdict and settled the resurrection question forever. But while Easter’s response to Calvary’s indictment establishes that resurrection is real and that it is available, it doesn’t tell us who gets it and who doesn’t — and for us, that is the question upon which our eternal security hangs. Thankfully, Jesus answered that question in the context of one of the most spectacular demonstrations of His divine authority.
As His destined appointment with the cross drew nearer, opposition by the religious hierarchy centered in Jerusalem had escalated into open hostility. To avoid a climactic engagement prior to Passover, He retreated to an area across the Jordan River safely removed from their immediate proximity. While there, He received a brief but clear message from a family He loved, “He whom you love is sick.” (John 11:3b NKJV). The underlying request was that He should come to his aid, but instead of engaging in a hasty departure, Jesus said,
This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. (John 11:4 NKJV)
Then He proceeded to wait two more days before announcing that Lazarus was sleeping and that He was going to return in order to wake him up. (John 11:11b). The disciples were obviously confused about Jesus intent, because He elaborated by declaring plainly that Lazarus was dead.
By the time they arrived back at Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and entombed for four days, and it would appear to even His most devoted followers that all they had to offer the family was the Lord’s personal affection and the comfort of loving friends. Death had not only won the battle in Lazarus’ case, it was reinforced by time and physical decomposition. He was too late. Lazarus’ disappointed sisters each expressed the same reaction,
Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:21, 32 NKJV)
Jesus’ response to Martha moved the discussion from healing the cause of his death to reversing the power of it. When Jesus said to Martha, Your brother will rise again (John 11:23 NKJV), His response may have been comforting, but it didn’t fall under the banner of “Breaking News” for her. She responded by saying, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24 NKJV). What Jesus said next brought the concept of the resurrection into an astonishing new focus.
More than an Idea ~
Like Martha, most of us consider the resurrection to be an event that’s sort of out there somewhere. It’s like the idea of heaven, a wonderful promise to be fulfilled at some point in the “sweet by and by” and that has little relevance here and now. Jesus challenged her with a statement that would totally rearrange her thinking.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26 NKJV)
He moved the question of resurrection out of the realm of academic religious doctrine. The resurrection was not just an idea. It was a living human being standing in front of her. The power to strip death of its victory was present and touchable.
Shortly after that, against their protests about the smell, Jesus had them move the stone away from the tomb and shouted out three simple words, “Lazarus, come forth.” And as Lazarus walked out of that tomb, their understanding of the reality of resurrection and the source of its power was changed forever. The dead can rise again and there is hope beyond the grave — and the One who owned that hope walked among them.
Resurrection is real and death can be overcome, but there are conditions. Eternal life isn’t for those who deserve it — nobody deserves it. It isn’t for those who earn it — it’s not for sale. It’s for all who will believe that Jesus died for them and rose again. Resurrection, like everything else of eternal value that we have, is “in Him.” The key question for us is the one Jesus asked Martha, Do you believe this? (John 11:26b NKJV)
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly back to this article through Twitter.
- “There is an answer to the question of whether human beings who die will live again, but it’s is not to be found in dusty ancient documents or the sanitized laboratories of molecular biologists.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The resurrection was not just an idea. It was a living human being standing in front of Martha. The power to strip death of its victory was present and touchable. @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “As Lazarus walked out of that tomb, their understanding of the reality of resurrection and the source of its power was changed forever. The dead can rise again and there is hope beyond the grave — the One who owned that hope walked among them.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Resurrection, like everything else of eternal value that we have, is “in Him.” The key question for us is the one Jesus asked Martha . . . “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26b NKJV)” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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