April 05, 2017

The Resurrection and the Life

John 11:20-32

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

—  John 11:25

When Jesus finally made his way to Bethany, Martha greeted him with an accusation: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus then promised that Lazarus would rise again. And Martha said, in effect, “Yes, we know—someday.”

As Jews, Martha and Mary believed that someday God would bring about a resurrection of the dead, but that probably seemed so far off that it gave little comfort for the present. The promise of the resurrection can seem that way to us at times too.

The sisters also believed, however, that Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying. And when he did raise Lazarus (John 11:38-44), can you imagine the effects that had? What was it like for Lazarus after dying and then being raised? How was life changed for him and his sisters? I’m sure they saw Jesus in a totally different light.

During Lent, as we trace Jesus’ path to Jerusalem and beyond, we’re compelled to hear Jesus’ wake-up call about the purpose of his coming and what that means for us still today. If our faith is foggy and distracted by grief or sorrow, he shakes us once again with these astonishing words: “I am the resurrection and the life.”

This is one of the “I am” statements of Jesus, each of which anchors Christ’s identity as the one true God: “I am the resurrection and the life.” And he asks us, as he did Martha, “Do you believe this?”

Jesus, give us firm faith that you will raise us too from death, because you are alive! Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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