Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. John 11:25 (NLT)
Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus had become deathly ill. Even though Lazarus’ sister, Martha, had alerted Jesus to his friend’s illness, Jesus chose to delay coming to them, arriving 4 days after his death. The mourners had filled the house, and wailing could be heard from quite a distance.
When Martha was alerted their dear friend had finally arrived, she ran out to meet him, leaving the mourners and their sister, Mary inside. “Why didn’t you come sooner? You could have healed him?” Questions and hurt clouded the face that usually beamed upon seeing him. “Martha, your brother will rise again”, Jesus responded compassionately.
“Well, of course he will rise at the end of time, like all others who follow you.” Martha was certain.
Jesus insisted, “But, Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even if he dies will live. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (My rendition of the biblical account in John 11.)
Moments later, Jesus proved his authority by commanding death to give up its claim; and Lazarus, obediently came out of the tomb. Death had no choice but to obey “the resurrection and the life”!
Not too many days later, Jesus himself was nailed to a cross, and 3 days after, death spewed him out of the grave as well, because it could not hold “the resurrection and the life”!
Upon Jesus’ resurrection, it is also reported by eye witnesses, many graves were opened, and followers of Jesus who’d died were raised to life and were seen walking around Jerusalem! Death powerless to hold “the resurrection and the life”. (Matthew 27:50-56)
It is promised that one day, all who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for them, following him rather than their own way, will also be raised by “the resurrection and the life”.
This is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.
It isn’t a glimmer of hope. It’s a fact, born out by Christ’s resurrection, and eye-witness accounts of those who not only saw and spoke to the risen Christ, but those who later willingly gave their lives for what they saw and heard.
No one would willingly die for a lie or a glimmer of hope.
From ancient days until now, thousands (possibly millions) have chosen to willingly die sometimes gruesome deaths, because they would not recant their belief in the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.
Others have sought to discredit the accounts, only to eventually realize their validity.
And millions have died with peace, knowing one day, their bodies will be raised.
No one is able to face death with the ability to “fake peace”. Facing death has a way of unmasking even the best actor.
Less than a week ago, a very dear friend of mine, and Senior Pastor of our church, Paul C. Foster Sr., succumbed to death, his body too weak from cancer to fight any longer.
Over the previous months, as his cancer spread, and great pain became a moment by moment companion, he faced the pain, and suffering with a perspective only miraculous. Even in his death, I am told he was valiant, a warrior.
In December 2016, months after the pain from the bladder cancer had begun to etch the marks of its talons into his body, our Lead Pastor, his son, Sammy Foster, held an interview with his father. In it Paul Sr shared how God was using the pain and the uncertainty to change his life dramatically. During the interview, there was a peace about him other-worldly, because he had more than a glimmer of hope. He had a certain hope of life, even if he died.
The video (about 10 minutes) powerfully portraits someone who, without mask, faced death, knowing who would win. “From Interruption to Invitation”.
Friday last was his funeral. After, this was posted on our church’s Facebook page:
Am I sad? Yes. I miss my friend. But I know where he is. He’s not lost. He is safely home, where no pain can touch him, and no sadness can mar the glory now surrounding him, with his Master. He wouldn’t come back if he could. In a way, I’m jealous – for he’s seeing only what I longingly envision, and he experiences what I in faith believe, for now. He’s far better off.
Because of Jesus’ power over the grave, one day my grave will also yield to “The Resurrection and The Life”, and my body will shake off its dust. What a blessed, solid hope!
Lovingly praying for your hope as well,