Wednesday in the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time

John 11:17-27

He Literally Is The Resurrection and the Life

Continuing from yesterday, Jesus arrives in Bethany, just two miles southeast of Jerusalem, from where many Jews had come to comfort the sisters.  Of course, funerals are important events in our lives, but they were much more so among the Jews of Jesus’ day.  Mourning was accompanied by much wailing and weeping, and crowds of mourners would gather around the family and stay for several days.  That’s what Jesus meets when he arrives in Bethany where Lazarus had already been dead for four days.

Upon hearing of Jesus’ arrival, Martha arrives first: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Then she adds, “But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  Whatever Martha means, she does not mean that Jesus could or would raise Lazarus from the dead as is obvious from the conversation which ensues and her response to Jesus when he commands that the stone be rolled away from the tomb.  But let us turn our attention to the conversation between the two.  (I am indebted to the notes in my ESV Study Bible for some of my thoughts in this devotion.)  Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again, which she understands to mean “in the resurrection on the last day,” an orthodox belief that any Jew (minus the Sadducees) would have approved.  But Jesus’ response is one of the most crucial statements in all the gospels, even lies at the very heart of the gospel: “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?”

In these immortal words, Jesus says plainly that he is, in himself, both the Resurrection and the Life – not merely the cause or means thereof – but the very thing itself: Resurrection and Life.  We tend to think of Jesus as the means of getting somewhere, like to heaven or to the Father.  And in a very real sense, he is.  But he also is the thing itself: Not just the means to resurrection, but the Resurrection; not just the means to life, but the Life.  And we could add, the Grace, the Love, the Joy; indeed, the Everything.

One last point: Jesus says that our linkage to him is by believing in him.  And an interesting thing here is that the Greek word behind our word, “in,” is εις, which literally means, “into.”  The Greek language has a word for “in”; it’s εν, but Jesus didn’t use that word.  Jesus requires that we believe “into” him, which speaks of a more intimate and personal relationship than even, “in.”  May our faith and trust “into” him be so deep and personal.

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