Resurrection Begins Now (And It’s Not Even Easter Yet)
By Beth Demme
There comes a time towards the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry when he raises a man from the dead, his dear friend Lazarus. The telling of this story always breaks me a little because of the words of Martha, the sister of Lazarus.
Martha is a do-er, a worker, a get-her-hands-dirty-and-serve-others kind of lady. We read about her in Luke 10 when Jesus stops by her house. Martha’s sister, Mary, doesn’t help with the work of hospitality. Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things … Mary has chosen the better part.”
After Lazarus dies Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21) Martha, the do-er, tells Jesus he should have done something.
In response, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He doesn’t say only, “I will bring resurrection and life,” but “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Jesus says to Martha, to you, and to me, “I am YOUR resurrection and YOUR life.”
God brings life to those moments that need resurrection.
When Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here –if only you had been here!—my brother would not have died,” this is every suffering person ever, isn’t it?
God if you had been here this terrible thing would not have happened. A mass shooting in a school, bombs exploding on front porches, planes into towers, an unexpected diagnosis – WHERE are you GOD?
God says, “I AM here. I AM with you.”
Theologian Marjorie Suchocki explains it this way:
God’s co-suffering with us is no end in itself; it is rather the means through which God, knowing us so deeply, brings forth resources from God’s own self that lead us toward our own resurrections. This is a sign that becomes reality throughout our lives in every trouble that we endure, with the intimation that resurrection is the ultimate reality in which and toward which we live. We will ourselves participate fully in God in that final resurrection toward which all our little resurrections lead.
Resurrection then, but also now.
Typically in the Gospel of John, there’s a bit of a formula to how things unfold. Normally, there’s a sign, then a conversation, then an explanation of the sign. Sign-Dialogue-Discourse. Here, the order is different. Here we have the dialogue and the discourse before the sign, before Lazarus is raised.
Even in the structure of this, John is showing us that resurrection is not just a future claim, it is a claim for now.
Think about that: a claim for a resurrection life NOW. Resurrection in this present (current), broken world and in present, broken me … and you.
Near the end of John’s Gospel, we read: I’ve written this down “so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have LIFE in his name.” (John 20:31)
All of this happened so that we may have life.
LIFE. Not just existence, do you see? There is a world of difference between existence and life. Jesus came so that we can have life, and have it to the fullest (John 10:10).
How do we do that? By being in relationship with God. By allowing God to give eternal meaning, resurrection meaning to every moment.
This is more than “the power of positive thinking” or choosing to be hopeful. We should bear witness to resurrection on a daily basis.
We are resurrection people! We see life where others see death. We know abundant life.
As the poet Mary Oliver wrote in one of her poems, “I don’t want to end up having simply visited this world.” Amen! Me too! We can know the difference between existence and life through God, the great I AM, the resurrection and the life.
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