Resurrection and Life
Originally scheduled for January 13
On his way to the
tomb of Lazarus, Jesus stops to comfort Martha. In so doing he makes
three of the most extraordinary statements about himself:
himself to be “the” Resurrection. God is the sum of all perfections
and in that vein Christ says he is the Resurrection.
He tells us that
he is the life — the word in question is the Greek word for
biological life, not spirits floating around on clouds with harps.
And perhaps most
unusual of all, he says that if you believe this you never really
die. You may die physically, but you will continue to live. In the
context, this includes being raised from the dead.
If anyone tells
you that Jesus only claimed to be a good teacher, show him this
It often escapes
the curiosity of the reader, but it is absolutely contrary to the
expectations of the culture of the time that he would reveal this
first to Martha. First, she’s a woman — which means second-class
citizen in this society. And of all the women to reveal this to,
you’d think he would pick somebody like her sister Mary, who was the
spiritual type. Martha is associated with the woman in the kitchen,
washing dishes. She is portrayed as busy and practical, but not
particularly interested in the finer points of theology. Indeed, she
is no philosopher or theologian. She will never become a great
evangelist; and as far as we know she was never a teacher. Christ
revealed this to the most ordinary human being he could find.
There’s a lesson in that; this revelation is not for those of great
understanding only, but for the simple and straightforward as well.
Martha whether or not she believes this. She tells him that she
does. In a very real sense you proclaim the same thing when you take
tells us that you proclaim his death in communion. But if you
proclaim his death, you obviously proclaim his resurrection. It is
no great logical leap to see that he has the keys to hell and death.
You also tell the
world that he is the Christ, the Messiah. This is the one promised
to the Jewish people who would save them (and us) from our sins.
This is Emmanuel, “God with us.”
For that reason I
must warn you: if you don’t mean it, don’t take communion. The
Scripture warns us of this explicitly, but you can reason it out
fairly quickly. If you do this because everybody else is doing this,
God knows. You are messing with something he considers very, very
important. He will not take it idly.
If you do believe
this, then take heart. He is the Christ who is the resurrection; you
will live eternally in his kingdom in some bodily form. He tells us
that he has gone ahead to prepare a place for us. Communion says you
believe, and look forward to your new home.