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Communion Meditations (2019)

 

Resurrection and Life

Originally scheduled for January 13

John 11:25-26

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:

·         He proclaims 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 passage.

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.

Christ asks 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 communion.

·         The Scripture 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.

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