Have you ever anticipated when things were going to go from bad to worse? Have you ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach a heart-wrenching outcome to a bad situation? We often want the best, but sometimes when living in a fallen world you just know when things are about to get worse.
Imagine with me, you are there with Jesus when He receives the news of his good friend Lazarus who is ill. He is touched because Lazarus is a good friend. But He declares that the illness will not lead to death but that God will be glorified through it. How will Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus through his sickness and suffering bring glory to God? For some reason Jesus doesn’t hurry to be with Lazarus. To make matters worse, Lazarus and his family lived where the Jews were seeking to stone Jesus.
When Jesus finally is on His way to see Lazarus, He receives news that Lazarus has died. Talk about a bad situation getting worse. Heartbroken, Martha ran tells Jesus, “if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus reminds her that Lazarus would rise again. Martha assumes Jesus is talking about a far-off moment in the future when God will set the world right and the end of all time has come. Isn’t that how we so often hear what Jesus says? We interpret what is spiritual through a foggy-far-off-disconnected-lens. Like Martha, we say “I know…that one day...” as though what Jesus is promising is somehow only in the far-off future and that the realities of what He is offering need to be reinterpreted into reality.
Jesus said to her, “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?” (John 11:25-26)
We say we believe, but we are often braced for disappointment not daring to really believe that the grand promises of Jesus might actually be experienced by us today in our present situation. We know how the rest of the story goes. Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb. IT’S A MIRACLE! The HOPE beyond all hopes is a REALITY! We dared not hope. We dared not believe. We dared not to let ourselves get excited. We dared not to believe that this time He would do what we knew He could do.
Jesus might have been several days away journey from Lazarus, but He is never too far away from each of us. Jesus might have arrived after Lazarus died, but He doesn’t show up too late. Jesus might have Himself died to prove that nothing is too powerful for Him to overcome, not even death. So a theme of resurrection that starts in a tomb with Lazarus is in retrospect a central theme in the life and message of Jesus. In their song, “Resurrecting” Elevation Worship sings, “By Your spirit I will rise, From the ashes of defeat. The resurrected King, is resurrecting me. In Your name I come alive, to declare Your victory. The resurrected King, is resurrecting me” How beautiful that the King who is resurrected would be doing a resurrecting work in me today. How magnificent that death does not have a hold over me. If Jesus can calm the raging sea, He can calm the storms in my heart. If Jesus can heal the sick, He can heal the disease and brokenness in me. If Jesus can offer forgiveness to the most notorious pharisee and the most notorious sinner, He can forgive me.
So what hope has died in my heart? What in my physical body is sick or broken and need resurrecting? What in my life has felt like is going from bad-to-worse and has caused me to be discouraged and to despair? What do I have to fear? What could possibly be beyond resurrected life for a King who brings back a valley of dry bones? What could be too impossible for the King who holds the stars in place? In what situation do I need to hope-against-all-odds that Jesus not only wants to show up as the Resurrected King in a powerful-real way but that He actually will?