Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Resurrection and the Life

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 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?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Jn 11:17-28
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Jesus seems to be talking all over himself, a walking contradiction. “Though he die yet he shall live. Which is it? Are we going to die or live?
Jesus is speaking of two kinds of death here. There is a bodily death that everyone experiences. Should the return of Christ be delayed, we will all die. We will all go the way of all dust. But this will not be our end. We will be raised again in new bodies. These bodies will have some continuity with our old bodies, but they will not be the same. Young Elvis or Fat Elvis? Is not a question when it comes to heaven. We will have new bodies more perfect than our bodies on earth have ever been even at the height of youthful glory.
This is actually important for us to consider. We are not souls trapped in a body. That which brings joy to our life is done in a body, whether eating or drinking, running, hiking, swimming, playing ball, and lets not forget marital delights. God created us to have a body and enjoy life in that body. This does not change in the resurrection, though there we will neither marry nor be given into marriage. But we will be given new bodies with which to enjoy our eternal bliss. There will be eating and drinking, and we will find delight in our toil, though we will no longer eat by the sweat of our brow.
But Jesus goes on to say that whoever lives and believes in him will never die. Our faith in Jesus is our life in him. When we believe in him, when we have been baptized into his death, then we walk in the newness of life even now, just as he has been risen to the glory of the Father. We will not die. We will never experience that second death, the death that is accompanied by the hell of fire, by the outer darkness and the weeping and gnashing of teeth. We have already been given eternal life, and the life we now live is eternal. So even now we live with him in his kingdom and serve and obey him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. This is our gift now, to be lived now in Jesus Christ who is the resurrection and the life for you and I. Yes, he is our life, our life is his life.

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