Life & Hope
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26 NRSV)
The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, which is found in the Gospel of John (11:1–45), is one of my favourite stories from the Bible. It is a story that reveals the life and hope that we find only in God, which is something that people throughout the world desperately need in this time of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Jesus talks of the hope that is in us through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, which not only gives us life in the ‘current age’, but also gives us eternal life in the ‘age to come’. He talks of this when he says to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
In Jesus is life, and through Jesus the glory of God is revealed. And just like the story of the man born blind, from last Sunday’s gospel reading, which gave Jesus the opportunity to reveal God’s glory by healing the blind man, the death of Lazarus in today’s passage, provides another opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed in Jesus when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
And just like in the story of the man born blind, where Jesus declares, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world”, in today’s story about Lazarus, Jesus says to his disciples, “Those who walk in the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” As disciples of Jesus, we need not fear the darkness because we have Jesus to light the way for us. He has provided us with the teaching and example of how to live our lives that will keep us on the right path.
In the story of Lazarus, the author of John’s Gospel makes it clear to his readers that Lazarus is truly dead, not just in some comatose state. Because when Jesus comes to the tomb, and asks for the stone at the entrance of the tomb to be removed, Martha tells him that there is already a stench because he has been dead for four days. This suggests the body of Lazarus has already started to decompose. So it truly is a miracle when Jesus raises Lazarus to life. The glory of God is revealed through Jesus in this miracle. Jesus makes this clear to those witnessing the event when he says aloud to God, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.”
Unfortunately a lot of people in the world today don’t believe that God was revealed to humankind in and through the person of Jesus Christ, and I wonder what gives such people hope during dark times like those the world is experiencing at present. The situation that we, and the rest of the world find ourselves living in now in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, is an extremely challenging one, and for many it is a frightening one. Our lives as we know them have changed drastically. We no longer have access to things that we normally take for granted. We aren’t able to undertake the activities that we normally would.
We might be feeling isolated and lost. But we needn’t feel that way. God has put His spirit within us. The same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead now dwells in us. We can put our trust and faith in God that, we WILL emerge from the darkness of these days, and that in the meantime He provides us with the light that we all need to endure the inconvenience, frustration and challenge that faces us.