Jesus gives us new life now to enjoy as a taste of what’s to come.
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 On his arrival,Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two mile from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Today’s Grow Daily focuses on verses 25-26 – as bolded above.
A friend of mine celebrated her birthday the other week. Her parents had bought her a present, but it was due to arrive late in the mail. So instead, her parents printed off a picture of her present to give to her on her birthday so that she’d have something to look forward to. The picture was a taste of what was to come. (Although perhaps a somewhat disappointing taste of what was to come…)
In the Bible there are promises that God makes to us which we do not receive right now, but look forward to in the future. Then there are promises which God makes to us now, as a taste of what is to come and a picture of what we will look forward to in heaven. This passage is a great example of the “now and not yet” type of promise as Jesus declares that he is the resurrection and the life.
We see this through the lens of Martha who discovers that the resurrection she looked forward wasn’t just a distant hope, but a present reality. As a devout Jew, Martha shared the belief that there will be a resurrection from dead on the last day. Jesus has spoken about this resurrection a number of times so far (5:21, 25-29; 6:39-40), but she was yet to realize that the blessing of resurrection life was standing right in front of her.
Jesus promises more than a future resurrection to look forward to. Notice the ambiguity in verse 25-26,
“…The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
These two statements are both true. There is a sense in which believers will taste death as our physical bodies pass away. But there is also a sense in which we who believe already enjoy resurrection life on this side of death, and will in some sense never die.
This means that we enjoy our present experience of new life with God, even as we await the day where we will be resurrected from the grave to enjoy the life that never ends. We get to taste of that future reality right now. Our hearts have been changed, we have been born again, we are a new creation, the Spirit of Jesus has raised us from spiritual death and now we are alive in Christ, and we enjoy all the blessings that come with that right now.
That means that we look forward to our future resurrection when we will be free from the burdens of our earthly bodies, and the wonderful promise that there will be no more pain or suffering or tears (Rev. 21). But we also enjoy a taste of that resurrection now, through the Spirit of Christ who is alive in our hearts.
Head: What does Jesus mean when he calls himself the resurrection AND the life? Look at 11:25b-26. How do those verses help us understand what Jesus is saying?
Heart: How does it make you feel knowing Jesus gives us life to enjoy now as a taste of what’s to come?
Hands: How does this change the way you see life in the world in the world now?
Thank you for the blessings I experience right now in the present because of what Jesus has done for me. Thank you that because of Jesus I have life in you. Your Spirit is alive in my heart, giving me a taste of the joy of never ending life with you in heaven. Please help me to hold firmly to that great hope, and to give thanks for the daily reminders of your grace to me in Jesus by the work of your Spirit in my heart.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: Christ is Risen