I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
(A biblical reflection on THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT [YEAR A], April 10, 2011)
Gospel Reading: Jn 11:1-45 (Shorter version: Jn 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45)
First Reading: Ezek 37:12-14; Psalms: Ps 130:1-8; Second Reading: Rom 8:8-11
So the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord he whom You love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it He said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.”
Now when Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And 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 at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever 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, He who is coming into the world.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he had been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me. I knew that Thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that Thou didst send me.” When He had said this, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what He did, believed in him. (Jn 11:3-7,17, 20-27,33-45 RSV)
Lazarus had spent four days in the tomb. Martha, his sister, must have continually recited the promise in her heart that God would deliver His people from the grave. When she heard that Jesus had arrived, she ran with relief to greet Him. It was good to hear the words of Jesus assuring that Lazarus would rise again. Yes, on the last day he would be raised.
Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:25-26). Jesus came to offer the promise of resurrection to every human being who believes and trusts in Him. Just as He wept before the tomb of Lazarus, He weeps over all those who are either unaware or unwilling to believe in the eternal life He offers. He is grieved when those He came to rescue from death remain bound in their fears and do not experience freedom or hope.
Jesus wants to ask each one of us: Do you believe this? Do you believe that I have overcome death? Do you believe that I can bring freedom in place of bondage to sin? Hope in place of despair? Light in place of darkness? If you do believe, then know that you can entrust to Jesus all the areas of your life that are wounded, despairing, or sinful. He has the power to raise up and bring life even to something that seems dead and decaying. Even in the most hopeless situations, the light of Christ can penetrate the darkness and bring deliverance.
Just as Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus, so does He come to us every day wanting to raise us up in His presence. He wants to raise our thoughts and hopes, so that we can experience the power of His life overcoming the darkness of sin. He invites us to be with Him and allow His words of tenderness in Scripture to comfort us. Since He will always be with us, we can be at peace. All that Jesus asks from each of us is that we proclaim with Martha, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who is coming into the world.” (Jn 11:27).
Please remember, that whenever we feel downtrodden, Jesus is standing at the entrance of our tombs, calling us by name: “Come out. I have set you free. Death has been destroyed.” In other words, all He asks is that we come out of our graves by confessing our sin and asking Jesus to cleanse us and lift us up to the Father’s throne. Now, let us respond by turning to Him in prayer, being cleansed by His blood, trusting in His authority against Satan’s lies, and standing on His truth in Scripture. Even when we feel dull in mind and spirit, we can ask Jesus to fill our hearts with His immense love. Praise God, He can raise us up!
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, there is no one like You. You are the source of all life. There is joy and freedom in Your presence. Thank You for loving me completely. If You see me in the tomb today, call me out, Lord. I only want to follow You! Amen.
Jakarta, April 8, 2011
A Christian Pilgrim