From the Pastor's Pen

April 2019

 

From the Pastor’s Pen…

 

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?

—John 11:25–26

 

With these words, Jesus led Martha to a crisis of belief, one that ultimately would lead her to a far deeper trust in Christ and into a vastly more intimate relationship with Him. The crisis was occasioned by the death of her brother, Lazarus. But strictly speaking, it was not the fact of Lazarus’ death that threatened to shake her faith. She had seen her Lord work many miracles. She believed that Jesus could restore Lazarus to life even now that he had been dead four days. (v. 22) Further, Martha had every confidence that Lazarus would “rise in the resurrection at the last day.” (v. 24) Indeed, Martha knew that Jesus’ power to give life was both a present reality and a promise to be realized in fullness “at the last day.” She had no doubt about Jesus’ ability.

 

Whence, then, the crisis of belief? Was it along the lines of Jesus’ identity? Martha’s response to Jesus’ question as recorded in verse 27 could scarcely be more theologically correct: “Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” No, Martha was correct in her assessment of Jesus’ identity. She knew He was both the promised Messiah and the divine Son of God.

 

In what, then, did Martha’s crisis of belief consist if not in Jesus’ ability or identity? It was a question of trust . . . trust in a Person, the great ‘I AM’. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus, “whom You love” (as if they needed to remind Him) was very sick. According to John’s record, they did not even explicitly ask Jesus to heal Lazarus or come to him. They simply assumed that Jesus would heal their brother. But Jesus did not do as they had expected. He did not heal Lazarus from afar as He had others. Apparently, He did not even send word to the sisters that He was on His way. To the contrary, Jesus delayed His departure for Judea two days, Scripture tells us, because He loved them. (v. 6) That “because” is important. Jesus had something greater for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus than a simple healing. He wanted their trust to be not in what He could do for them, nor even in whom He claimed to be. He wanted their trust—and their lives—to be in Him.

 

The precious truth of John 11:25–26 is not that Jesus gives life; the precious truth is that Jesus is life. Our hope is not so much that Jesus promises resurrection life to us, but rather that Jesus is resurrection life in us. Our hope and trust is not in Jesus' ability, though in Christ all things are possible. Nor is it even in the promises that He has made to us. Our hope and trust is in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah, Son of God and Son of Man.

 

On the night of Jesus’ betrayal, we find Him trying to lead His disciples to understand with their hearts this essential truth. In the fourteenth chapter of John, we find Jesus assuring His disciples that, though He must now go away, they will be together again. Jesus continued, “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas, ever the one to question, said (my paraphrase), “Lord, we really don’t know where you are going, and we sure don’t know how to get there.” To this Jesus replied, “I AM, the way, the truth, and the life.” Or in my words, “Thomas, you don’t need a map; you need Me.”

 

In just a few weeks we will celebrate Easter. We remember the horrific events of Jesus’ rejection, trial, and crucifixion. We rejoice over the empty tomb . . . as well we should. But the trust that gives life and that more abundantly, is not mere intellectual assent to the historicity of these events, to the horrors of the cross, or to the glories of the resurrection. It is not even agreement that the resurrected Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, for the “even the demons believe—and tremble.” (James 2:19) It is trust in a Person, the great ‘I AM’, the Messiah, the Son of God. It is not the events we celebrate, as important and wonderful as they are. Rather, Easter is the celebration of a Person who triumphed over sin, death, hell, and the grave. At Easter, we celebrate and honor Jesus, the Risen, Glorious, Triumphant Son of the Living God!

Pastor Mark