I Am the Resurrection and the Life
Open Your Bible
John 11:1-44, Isaiah 26:19, Ezekiel 37:1-14
BY Bailey Gillespie
This past summer, I attended the SING! Conference, hosted by Keith and Kristyn Getty. While there, I heard Joni Eareckson Tada cast a vision for what the resurrection must mean for the physically and mentally disabled. She shared how the first thing she hoped to do in heaven after regaining the use of her legs was to kneel before God. This was because, growing up in church traditions that made space for confessional kneeling, she was not able to participate in this part of the liturgy, although her confidence in God’s goodness was obvious. I believe the resurrection, which means a literal “raising up,” has a secondary layer of beauty for those who cannot raise themselves physically now.
When Martha confesses belief that her brother Lazarus will rise again on the last day, Jesus tells her that He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Although Martha already believed in the coming resurrection, she didn’t appear to fully understand that Christ Himself was the embodiment of it. I imagine this is why Jesus explains how those who believe in Him will live on even after death and asks her: “Do you believe this?” (v.26).
The idea of Jesus raising her brother from the dead that day was almost too good to be true for Martha. It was a big ask. Her cheeks still wet with tears of grief, she knew that she would see her brother again, but it felt like hoping against hope that Jesus would revive his breath when so many others didn’t get that privilege. Four days in, surely Lazarus was gone (v.17).
To Martha, the resurrection at the end of history was a detached concept. It provided her with hope, but only a futuristic hope that barely touched her present grief. Jesus surprised her by bringing her brother back to life with the simple command of “Lazarus, come out!” (v.44).
One of my best friends told me once that “Truth is a Man.” It’s always stuck with me. Although, for some, Christianity may just be a system of strung together theological concepts (our human attempt to understand God), the center of the gospel is the person of Jesus Christ—who has skin and bones. Our whole faith history, before and after the incarnation, must now be interpreted through that earth-shattering event. This Man, who is also fully God, has the power to resurrect all things—our physical bodies and hearts and even the empty places that don’t have a name.
Whether, like Joni Earechson Tada, you’re one of the walking wounded who feel stuck or held back by physical and mental disadvantages, or you simply feel the toll of being human, the hope of the resurrection is that it is here, now—because He is here, now. Because Christ is in us, the same Spirit’s power that raised Him from the dead is in us, too (Romans 8:11). What a crazy and humbling thought that is.
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Raise me up Lord. Let that same spirit live in me today.
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