“Martha then said to Jesus, ‘Lord if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of 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 on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord;I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.’” (John 11:21-17).
Have you ever stopped to ponder the audacity of some of Jesus’ claims? We tend to grow accustomed to the words of Christ recorded for us, not necessarily ignoring them, but forgetting their context and power. When He made this statement to Martha, he wasn’t blithely looking toward heaven with a glow on his face uttering platitudes to comfort her at the loss of a family member, He was reassuring her by focusing her attention on His person and power, and in the process, turning her world on its ear.
For 1st century Jews, the “Resurrection of the Dead” was a concept of the last day, when all people would be raised to life by God. Clearly this is what Mary is clinging to in verse 24. Jesus’ response doesn’t invalidate this, but brings it to full expression in Himself. He tells Martha (and, through Scripture, all of us) that He is the hope of eternity and the very breath of life in bodily form! Anyone within earshot would’ve been scandalized to hear such talk–a Nazarene carpenter claiming to hold the destiny of the world and to be the source of life? Small wonder that later in this same chapter we see the chief preists and pharisees conspiring to kill Him. They weren’t particularly fond of His other incredible claims, like “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58), and “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), either.
But Martha wasn’t offended; she was astonished, and she believed. “You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world” (v. 27). For the Jews of that day, the only two logical responses to such a claim were indignation (reinforcement of the tradition belief system) or acceptance (realization that the belief system was being transformed by the presence of its object). Martha’s belief changed everything about her perspective on life, death, and faith–she knew that He could be trusted and would sustain her, and even restore Lazarus to physical life if He so desired. Christ was enough because He was life in full.
As we approach our grandest celebration of our Risen Lord this Sunday, remember that He is the Resurrection and the Life, and remember the power of that statement. It is no less bold today. We say we know that God is the Creator and the One who holds our lives in His hands, but do we understand the magnitute of this truth or its centrality to our spiritual rebirth in Christ? As we reflect on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and long for our resurrection (or restoration) at His return, stand in awe of the fact that this Jesus whom we worship is life itself.
Posted by Justin Lonas
Did you ever stop to wonder why in an age where the entire world is quite literally at our fingertips through the internet and other digital media that we (I’m extrapolating from my own experience here) spend so much time being bored? We have so many choices that we can’t possibly decide what to do in any given situation without a nagging doubt that we’re missing out on something better. The end result is a something of a shutdown of our ability to make decisions and our desire to act–just look at the proliferation of devices whose appeal is based on randomization. We set our music players to “shuffle” because we have so many songs we can’t possibly decide what to listen to; we have iPhone apps that will select a restaurant for us; Wikipedia will pull up random articles for those craving information without direction; “Can’t make up your mind? Let us do it for you.”
We tend to view the inevitable dissatisfaction and boredom that our way of life brings as something that plagues us, something external to be removed (by what, more choices?) rather than something deeply wrong within ourselves. Are we bored because there truly is nothing exciting or meaningful to do, or because we know what to do and we know that it places demands on our lives that we are unwilling to accept? Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop in more ways than one. Boredom can open our hearts to sin, sure, but the boredom itself can be just as effective a tool for Satan to keep us from obedience to the Lord.
Perhaps boredom is God’s way of calling us back to Himself and reminding us that nothing of this world can satisfy our souls. Perhaps He is using boredom to open up an empty space within our souls to be filled with prayer and meditation on His Word. Are we listening when that still small voice creeps into the void (in spite of our best efforts to squeeze it out with entertainment and the noise of life) or do we run from what it calls us to in pursuit of ever more unfulfilling “pleasures”?
Maybe you found this post because you’re surfing the internet out of boredom, no shame there, but I’d encourage us all to listen when the Lord is trying to get our attention. When those “lulls in the action” of your day come, take it as a cue to take your soul off “shuffle” and bow your heart to God in prayer. Take time to read and re-read His Word. Spend a moment reflecting on the magnitude of His blessing and sincerely ask Him what He would have you do with your time, talent, and treasure. You may just find that boredom only exists when you actively ignore God’s presence, and that there is nothing in life quite so exciting and consuming as prayerful obedience to Him.
Posted by Justin Lonas