Photo credit to archi-trouve.blogspot.com
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25,26
Death. Fear. Sorrow. Death or even the thought of death brings with it some very strong emotions. A recent widow at church just shared her testimony about fearing her husband’s death and how You, Lord, filled her with peace. But death is definitely surrounded with strong emotions.
That was true when Lazarus died. Mary and Martha were suffering. I mean, they sent word to You, Jesus, before Lazarus was dead. But You didn’t arrive until Lazarus had been dead for four days! Martha was the first to run to You outside the town. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” And when Mary comes, the first words out of her mouth are, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Isn’t that so much like us? I know it’s like me. “Lord, if only You had responded at the right time, my time, this wouldn’t be happening this way. When are You going to start responding in the right time, my time?” Because that’s what I’m really saying without even realizing it, well, now I realize it. So, will I keep responding like that? Because the fact of the matter here is that this was Your perfect timing. You were in control. You are in control and You knew and know exactly what You were and are doing. That Lazarus had died was according to Your plan for the sake of those who would believe. And You said, “for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” But what are we to believe?
Are we to believe that You can raise Lazarus from the dead? That’s part of it. You tell us “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Is it just about Lazarus’ resurrection or our resurrection or Your resurrection? Or does it have to do with something bigger than Lazarus and bigger than me and bigger than Mary and Martha and the disciples?
What does it mean that You are the Life? You are not just the Resurrection, but You are also the Life. You are Life before life as we know it ever existed. You are Life that brought life into existence. You are Life that keeps us living. You are Life after what we recognize as life. You are Life eternal. And I can’t describe all that You are as Life, except that I think to realize what it means, is to learn to live and depend upon You and in You differently. I mean, what if You, Life, were my existence? What if I realized that I am only alive in You, for You, and of You? What if to believe in You is to surrender myself to be resurrected anew by and in You and to realize my life in You? And what if realizing my life in You meant realizing that every portion of my life, every moment, every millisecond is in Your control and care and being guided within the Life that is You? Would that change the way I live?
It’s like in Your statement to Martha, You told of what we receive from You by believing. But then You restated the same thing in other words to tell us what our living ought to look like as we live in the reality of this truth. And so You reveal this glorious life altering truth, or reality, about life in You, and about You to us and still we weep outside the tomb. We say we see, but do we really? If I saw, why would I still be weeping? Would I say instead, “So, Lord, You mean even this terrible life event is for Your glory and so we will see You and know You more deeply? Well, I ought to wipe my tears away and sit back and wait and watch for how You will show Yourself in this situation.” But instead, I miss that and I sit and weep outside the tomb. So how does that make You feel?
You see the weeping of those who say they believe. And You see the weeping of those who don’t get it at all, and it makes You groan in the spirit, and it troubles You. Is it the weeping that troubles You or is it death that troubles You? And what does it mean when You groan in the spirit? Well, that phrase comes from the Greek word “embrimaomai.” Now think of a battle scene with a snorting war horse and you have the image of this word. It’s associated with violent anger, heat in the breath, the scent of battle, raised blood pressure. Does it sound like You, Jesus, are just sad outside the tomb? It sounds mad, but what are You mad at?
Are You mad at death and Satan? “O, Death, where is your victory? O, Death, where is your sting?” “I’m here to defeat you!” Or could You also be angry over something else? Could it make You snorting mad when You demonstrate the truth to me time and time again and I say I understand when I don’t really get it and then I run and live as though I don’t understand? What makes me so hard-headed, so hard-hearted? I mean, I’m no different than Martha or Mary here. How many times do I sit under the learning of Your Holy Spirit and Your Word and You teach me Your Truth about You and I get a glimpse and I even write about it and tell others and then the same day or the next day, wham!, life situation and I find myself not responding in that truth.
But I don’t think You are angry at me. You are angry for me. You are my War Horse. You want to stomp out those things battling against me. But I forget to climb up on You. I forget to let You lead me into the battle fray. I keep acting like a civilian and the fact of the matter is, I’m a soldier 24/7 now. And I should never be separated from my War Horse.
Maybe this is a strange direction to take this Biblical truth. But I need to declare war against my old nature. I need to declare war against every thought in me or in the world that is not of You or stands against You. You are the One who brought me to life, to new life, and You are the One who is strong enough to keep me in You and to give me the power and the strength to live in You. You are the Resurrection and the Life and it has started in me. So let me truly believe and live my life, every part of it, including my emotions, as though I believe now. And when death or hardship comes, may my first reaction be joy, because I know that You will use this situation to glorify Yourself before us. Lord, take away every stone that has been laid in the way and be glorified in my life.