18 Friday Apr 2014
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26
The whole world thought he was dead.
Their hopes had been so high. Living under an oppressive rule, he had emerged as a man who performed miracles among the least of them — the poor, the lame, the blind, the leper, the demon-possessed. So many lives had changed beyond anything they could have imagined. They were healed, brought back to life, rejoined to their families, all because of one man.
One man had noticed them when no one else had. When the only other attention given to them was shame or pity, he had seen them. He had looked into their eyes, into their very souls, and validated their existence.
He had done and said things no one ever had. He worked on the Sabbath and made no apologies. He overturned the tables and cleared the temple for making a mockery of it. He stood in the faces of hypocritical religious leaders and called them blind guides and whitewashed tombs. He fed thousands with a boy’s lunch.
They’d hoped to make him king. He was on his way to greatness and they were on their way to freedom. Just a week before they had celebrated him.
And now he was dead.
His disciples were in mourning. He had said something to them about being raised on the third day, but who could know what he meant now. The past three years were gone, and it all seemed a blur. Things seemed to be headed in such a hopeful direction. Once they thought he’d be their leader and they’d serve alongside him. He would redeem Israel. He would be their savior.
Now he was a prophet at best. Just a good man lying dead inside a tomb. Where was God? Why did He let it happen? Jesus’ life and theirs had all taken a turn they never saw coming, and all their hopes and dreams were gone.
But things aren’t always as they seem.
Beyond their understanding, beyond their imagination, beyond their greatest hopes and dreams, Christ rose from the dead on the third day, just like He said He would.
Now, with the benefit of 2000 years and God’s Word, we know the end of the story. We know there was a purpose for His death. We know He was indeed the Christ, the Messiah who was to come, and that He had to die and live again for the remission of the sins of mankind. We know He stayed with them, teaching them for another forty days, and then He ascended into heaven to the right hand of the Father where He rules forever.
God’s ways were much higher than Jesus’ disciples ever could have imagined. He didn’t come just to save Israel for this life, but all believers for eternity. He didn’t come to be just king of a country, but King of our hearts. We know He wasn’t only a prophet or a good man, He was, and is, God.
And in His resurrection, He showed His power over death. He proved the words He’d spoken to them: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6
Resurrection morning is all about life. His life and ours. It’s about the Source of life coming down to redeem us and give us new life. Not only did Christ rise, but in Him we rise. When we believe in Him we’re forgiven of all our sins and His life courses through our veins. We have the promise of our souls rising from the grave the moment our life here ends, and our bodies at the end of all things.
But we are not yet resurrected. We are still bound to these bodies and we battle sin in ourselves and in the world every day. And there are times our lives can take a jolting turn. Like the disciples, we can have plans that God doesn’t have. Life had been moving along so well and we had it all mapped out. And then there was the loss of something — a child, a spouse, a parent, a career, a friendship, health. Something changed and it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Disillusion sets in. All our hopes and dreams are gone.
And we can be like the disciples in those long hours after their friend’s lifeless body had been carried away for burial. We wonder what happened. We wonder where God is and how things could have turned out so differently than we thought they would. The hours tick by and we wonder if the third day will ever come. We feel lost, confused and alone.
But things aren’t always as they seem.
In the dark hours of suffering and loss we can understand what the disciples didn’t: that our preconceived notions and personal hopes and dreams have to die if God’s are to live in and through us. Just as God wanted to do so much more than the disciples could have imagined, He wants to do much more in our lives than we can ever dream.
We see the end of the story that the disciples had not yet seen. And God sees the end of our story. He sees what He is making us to be. He sees what’s on the other side of that hill in our journey. He sees the joy on our faces as He raises us from the dead and we join Him in heaven. He sees us living whole, glorified lives, our souls freed from every kind of pain to soar forever with Him in new life.
He is the Author of Life, and we can trust Him.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
Christ’s power over death is at work in us right now. It may not look like it; it may not feel like it. But the disciples would all tell us that looks and feelings can be deceiving. We can have His joy now, knowing our third day will come soon. And one day that joy will be complete, when the Maker of Life raises us with Him. His resurrection gives us a taste of that new life now, and a glimpse of the glory to come.