21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
In the verses prior to this, Jesus is speaking to Martha (her), whose brother Lazarus has just died, and they are discussing the idea that there is such a thing as resurrection and Lazarus will be raised to life at the last day. Jesus then says He is the resurrection and the life, He is the one from whom anyone will get the option to be resurrected and live. In the verse after this, we see Martha say she believes what Jesus says, and acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God who came into the world as God’s designated Savior (“the Christ” or “the Messiah”) of the world.
Resurrection is not some abstract distant concept to believe in, perhaps something like how some of us consider any of Newton’s laws, that is, we accept its validity but could not quite articulate, explain or intimately appreciate it. Resurrection – the idea of there being life and judgement after death as we know it – is fundamental to living life meaningfully. It creates purpose and a sense of responsibility in doing the right things while we are alive because there is a final judgement by God and we will have to account for everything we do.
The judgement determines our admission to heaven. Only those who have suitable sacrifices can come into God’s presence, and the only sacrifice that God has considered perfectly acceptable was Jesus’ life (because Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven). Therefore, it is only through believing that Jesus’s sacrificial role for our lives – regardless of how good or bad people we are – that we can enter God’s kingdom. And after we enter, we are evaluated for our life-doings and rewarded accordingly.
Why then does He also say He is the life, not just He is the resurrection and end there? Because if He only talked about the resurrection, then one might think life after death is a long time more, all we need to do is check the box “I believe in Jesus,” get our golden ticket and go off and do whatever. Note He uses present tense verbs “believes” and “lives by believing” – our faith in Him is not a been-there-done-that bucket list, but an ongoing real-time experience that goes from now till eternity.
And why does He say He is “the life”, not just He is “life”? Because if He just said He is life, then He becomes a check box again. We have said the sinner’s prayer, so we are “safe” and we can go off and do whatever. However, when He says the life, it means there is an ultimate, a standard, a quality to be attained. In our hearts we know that is true because we would all agree that the way we go about our daily lives would be quite different if we were aware of Jesus presence every moment, making decisions abiding by His values and principles, compared to how we are doing now. The meaningfulness of our lives would be at completely different level when we take to heart what following Jesus means.
Even if you are not a believer, and all you can say is “Jesus was a very good person” (which is incorrect because it is an incomplete statement of who Jesus is, but we can save that discussion for another day), you would agree that following this man who transformed people’s lives the way He did would likely lead you to have greater impact on the world be better than leaving you to your own devices.
Therefore, if following Jesus offers what we really want – a golden ticket to heaven and eternal well-being, and a life rich in purpose and value – then we need to re-look at how we take Jesus into our lives, and reflect on the implications of that.
(Tomorrow, we will continue looking at this incident to see how it evolves, so stay tuned.)
Thoughts for the day
- Do you consider God as the only true God? Do you accept Jesus as being sent by God on mission to save you?
- What is the eternal value of your choice of current priorities, and the manner in which you are executing them?
- What rooms of your life have you kept Jesus out of or not let Jesus fully enter? Ask Him to point out to you what changes and/or upgrades to make. After He has done so, will you say yes and commit to His “home-improvement” plan? (If you are concerned that the overhaul might be too much for you to handle, you can ask Him for baby-steps first!)
Dear God and heavenly father, thank you for the provision of resurrection through your son Jesus. I want resurrection and a purposeful life, I want the life, and I want you. Help me to invite you into every corner of my heart and life today, help me to be open to and desire the changes you are asking today, and help me to cooperate and commit to your “home improvement plan” today. Amen.