The Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan
Today’s Gospel: John 11:1-27
I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord.
Whoever has faith in me shall have life,
even though he die.
And everyone who has life,
and has committed himself to me in faith,
shall not die for ever.
Jesus’ words in today’s gospel are reflected in the familiar opening sentences of the Burial Office. They serve as a statement of comfort and hope; sincere hope that God who knows each one of us desires that none of us will fully die, but live again. For indeed, hope is at the center of our faith.
Yet, there doesn’t seem to be much hope in the beginning of today’s reading. Rather, it is a distressing scene. Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, was sick, so they sent word to Jesus. Based on past experience, they knew Jesus could heal him, but Jesus delayed his arrival by four days. When Jesus finally arrived, Martha went out to meet him and immediately reprimanded him. Not holding her tongue, she bluntly said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Interestingly however, she adds, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”
All of us who have experienced the death of a loved one knows that our emotions can be raw with those we are closest to, but Martha’s plea conveys her hope that Jesus will do something. Hope rooted in her faith and belief in who Jesus was as the Messiah–the Son of God which led her to believe that he could have prevented Lazarus’ death if only he had arrived earlier. Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again,” but Martha’s response affirms her understanding that there will be a resurrection of the dead in the last days. Now, Jesus guides her into a deeper understanding of his identity and the life he offers, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She responded, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
Like Martha, it may be easier for us to believe that on some distant day in the by-and-by the Lord will come back and the dead will be raised, than it is to believe that today we can live for God. Are we able to believe that God wants to bring new life to our current circumstance? If we believe just a little that Jesus can change our perspective, change what is right in front of us into a moment of resurrection and life, we will experience this new life today. Jesus, asks us all, “Do you believe this?” Now is the moment to respond.
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good
things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such
love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above
all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we
can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.