Why the Resurrection Is Not Our Hope

May 1, 2017

John 11:8-16

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

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.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

CONSIDER THIS

The stage is set for another sign. Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. As Jesus approached Bethany, Martha went out to meet him. She immediately let Jesus know it was his fault but there was still time for him to act. That is the real faith of a true friend.

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

It’s like Martha understood Jesus to say something akin to what we so often say in times like these, “Well, you know, Lazarus is in a better place now.” She didn’t want to hear it. She wanted him back yesterday! She says, in effect, “He’s gone! That doesn’t help me now.” Then Jesus speaks what are perhaps the most revolutionary words ever spoken.

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. 

Jesus is not speaking of resurrection in future tense. Well, he is, but not like this is somewhere over the rainbow. The Resurrection is not a future event. Neither is it a present event. He is saying, “I am the resurrection.” The Resurrection is not an event. It is a person. Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is the life. Jesus is not asking Martha to believe in something that will happen in the future. He wants her to know by believing in him now, the future has already happened.

With the resurrection of Jesus, the last day is now brought into the present. This is why we don’t hope in the future, as British theologian Jeremy Begbie put it, “We hope from the future.” Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, we who believe in him, who are baptized into his life, have already died to death and are risen to life. Did you get that? We are dead to death.

The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

It’s why Paul writes these words:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, though we die we do not taste death. It’s why Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), and again, to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

The Resurrection is not our hope. It is our reality. It is our life.

Maybe the most important words from today’s text are in the piercing question Jesus asks Martha.

Do you believe this?”

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life. Help us grasp this stunning mysterious truth that the Resurrection is a person—Jesus. Come Holy Spirit and gift us with comprehension of the eternal scope of the resurrection and the life who is Jesus and that this unthinkable gift be ours. We pray in his name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. How do you understand this notion that we do not hope in the future but we hope from the future?

2. How about this:  “The resurrection is not the future reality of a present event. It is the present reality of a future event.”

3. Do you believe this? That though we die we live and that in fact we have already died to death and are alive in the resurrection and the life now?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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