Heavy clouds hung low in the gloomy sky as she turned her back to leave her brother for the last time. She couldn’t help but notice how the weather mirrored her swirling emotions. Sorrow was thick and confusion draped low in her heart in a way she’d never felt before. She was more than sad. Disappointment haunted her every step. She silenced the tears one more time as she slipped her arm around her grieving sister and resolutely lead her back home.
Lazarus was dead. There was no question about that. The funeral was over, and the tomb was sealed. One day had passed… then another… and another… and another.
Hope was gone, and all they could do now was move on.
It was into this desperate situation, that Jesus arrived to give Martha and Mary the unbelievable promise that their “brother would rise again.” (John 11:23)
Martha’s hesitation was understandable. So it would be easy to imagine that she had to swallow hard before she choked out the only statement of faith she could muster. “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (Vs 24)
Jesus answered her by making an astounding statement “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (vs 25) Then he turned aside and punctuated this profound claim by calling a dead man out of the tomb, proving that He had power over both physical and spiritual life. As astonishing as this event must have been, a greater miracle with a similar meaning but more far-reaching effects would soon be displayed when just days later, Christ Himself died and then three days later walked out of His own tomb.
In his book, Six Hours One Friday, Max Lucado tells the story of a missionary who discovered a tribe of people in a remote part of the jungle who were in desperate need of medical attention. As a contagious disease swept through their village, they refused to seek help at a nearby hospital because they feared crossing the local river. Ancient superstitions taught them to fear the water because they believed it was inhabited by evil spirits, and to enter it would lead to certain death.
The missionary implored them to listen, repeatedly explaining how he had crossed the river and was unharmed. They didn’t believe him. He took them to the bank and placed his hand in the water. They still wouldn’t go in. He waded into the water up to his waist and splashed water on his face. It didn’t matter because they were still too afraid. Finally, he dove completely beneath the surface and swam to the other bank. When he broke through the surface and punched a triumphant fist into the air, they were astounded that he’d faced the ‘evil spirits’ and survived. The villagers broke out into a cheer and then were willing to follow him across to ultimately be healed.
This is the story of all humanity. Jesus Christ showed up into a sin-ravaged world in desperate need of healing. He told us that the remedy was near, and not to fear the ‘river of death’, and that resurrection and life were found in Him. Though He let a dead man spend 4 days in a tomb and brought Him back to life, the people still struggled to believe His words were true. Only when He entered death himself and conquered the ‘evil spirits’ could mankind finally and confidently trust that the path to safety was cleared.
Jesus Christ has triumphed now! Because we are His, we can be confident that we will also triumph through Him!