Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”…17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” —John 11:14-15, 17-27
In this Christmas week, we joyfully celebrate God’s love for us in giving His only begotten Son Jesus, with the promise that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. Oh, what is impossible for man is possible with God! And this is the impossible that God has done: that we sinners, dead in our trespasses, deserving of God’s wrath, would be loved by Him, snatched from perishing, made alive to now know and be known by the great I AM, the resurrection and the life. How amazing is God’s love and grace!
In 2008, my oldest brother Mike was diagnosed with cancer and after three years of unsuccessful treatment, the hard reality set in that his earthly life was near its end. He was a teacher who found joy in the intellectual exercise of study. He knew something about most things and a lot about the Bible and church history. He had knowledge about Jesus, but over time it became evident he had not fully trusted in Him. God’s deep mercy also became evident as He began drawing Mike to Himself in those last days on earth. He did this by planting a question in Mike’s heart. While I was visiting him one day, he asked it of me, “How is it that you can be so sure you are going to heaven when you die?” I paused, feeling fearful about how to be clear in my answer. I prayed silently asking God to give my brother His answer. Then I replied, “You are so knowledgeable about the Bible and you know a lot of what Jesus has said. I think He has a question He is asking you—‘Do you believe My words? Do you believe who I am?’ You know He has plainly said who He is. What do you think—is He trustworthy or is He lying to you? Has He told you the truth? Remember when Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.’ (John 11:25-26) and, ‘Truly, truly, he who believes has eternal life.’ (John 6:47)? Did Jesus speak the truth? Do you believe His claims and trust Him?” There was a long pause and then my brother answered, “Yes, I do believe what Jesus said about Himself. I believe He is trustworthy and has not lied in anything He has said.”
“Do you believe this?” The question Jesus asked Martha in John 11 is the same question He asked my brother—and asks each of us, “Do you believe My words? Do you believe who I am?” Some of you reading this may be facing trials that seem insurmountable, impossible—addiction, illness, or the consequences of willful sin. You may be experiencing deep pain and loss because of a divorce, or estrangement, or the death of loved ones. Life is hard and we need reminders of the assurance we have in Christ. Remember, with God all things are possible. Hear Jesus, believe and trust Him when He says to you, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Heavenly Father, as this new year begins, tune our hearts to the ultimate resolution of trusting fully in Jesus, the resurrection and the life. With gratitude and the joy of a Christmas day feast, Father, may we enjoy You and be satisfied in Your Word every day of our lives. Give us hearts to believe everything You have said in Your holy book. Grant us the strength to declare Your good news lovingly, faithfully, without fear, proving we are Your children risen from the dead in Christ Jesus. Amen.