John 11:1-6, 17-26, 38-44
The Rev. Dr. Robert S. Langworthy, preaching
March 26, 2023
If it is true that Jesus still lives after rising from the dead and loves us still, is it not obvious that He’d want to share everything He has with us, including His resurrection life – if we want it?
And if it true that He raised Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus who’d eventually go on to die a second time, is it not obvious that Jesus wants to share His resurrection life with us in the here and now as well as in the hereafter?
And if it is true that Jesus wants to share His resurrection life with us in the here and now, is it not obvious that we can, to the extent we let it happen, experience here and now, more and more, the newness of life His resurrection can bring – with the result that we will more and more find ourselves not just thinking about Him but having Him think within us…not just speaking about Him but having Him speak through us…not just working for Him and His purposes but having Him work by means of us with a power beyond our own – and enabling us thereby to courageously and generously give of our time and treasure to help the poor, bravely and perseveringly confront the forces of injustice, and boldly and forthrightly tell the good news many want suppressed?
Finally, if it is true that we can grow more like Jesus – albeit in a gradual, often two-steps-forward-one-step-backward process that leaves us still not nearly as much like Him as a whole lot of other folks – is it not obvious that our hearts will be sustained and energized in the effort by our hoping in His ongoing resurrection life?
Did you notice I kept saying “if it is true”? I have put it that way because, though I am staking my life on all these things being true, I get it that none of these things have been proven and that not all of us, either online or in-person, believe them to be true.
I do think there is enough evidence to believe in these things without being unreasonable. But I realize there’s not enough evidence to be unreasonable in doubting them and thus there’s a risk in believing in them.
Yet, there is also a risk in not believing in them, a risk of missing out – if these things are true – on a wonderful life of joy, peace, power and hope.
If Jesus is the resurrection and the life and wants to share His resurrection life with us, our days here and now – as difficult as they may remain – can become beautiful to us and more helpful to others. We will feel uplifted by the company of the best Friend one could ever want. We will access an inner strength we could never generate ourselves. We will be pulled out of much of our narcissistic self-absorption and develop a passion to set right what’s wrong in our systems and to share the good news too good to keep to ourselves. We will better defy our fears, grow in our love for ourselves and others and persevere, undaunted, in caring about the environment, striving to end hunger and fighting to liberate the oppressed. We will, while grieving the loss of precious people and things as much as anyone else, know consolation in the faith that no good thing is irretrievably lost but will in the end be restored and fulfilled. We will hold on to dreams we barely dare to dream but are all in on pursuing – because we believe that in the final resurrection we won’t just get our body back, but the body we always wanted but never had; and we won’t just get our life back, but the life we always wanted but never had.
Furthermore, as we hope in Jesus’ resurrection life in the here and now, we become a sign of hope for others that there is something marvelous there for everyone…as former atheist Lee Strobel did.
Strobel’s daughter Allison was five years old when he started following Jesus. Until then, the only father she had ever known was unpredictable in his mood swings and frightening in his fury. He cringes, remembering how once he kicked a hole in the living room wall, just because he was enraged against the world, and scared his little girl out of her wits. He cringes, remembering how she would hide in her room to get away from him.
But five months after he began to live as a disciple of Jesus, Allison approached his wife and said, “Mommy, I want Jesus to do for me what He’s done for Daddy.” Now that five-year-old hadn’t studied the case for faith. All she knew was that her father used to be hard to live with and had become a delight to live with – and that she wanted for herself whatever had made such a wonderful difference in him.
What Jesus has, Jesus shares. His resurrection life can improve us, our relationships, our world and our future forever. Let us pray.