Read John 11:1-44
I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25a)
I was a new believer in my teen years, when I faced one of my first encounters with sickness and death. My uncle’s health was declining. Having read enough in the gospels to realize that Jesus had some amazing miraculous abilities, I essentially did what Mary and Martha did. I sent for Jesus…OK, not quite the way that the sisters did by sending a person. Instead, through prayer, I invited him to come and heal. But much like Mary and Martha observed with Lazarus, my uncle’s health declined still further…and he died.
Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
Both Mary and Martha voiced those words (vv. 21, 32). And those words were running through my mind after hearing of my uncle’s passing. The presence of death somehow indicated the absence of God. Don’t believe that for a moment!
Remember what Psalm 23 tells us?
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… (Ps. 23:4)
Later, the psalmist tells us,
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. (Ps. 116:15)
It is true that God allows and even finds joy in the passing of His children. Physical death does not indicate His absence.
In addition, death does not signal His helplessness. As I walked past my uncle’s coffin, there was nothing he could do and nothing I could do. But the Jesus whose birth we celebrate in this season is both “resurrection” and “life.” He imparts eternal life to all who, by faith, appropriate His cross-work to their lives.
Deceased followers of Christ are still very much alive. Though they are “away from the body,” they are “at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8) And the day will come at His return at an event we refer to as the “rapture,” when He will resurrect their decayed bodies. More than just restoring them to life, He will glorify them!
Because He is the resurrection and the life, death implies neither His absence, nor His helplessness! We have hope because Jesus is alive.