Scripture: John 11:19-27 (alternate reading: Matthew 13:36-43)
19 many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And 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 at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever 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, he who is coming into the world."
Meditation: What gives us hope and joy in the face of death? The loss of a loved one naturally produces grief and anguish of heart. When Martha, the sister of Lazarus and a close friend of Jesus, heard that Jesus was coming to pay respects for the loss of Lazarus, she immediately went out to meet him before he could get to her house. What impelled her to leave the funeral party in order to seek Jesus out? Was it simply the companionship and consolation of a friend who loved her brother deeply? Or did she recognize in Jesus the hope that God would restore life?
Jesus strengthens us in faith and hope
Martha, like many Orthodox Jews, believed in the life to come. The loss of her brother did not diminish her hope in the resurrection. She even gently chides Jesus for not coming soon enough to save Lazarus from an untimely death. Jesus does something unexpected and remarkable both to strengthen her faith and hope in the life to come and to give her a sign of what he was to accomplish through his own death and resurrection. Jesus gave to her belief a new and profound meaning: He came from the Father to defeat sin and death for us and to restore life to those who believe in him.
Jesus gives abundant life now and forever
Jesus states unequivocally the he himself is the Resurrection and the Life. The life he offers is abundant life - life which issues from God himself. And everlasting life - the fulness of life which knows no end. Do you seek the abundant life which Jesus offers to those who believe in him?
"Lord Jesus, you are the Resurrection and the Life. Strengthen my faith and hope in your promises that I may radiate the joy of the Gospel to others."
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb!
5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!
6 He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The voice of life and joy that awakens the dead, by Athanasius of Alexandria (295-373 AD)
"I am the voice of life that wakens the dead. I am the good odor that takes away the foul odor. I am the voice of joy that takes away sorrow and grief.… I am the comfort of those who are in grief. Those who belong to me are given joy by me. I am the joy of the whole world. I gladden all my friends and rejoice with them. I am the bread of life" (John 6:35). (excerpt from HOMILY ON THE RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
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