March 29, 2020 (Sunday) - Facing Death - A Reflection on John 11:1-45

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

In the early days of the church, becoming a Christian meant accepting death. And accepting death in the most imaginative ways. Christians were boiled in vats of oil. They were thrown into pits to fight wild animals They were forced into gladiatorial combat. They were tied to chariots and ripped apart. Yet, people accepted Christ in the hundreds of thousands. Why?

Because, as believers in Christ, they had the promise of eternal resurrection. As Lord Jesus declares in today’s passage: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Then he asks: “Do you believe this?” They did believe it. Consequently, they had no fear of death.

Do WE believe this? It is an important question to answer, because millions are expected to die as a result of the Coronavirus, and some of us might be among them. If we believe what Christ said, then we should not fear, because death for the Christian is merely a stepping stone to another life; a better life. As Revelation says, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Honestly, I can’t wait to go. It will bring an end to this constant pain. But, yet, I want to stay to help others who are in pain and don’t know that there is a way out. Like Paul, I say: “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body (Philippians 1:23-24). But you need to listen if my staying is to have any value.

The way out is through Christ. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” he said. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is no way to a peaceful next life except through Christ, and if you are not a believer, now is the time to accept Jesus as Savior. If you are a lapsed believer, as so many millions are, it is time to turn back to him. And then you will fear no more.

Because, as Jesus said: "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19). And then we will live in the confidence that we are "more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). Even conquerors over death.