Christian worshippers light candles around the Edicule of the Tomb of Jesus (where his body is believed to have been laid) at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City on March 21, 2017. PHOTO| AFP
SUNDAY SERMON: Jesus is the life that keeps the world going
Lazarus died. Martha and Mary were overcome with grief. They had sent a message to Jesus, begging him to come. He had delayed and arrived late. Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days by the time Jesus arrived in Bethany.
Martha said: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She believed Jesus would have cured Lazarus the same way he had seen him cure hundreds of others. Though disappointed, she held on to a glimmer of hope and said, “I know that, even now, God will grant you whatever you ask of him.”
Martha looked upon Jesus as a prophet. Jesus wanted greater faith. He wanted her to believe that he is much more than the greatest prophet that ever lived. He told her: “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered vaguely, “I know he will rise on the last day.” She hesitated to say: “Raise my brother from the dead!” She had once commanded Jesus to do something and he had refused. When she had commanded him, “Tell my sister to help me”, Jesus had replied, “Martha, Martha, you worry about so many things and yet only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken away from her.” We can’t blame Martha for hesitating. As the proverb says: “Once bitten, twice shy.”
Martha spoke in general terms about a resurrection at the end of the world (a belief common among the Jews). Jesus said: “I am the resurrection!” Jesus is not just some prophet who can ask God to do things. He is God. Whatever the Father can do, he can do. “I am the resurrection and the life!” Jesus has the power to raise from the dead.
This also means something more mysterious. You will rise from the dead and live forever with Jesus in his kingdom if you believe in him. But believing in him means becoming one with him. Jesus does not give you life the way a friend might give you a gift on your birthday – a gift you will enjoy once your friend has left and gone home. Jesus is the gift he wants to give us: “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Jesus asks Martha, “Do you believe this?”. Martha makes her act of faith, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” As we approach Easter, we can make our own act of faith.
Have you ever explicitly prayed to Jesus, using those words: “I believe that you are the Son of God”? Remember St Paul’s words: “If you declare with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.”
Source: Daily Nation