The great missionary Hudson Taylor wrote, “trials afford God a platform for his working in our lives. Without them I would never know how kind, how powerful, how gracious He is”. There is no greater trial for us than the loss of a loved one. When a loved one passes away there is a hole formed in our heart that is impossible for anyone else to fill. My mother died over a year ago and I still think of her almost every day. Though some days are hard, and my longing to have her in my life again leaves me close to tears, I have hope. That hope is based on the simple declaration of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he died; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25, 26
The basic fact of the Gospel is that those people, who put their trust in Jesus though they may die, will be resurrected. Jesus declared to all who would listen, that this life is not all there is. John records the following story, “Jesus, once more deeply moved came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me. I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11; 38-44
Only a short time later Jesus would go to the cross and give His life for us. On the third day the stone would be rolled away and His followers would find an empty tomb. Jesus was risen and the power of death was broken. Eternal life was made assured for all who would believe. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” John 5: 24, 25 Jesus cries out, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming, when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out.” John 5:28, 29a
Jesus asked a simple question, “Do you believe this?” If we believe Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, and raised Lazarus, then it is possible for Him to raise the dead at the last day. This is another amazing gift God offers to the believer. Not only does God promise, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He will always be with us, He also promises we will be reunited with our loved ones again.
In the little village where my mother grew up is a beautiful graveyard nestled under the oaks. In this setting, on a beautiful spring day, my brother, my sister and myself along with a handful of close relatives laid my mother to rest. But, it is not the last time we will see her. On that amazing resurrection morning she will rise again. When Jesus cried out, “I am the resurrection,” we were all set free from the bondage of death. And the wonderful thing is, it is a gift from the gracious God of the Universe.
Next post we will look at Jesus words “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”.