Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”- John 11:25-26 NIV
For as long as I remember, I've been fascinated by Ripley's Believe It or Not! Tales of the freakish and fantastic. Sometimes when reading, I found myself doubting the validity of some of the claims. However, it's still fun to read, even if it means suspending my belief. It’s okay and even healthy, sometimes not to believe.
In today's verses, there is no disputing Lazarus was dead. The mourners had been sitting shiva for four days. Mary and Martha must have thought all was lost. In this dialogue with Mary, he does not indicate his intention to raise her brother, instead establishes his authority over death. But, he also pronounces the importance of belief, ending with the straightforward question, "Do you believe this?”
This question is the very basis of our faith as Christians. Not only do we believe Christ has the power over death, but do we believe in Christ period. Do we believe he was fully divine yet fully human? Do we believe he performed and still performs miracles, and he is our pathway to redemption and our example of justice and righteousness? Do we believe we must live as he lived, even the tough stuff like loving and caring for all of our neighbors without exception? So, to the question, "Do you believe this?” Let us answer humbly and in awe as Martha did, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
God, we give thanks for Jesus Christ. He conquered death, giving us the hope of eternal life with you, but he also taught us how to live. While we try, we confess we don’t always do the right thing; we exercise human justice and define righteousness as it suits us. We believe but freely admit that sometimes our faith weakens, and we doubt. God, please forgive us and help us in those times. Please help us to remember your goodness and your grace. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Blessings, Pastor Tim