My Wednesday men’s group is close to finishing up a study of John’s Gospel. It’s been a deep and helpful conversation, especially since we have been looking at John’s story as a complete account rather than reading a verse here, and a verse there.
What we’ve noticed – big picture – is that pretty much everything in John’s narrative is rooted in some way in the most recent “sign” Jesus had given (that’s what John calls miracles). It’s as if the thing that Jesus does – turning water into wine, healing someone, even raising Lazarus from death – anticipates and adds to whatever teaching Jesus is coming up with next.
Following Jesus is an invitation to life!
So this week we’re talking about resurrection. I love the Jesus resurrection story not only because it is central and definitive to our faith, but because it completely blows the Lazarus miracle (John Chapter 11) out of the water. Christ’s resurrection isn’t nearly the same thing. All Lazarus got was his old life back; before long he was going to have to die again. But Jesus after Easter Morning becomes what Paul later describes as “the firstborn of a new creation.” And if there’s a firstborn then there are others to follow – and that would be us!
This, friends, is what becomes ours when we experience new life in Jesus. And it is true, Jesus wasn’t kidding around when he said what must have sounded like some kind of a riddle: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
We are participants in this New Creation, and this renewed self will never die. Physical death is just a point of transition because who we are, the self of recreation (no matter how poorly or beautifully formed, brand-new and finding its feet, or mature with years of spiritual depth) will not, cannot die.
When Paul writes about the same idea later – but this side of the grave – he says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5)!
“For you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds,” the writer of Colossians explains. “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him” (Colossians 3)
And, amazingly in a society where everyone was defined in terms of their Jewishness, or slavery, or being a Roman, or the role limitations of male versus female, Paul explains how this plays out – or should play out…. In this new life: “it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.”
Christ is all that matters!
This placing Christ at the center of all things, this conscious decision to turn around and put on our new nature, this new creation, this spiritual life that will never die – this is the power of the good news of Jesus!
All Lazarus got was his old life back. We live into the promise of a resurrection life that will never die!
Peace and more peace – DEREK
PS – if you are interested, here is my new – weekly – VideoBlog. Today the video is to supplement my writing. However, depending on the response, I may offer this as an alternative.