The Gospel lesson for this past Sunday was the raising of Lazarus from the dead in John 11.
While we focus on the amazing conclusion, as Lazarus steps out of the tomb alive again after four days of being dead and buried, the critical moment is much earlier, in Jesus’ discussion with Martha outside town. In response to Jesus’ assurance that her brother Lazarus will live again, Martha responds with an affirmation in a doctrine of resurrection. Her brother will live again on the day of the resurrection. But Jesus corrects her doctrine slightly. She is not, in fact, looking forward to the resurrection as a time or an event. Rather, she should be looking forward to the resurrection of the dead as a person – the promised one of God. That one, that Messiah or deliverer will be the source of the resurrection.
We need to bear this in mind today. Christians are likely (or perhaps it’s just me) to treat the resurrection of the dead as a bit of doctrine associated with a time and place, an event in the life of the Church and all creation. But more accurately, we anticipate the resurrection of the dead that will result from a person – the return of Jesus the Christ in glory. Where Jesus is, there is life. We see this in Lazarus in physical form, but we profess that we have life here and now through faith in Jesus Christ. We are brought from spiritual death to spiritual life through the Holy Spirit leading us to faith in Jesus.
Our life is in a person, and our doctrine is a profession of that person, not just a dis-embodied event!