“Y’know, if you’d done it the way I had it planned out in my script—-“
Unless you’re Biblically challenged, you know the whole Mary and Martha saga when it seemed like Jesus carelessly hung fire until their brother, Lazarus, died. The two sisters were messed up, each in their own way, at this close family friend being so strange and not coming to them immediately at the news his friend was gravely sick.
You saw what I did there. That ‘gravely’ part will figure in this article.
Martha The Reasonable heard Jesus and The Lads were coming, so she headed East on Route 1 to intercept him before the bunch could reach Bethany. It’s a trip of a couple of miles, and on foot it wasn’t a bad side trip. Perhaps there was a C & D service center where Martha and Jesus visited. Whether they did that, or just sauntered along chatting, somewhere along the road from Jerusalem Martha and Jesus had the whole convo mentioned above. You’ll find it in John 11.
It was in the middle of that discussion about dying and living again Jesus dropped the verbal grenade that rearranged Martha’s theological real estate, and forever changed the way EV-rybody would think about him. He said:
“I AM the resurrection . . .”
Jesus of Nazareth said it. From the time he was 30, he’d done some unexpected stuff that made likers and haters squinch their eyebrows. He did things defiant of natural, observable, explainable physical laws. This presented some challenges to the haters.
They knew the Jews were ripe for revolution; all they needed was the right fuse. Talk to any of them and they’d tell you: the lockdown mandated by Rome would be over soon. Freedom was around the corner and life was gonna be great again. “You’ll see!” No one was sure what that would look like. Yet they all agreed: it was their time.
When the haters huddled together watching Jesus do weird stuff like healing terminally sick people and the water into best-vintage wine thing, they knew they had to act. Time for talking was over. Now Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t just teaching and speechifying about things ruinous to the haters’ decades-long scheming. Jesus was doing things with unexplained, effortless power, making people believe he could make a difference in their personal lives.
The haters couldn’t stop it from happening. Though the popular news blabbermouths they controlled tried to explain away Jesus’s miracles, their explanations were so lame and transparent they kept promising to circle back with the crowds – but didn’t because they couldn’t. Jesus of Nazareth had become so destructive to their agenda they knew they had to do something.
The Likers cheered and said their hope had come.
The Haters sneered and said their nemesis had to go.
Jesus of Nazareth blew them all up when he said through Martha to us, “I AM the Resurrection.“
Neither Likers nor Haters could wrap their minds around what to do with that. In this cosmic, intergalactic, world-changing, mind-and-spirit-bending game of Ultimate Plink-O, Jesus of Nazareth’s token wasn’t falling in any of the “right” places.
The Likers did their best to support him – confusedly.
The Haters did their best to export him – permanently.
Neither knew what to do with Jesus of Nazareth. They hadn’t a clue how to take him, and they REALLY weren’t ready for his ‘him’ to transform into “HIM” . . .
A tame Jesus suddenly wasn’t – ISN’T – anymore.
And that’s a problem.
A mere carpenter from Nazareth was nothing. Who’d listen to—-? Well, yeah. It was the stuff He did. He never broke a sweat doing any of it, either. Jesus was almost daily proving his HIMness by what he did, right out there where lampmakers, shepherds, physicians, builders, seamstresses and merchants watched Him do it. The Haters screamed and yelled to distract and try to ‘splain it away, but the common folks were tired of being treated as dummies and were having none of it.
And they had the nerve to sit at HIS feet, instead of auditing the classes of the temple priests and Sanhedrin know-it-alls like good little Jews should. After all, hadn’t they been teaching about the Meshiah for centuries? So who does this . . . this woodworker think he is?
Jesus didn’t leave them hanging. “Resurrection? Tha-a-at would be ME.”
John 11:40ff – Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Then, to the others, “Go ahead, take away the stone.” They removed the stone. Jesus raised His eyes to Heaven and prayed… Then He shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out… “Jesus told them, Unwrap him and let him loose.”
Back to the ‘gravely’ part. The 12 Lads and a bunch of others were standing there with lower jaws dragging pavement because they just observed Jesus raise a man from stinky death to vibrant, Old Spice life. You’d think when the Haters impeached Jesus and set him up for death, THIS crowd would be in the vanguard of total-believing Likers, surrounding Jesus. Right?
So where were they?
Ah-ah? Don’t be so quick to judge them. You’ve had at least one Bible that’s choke-full of what we all consider miracles that Jesus has done. And if you’re into your adult years, I’d guess you are the grateful beneficiary of at least one miraculous work the risen and soon-returning Jesus has worked out in your life. So, how are you doing in the “I’ll never deny you, Master?” category?
Here’s the deal: this same Jesus has been spending our Time sitting beside God, interceding for you and me.
Yeah, seriously. Jesus the Christ, 2nd Person of God’s trinity, took up Ultimate Law when He returned to Heaven. Right now, He’s sitting at God’s side in the Court of the Universe, mediating for every one of us who’s accepted His offer of forgiveness and blessing in exchange for our repentance and choice to follow Him. I could give you several references, but it will mean more if you search them out on your own. Look for different forms of ‘intercede’ and ‘mediate’.
Okay, here’s a little taste… “All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the Universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from His rule. And not just the the time being, but *forever*. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the Church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” ~ Ephesians 1:20-23, The Message, Eugene Peterson
That’s the Jesus Whose rising from death we will celebrate tomorrow, and whose return we will also consider as we observe our world. I wish for you and yours a safe, wonderful, memorable Easter Sunday.
Lovi—- What? Oh. Right.
Lucinda in Geneva-On-The-Lake, Ohio reminded me to explain the ‘C & D’ service center.
Camel and Donkey. Simple, right?
I know you’re SO glad you asked.
Loving you, Dan.
© d. dean boone, april 2021