Psalm of Praise: Psalms 47:5-7
God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
Bible Reading: John 11:21-27
"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
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?"
"Yes, Lord," she replied, "I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Lazarus was sick. Mary and Martha sent for Jesus but before he arrived Lazarus died. I have some sympathy with Martha’s words, ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died’.
Our daughter Anna was sick. Many people prayed for her and she received healing for a time but, after three years, she became ill again and died. Anna could have been healed; there could have been a successful treatment for brain tumours, as no doubt there will be one day. God could have healed her through a miracle. But there wasn’t and he didn’t.
There are many ‘What ifs’ and ‘If onlys’ in life and many unanswered questions. Jesus had told his disciples that Lazarus’ sickness would bring glory to God. There are some things for which we may not get answers this side of heaven, but there will be answers and ultimately God will be glorified.
Jesus did in fact go on to raise Lazarus from the dead, but the message from his conversation with Martha is that whoever believes in Jesus will live, even though they die. Death is one of the certainties of life. Resurrection is one of the certainties of faith.
Having said to Martha, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die,’ Jesus goes on to say to her, and to us, ‘Do you believe this?’
Over the years I’ve heard some strange claims about the dead from people for whose loved ones I have taken a funeral. These include ‘He’s up there looking down on us’, ‘She’s a star looking down on us’, ‘He’s sitting on a star, looking down on us’, plus many who believe it’s just ‘lights out’.
Why should we believe anything different? Why should we believe anything at all? The answer is because, like Martha, we can say, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are the resurrection and the life
for all who put their faith in you.
This I believe.