Romans 8:38-39 - For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I love the conversation between Martha and Jesus that's recorded in John 11—on the day He comes to her home late after her brother has already died. It starts with what sounds like blame—"Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." Yet Martha can't resist adding a hint for a favor so outrageous she won't ask it directly: "Even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You."
Jesus is no fool. He knows what she's asking, and He responds directly: "Your brother will rise again." Careful, cautious Martha isn't sure what she's hearing: "I know that He will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Is that what You mean, Jesus? Are You just offering me a religious platitude about hope in the distant future, far, far away? Or are You offering me something real and firm, right now?
Martha is afraid to hope—and yet she does. She is afraid to ask for what she wants—and yet she asks, though indirectly. Martha is just like us, isn't she? We have our hopes and worries. We have our fears and doubts. And we approach God, hoping, praying—nervous, perhaps, about asking at all.
Jesus settles Martha's concern directly. It doesn't matter whether the resurrection is today or in the far distant future; Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:25-26). The resurrection from the dead is a person, who is right here walking and talking to you. It is not a distant hope. It is as close as Jesus Himself.
Those who have died in the Lord are with Christ, right now (see Philippians 1:23). They are not lost or far away. They are living even now in the care of the one who rose from the dead Himself (see Luke 20:38). Our Shepherd Jesus knows the way through death. None of His people will be left behind in death. He has promised to share His victory and life with us all.
THE PRAYER: Lord, help us to hope in You when we face death. Amen.
When have you asked God for a favor?
What important thing are you praying and hoping for right now?
How does it help you to know that Jesus himself is our resurrection, and will shepherd us through death?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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