Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who live and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
It has been a tough year since we last celebrated Easter Sunday. It seems as if there has been more death than life. From the streets of the U.S. to the universities of Kenya, against the mighty wall of the French Alps, to the killing fields of the Middle East, death seems to have had the last word. So it seemed appropriate to consider a scripture passage that speaks about overcoming human death rather than the overcoming of the death of Jesus. Is it possible for us who are only human to hope for life in the midst of death?
Just before Jesus’ anointing and final entry into Jerusalem his good friend Lazarus died. Jesus is too late, or so it seems. It even appeared that Jesus had tarried across the Jordan when he should have come right away and healed Lazarus so that he would not have died. Can’t you just hear the anguish, despair and disappointment in Martha and Mary’s voices when they say to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). Is it not our cry as we see death all around us? Lord if you had been here..…We thought you loved us……Where were you Lord?
Jesus surprises everyone, including Martha and Mary who had complete faith in him but who at that moment doubted. From the stench and finality of death, Jesus calls Lazarus back to life! On this Resurrection Sunday I believe that from the stench of all the death around us Jesus our Lord is reclaiming us for life and redefining even death.
Death is not the master of our lives, nor the terminator of our existence, or the god we are beholden to! We are the children of God who gives us life; the sheep of the Good Shepherd who never abandons us; we are the disciples of our precious Lord who shares our grief and whose tears flow with ours in our time of need! We are the people who have seen the rising of Christ Jesus from death to life! With Lazarus, we come to know that death is only that enemy from which we need to be unbound from and released. Jesus has the power to unbind and release us from even death!
We will die in this life, but we do not have to live bound by death. We can choose life, confident that every time we call out to Jesus he will come with infinite love and abundant life. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” It cost Jesus his own life as he died on a cruel cross to prove those words to us! In faith, affirmed through experience, we believe that Jesus who died on the cross is risen, risen indeed for our sake and the sake of the whole world.
On this Easter Sunday, full of glory and life, our attention needs to go not to all the death around us, but to the life we receive in Christ Jesus, our Risen Lord; life in which we can say to death, “You will not have the last word!” On this day of Resurrection I am praying that we will take the life that God is giving us through Christ Jesus and determine and declare that we will……
God bless you all on this Easter Sunday!
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop
The United Methodist Church