“And some of them said, ‘Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?'”
The above statement was made by the Jews who were consoling Mary and Martha after the death of their brother, Lazarus. From this statement, we can observe two things:
- The ability of Our Lord Jesus Christ to heal, as The Great Physician that He is, had become evident to everyone. Healing offered a prevention of death and continuation of physical life through health.
- No one yet understood the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ to raise man from the dead – i.e. grant life to man post death.
God’s plan for the salvation of mankind in the person of Jesus Christ was a plan to raise humanity from death – i.e. grant us life post death. This was the death that entered into the world through the sin of mankind. Through Him, we were made worthy of Life. Since Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we have been made worthy of Him. As Orthodox Christians, we receive His Body and Blood during Holy Communion. We have been restored to one another as the whole Body of Christ. We have also become worthy to receive His Holy Spirit, who is God, and to become one with Him.
I guess, at times, like the Jews in our story, we stay stuck on points 1 and 2 above. We understand that Jesus Christ is our Physician and He can heal our wounds that we acquire in this fallen world. Yet, we may not fully believe that Jesus Christ can grant us life even after we have died – I do not mean physical death here, but I mean sin.
I also do not think that the story of Lazarus was meant to show us that God can raise us from a physical death, although clearly He is able to do that. I think the story of Lazarus was meant to show that the thing we were most helpless towards, physical death, was still under the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Death could not phase Him.
In Psalm 51:14, King David chants in prayer to the Lord saying, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation. And uphold me with Your guiding Spirit.” Since salvation by Our Lord Jesus Christ grants us life post death, then we need to constantly pray the verse above believing the salvation we received is a gift of Life. Jesus has already completed the work required for our salvation. Now, our role is to open our eyes to see what this wonderful gift means in our lives and to rejoice in His salvation.
We have received the gift of life and we are meant to rejoice in it, while being led by the Holy Spirit.
To me, this all means that we need to recognize what we are worth to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Dare I say that the ONLY one who truly love you is Jesus Christ? Yes, I dare say so! Besides the wonderful truth that He made you and knew you even before you were born, He has granted you life even after death, the death that comes with sin.
Even though we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God, often times our dead (i.e. sinful) side becomes more powerful and takes over our thoughts, actions, and words. Then, we sin – a lot. Christ weeps, not because we sin, but because we lose trust in His power to forgive us and raise us from our sins. When we think that sinning makes us permanently dead, Jesus groans in the spirit and is troubled. Jesus wept at Mary’s continued weeping for Lazarus, even after her sister Martha, who believed that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God, caller her. Martha continued to believe that Jesus could not overcome the death of her brother when she talks about the stench in verse 39 of John 11. Both of them and Jews who were with them stayed stuck on point 2.
When we believe that our sins make us unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness, that only saddens Christ and brings Him to tears. Christ’s death and resurrection raise us from the dead, raise us from sin. We are meant to rejoice in this salvation and not be sad because of our sins. We can weep like Christ for our lack of faith in God’s salvation. For this reason, I believe it is good to weep. But, it is not good to weep that we are weak, because we have been granted strength through Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is not good to lament and grieve sin for long periods of time thinking that our grief will change or reverse what we have committed of sins. This is what Martha, Mary, and the Jews did in our story. They wept as if they had no hope!
But we…we have hope! It is a hope that Christ forgives our sins; His forgiveness brings us life – a resurrection from sin. The desert fathers teach us that when we fall, we rise again, then we fall and rise again, then we fall and rise again…as many times as possible. Even at the time of our physical death, we will rise fully through the power of Christ’s resurrection. We will not die in our sins, but we will rise instead if we accept that salvation is from the Lord. So, the most basic requirement is that we receive the gift of the resurrection and believe that God wants us to live and not die.
As we continue to live, we need to continue to believe that God made us worthy of Life, of Him, through His Son – Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This salvation is enough reason to rejoice, always!