Death surrounds us. Try as we might ignore it, it is always there staring us in the face with a piercing and unbroken gaze. Everywhere we turn, we are confronted with its reality. However, there are times in life, when we are forced to deal with it head-on. There are times when we must stare back into its cold eyes. The loss of a loved one, the diagnosis we never expected, or the reality of another crisis in our world are examples of death interrupting life. As people, we do not deal with it well. I guess this makes sense since we were not originally designed to die. Death is the tragic and painful result of sin coming into our world. Since our ancestors took that fateful bite into the fruit we have lived in a universal dichotomy of dying every day that we live. Yet, it is when we confront death, that we must have answers.
This is powerfully illustrated in Martha’s encounter with Jesus in John chapter 11. Her brother had just died and with eyes full of tears she stares back into death’s face and screams, “Why?” Then she turns to Jesus and asks the same. Maybe you have asked this question? She asks, “Why Lord, why weren’t You here? You could have stopped this! You are stronger. You could have stopped death.” In her voice, you can hear the searing pain of someone who was not ready. Are we ever really ready? Death had interrupted life. However, it is Jesus’ reply to her that changes everything!
Initially, He simply says, “Your brother will rise again” (verse 23 NKJV). This is a reminder, that her brother was not gone forever. We as people are eternal. Jesus was reminding her (and us) that this life is not all there is, that there is life after we die here and that she would see her brother again. Martha knew this. Though, in her pain and for a moment, she may have forgotten these great truths. His words brought her back and she replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection (of the dead) at the last day” (verse 24 NKJV). Yet, it is what Jesus says next that tells us everything we need to hear concerning death.
He says to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (verses 25-26 NKJV). To understand what Jesus is saying we must understand that according to God, death is not when our bodies stop functioning and we breathe our last. That is only physical and temporal death. According to God, real death is separation from Him. It is death spiritually and eternally. When we understand this, then we understand how Jesus can say, “Though he may die, he shall live and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”We all die physically and temporally, but we do not have to die spiritually and eternally. In fact, the promise that Jesus makes to Martha and to us is that by believing in Him we can “live” after we have died. You could say, we will not die after we die. The promise is that we will not be separated from Him after we pass from this life but rather, will live with Him forever! That is the blessed assurance that the King of Heaven makes to any and all that would turn to Him to be saved.
Therefore, it ends with a question. A question that is asked to every single person who has ever lived. “Do you believe this?” Martha answers in verse 27, “Yes, Lord. I believe that You are the Christ (Savior), the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” How about you?