By Barnabas Piper
Death is final. It is the end—inevitable and unavoidable. Death is the last, worst enemy.
Those of us who are followers of Jesus know that a resurrection will come. We have hope in a future after death, like Mary did when her brother Lazarus died and she said she knew he’d rise again on the last day. That is a comfort, but it does little to remove the sting of death now. In this life, death is an irreversible loss that creates a vacuum in our lives where a person used to be.
But perhaps we misunderstand the resurrection. Maybe the resurrection is not merely an event at some undetermined future time.
Consider these stories.
Jesus was summoned to heal a gravely ill little girl. On His way, He stopped to heal a suffering woman; and when He arrived at the girl’s house, she had already passed. “She is not dead but asleep,” He announced (Matthew 9:24). Then He took her by the hand and raised her more easily than if she had been napping.
On His way to the town of Nain, Jesus passed a funeral procession. The man who had died was the only son of a widow, her caretaker in old age. She was utterly alone. Jesus felt compassion for her, so He spoke a word, and the young man sat up and was reunited with his mother (Luke 7:15). From death to life with a word.
And when Lazarus, Jesus’ dear friend, died, Jesus waited four days to arrive so that God’s glory could be revealed and people could see something essential to Jesus’ person and mission: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
Jesus declares that He is the resurrection. He embodies the resurrection and brings it to us. He gives the resurrection. When Mary offers her meager hope that her brother will rise one day, Jesus declares the resurrection to be something present—someone present.
This all sounds victorious and glorious—which it is—but on His way to the tomb, Jesus wept. He wept with and for the grief of others. He wept at the wreckage death caused. He wept because He knew loss. Then He walked to the tomb and showed death that its days were numbered, uttering, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43).
The resurrection is yet to come. But the resurrection has also already come. It has been proven by Christ’s dismissal of death with words and actions.
Yes, death still hurts. It comes for us all, but we have more than a meager hope in a distant day. We have the resurrection Himself.
Written by Barnabas Piper
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