Back in college I remember talking with a stranger about whether or not Jesus will return one day.
The guy was from a different faith, one I had never really heard of before. So, he explained to me how their main prophet fulfills the Second Coming of Christ. In their faith, they see the prophet fulfilling Jesus’s final return in a metaphorical way.
I pressed for more detail, so he took out a large colored pamphlet with pictures of their holy sites. I lean in, curious. He points to a large, domed building and says, “That’s where he is buried.”
“You mean your prophet?”
Then I thought to myself, How could that be Jesus? What good is a dead Messiah?
With that, let’s return to the story of Lazarus…
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
John 11:23-27 (NIV)
The Living King
Yesterday, we tackled the huge theme of the Resurrection at the Last Day. Many 1st century Jews believed in the literal return of the Messiah and the Resurrection of the dead.
But Jesus makes the most stunning claim any person could make: “I am the resurrection and the life.”
This word for “life” is used elsewhere when John talks about eternal life offered from the Father. It’s the life we are rescued into, from our sin, by the blood of Christ.
Thankfully, our faith has no dead messiahs. I do not say this to be pejorative or to demean other faiths. But to believe a dead prophet fulfills the Second Coming of Jesus is like saying you can have a cookies-n-creme milkshake but without the Oreos and vanilla ice cream. Just pretend it’s there in the glass.
Metaphors are great for poetry, but they won’t save us in the end.
The Present Reality. Our Future Hope
Jesus also revealed the present reality to Martha, that the One who offers Life at the Resurrection was standing right there in front of her.
Keep in mind, though, Jesus had not yet died on the cross nor risen from the grave. Still, Martha dives in with full belief: “You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
The Life had come. The Resurrection approached. The Son of God stood before her.
What happens next will confirm this present reality of Jesus and confirm our future hope in Him.
Missed a day of the Lazarus story? Click here to see all posts in this series and others that discuss the Resurrection.
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