Jesus said to her, “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. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26 (NRSV)
Jesus says this to Martha in the space between Lazarus’ death and resurrection. We don’t know if Lazarus’ sickness came on suddenly. The sisters may have thought his illness was nothing special. A little rest, some fluids, and he’d be just fine.
However, the situation must have turned quickly for them to send Jesus such an urgent request to come. And it may have been just as quickly that illness turned to death, Lazarus breathed his last, upending Martha and Mary’s world.
We have some experience in this. An illness that seemed like any other gripped us last year. Maybe it was just a bad flu, but it wasn’t. The situation turned quickly into something urgent, and our world was upended. We held our breath.
For this reason, the Resurrection and the Life take on new meaning for us this year. After over year of pandemic isolation, risks, and fears, we are beginning to see the end of our COVID-19 tunnel. In our own way, we have been present at Lazarus’ tomb. But now Jesus has come and
…cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” – John 11:43-44 (NRSV)
For many, the vaccine is like a resurrection. It is our hope to step out of the bubble in which we have been entombed this last year. It is the call to “Come out!” We are unbound, and maybe someday unmasked.
As the virus begins to let us go, we too must step out into the world. Like Lazarus, we breathe in deeply once again with the knowledge that we return to more than life as usual, because it’s not just “life” that is being returned to us, but something new. Like Lazarus, we will experience all that we thought we knew in fresh ways.
- The first hugs and kisses with those from whom we have been separated are more beautiful and loving.
- Everyday things become a marvel, such as getting our hair cut and going to the grocery store — not in a hurried way, but leisurely with the freedom to stop and talk with those we see.
- Live music, theater, and sporting events amaze and move us even more than they did before.
As wonderful as our post-COVID-19 resurrection and life will be, they are only the tiniest foretaste of what Jesus offers. Easter gives us with a new understanding of life and death, of the resurrection and the life. It is more than a vaccine that will require a booster.
Christ the Resurrection, proclaims the permanent defeat of death.
Christ the Life, promises our communion with Jesus in this life and the next.
Today, we celebrate that Jesus has called us out of the tomb, unbound us from our sin, and sends out into the world to share our story with others.
Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, may we come to a fuller understanding of your promises than we ever have before. May we breathe deeply of your grace, filling not only our lungs with air to praise you but also a faith that sustains. Alleluia and Amen.