Updated: Mar 30, 2020
C.S. Lewis once wrote about coming to terms with the reality of death. Talking about his friend named Mr. Johnson he said, “Nothing could have changed my idea of death more than Johnson did simply by dying. When the idea of Johnson and the idea of death met in my mind, it was the idea of death that had changed.” Death breaks into this life like an unwelcome visitor. It pours itself a bowl of cereal, sits down on the couch, and puts its feet up on the table.
"Death breaks into this life like an unwelcome visitor. It pours itself a bowl of cereal, sits down on the couch, and puts its feet up on the table."
Jesus goes to a funeral in our Gospel today. He speaks with two grieving women. They have lost their brother Lazarus. Death has broken into their home and taken him away. They know Jesus could have prevented it if he had been there. So sad, and yet their mood could be described as confident.
Several times during his time here on earth, Jesus used “I AM" phrases to describe himself.
Several times during his time here on earth, Jesus used “I AM" phrases to describe himself. It calls the reader back to the burning bush in Exodus and Moses nervously asking, “Who should I say sent me?” And the voice of God responds, “Tell them I AM sent you.” It’s sort of like when football players refer to themselves as having gone to “The” Ohio State University. That’s supposed to set them apart. By calling himself “I AM” Jesus is setting himself apart from everyone else, from all those who would claim to be god, and he’s declaring himself to be the God who is, the God who was, the God who always will be. “I AM the resurrection and the life, the one who drives away physical and spiritual death. I AM the giver of life, life eternal. I AM the Christ, the one God chose to break the power of death.” Jesus asks, "Do you believe this?" How do Mary and Martha respond to this mind-bending and life-changing promise of God? They say, "Yes, I do believe." You see, even though their hearts and minds were struggling through a winter of grief, the flowers of hope were still stubbornly starting to come up.
...we believe in I AM, the breaker of death. The grave was no match for Jesus.
As news reports around the world make us consider death in the way C.S. Lewis mentioned above, it's important that we go back to places in the Bible like this. To remember that we believe in I AM, the breaker of death. The grave was no match for Jesus. He pulled Lazarus out of its clutches without a fight. Not longer after that, he walked out of his own tomb. And so hope springs eternal. No matter how long the winter of fear and anxiety rages around us, the flowers of hope are still stubbornly starting to come up in our hearts and minds. "Yes, I do believe, Jesus."