Reassurance - by Greg Steggerda

Sometimes I reread my favorite books. In fact, there are books I may have read eight or ten times in my life. There’s something reassuring about the known; stories can increase in comfort just like old shoes. And almost every time I make connections or notice things that eluded me before. Good literature shows me new things with every stage of my life.

The same thing is true with scripture. For example, this morning I read again the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, a tale so familiar that even non-Christians know it. But this morning, I saw Jesus conversation with Martha a little differently.

During that conversation, in verses 25-26, Jesus makes one of those statements typical of the Gospel of John, small revelations of his true self: “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?’”

Always before I’ve read this as a basic statement of Jesus’ identity as the suffering Messiah, the Savior who would die like a slaughtered Passover lamb so that those of us who believe can be saved.

Today was different. Today I read these verses from a point of mild sadness in my life. I just came back from a vacation with dear relatives who get a little slower every year. Two nights ago I ate supper with good friends, two of whom just successfully came through cancer treatments and one who is part way through that hard road. We discussed other church members who are in medical facilities many states away, struggling through hard prognoses of their own. And this morning, I worshipped in a sanctuary less full that I am used to and missed people who have moved on.

Today I feel a sad melancholy that so many of my relationships are changing, slowing and fading into less vibrant, more pastel images of what they used to be. And today, I hear Jesus ask me as he asks Martha, “Do you believe that I am the life-giver?”

I do, and it changes everything. My sick friends, one and all, consistently honor God with their grateful witness. My aging relatives are steadfastly bound toward glory. Absent church members have their shoulders to the wheels of other ministries. All of us are moving not toward some sort of oblivion but toward rooms reserved for us in our Father’s mansion.
Yes, the people I care about and the relationships I’ve had to let go all show the decay that is part of this sin-filled world. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life; we will have an eternity in his good hands.