Resurrections Before the Cross
Whatever one believes about death, this is the season when it surrounds us. This season emphasizes it. Front yards are decorated with skeletons, spiders and spider webs. Some of those bones, approaching two stories high, tower over neighborhoods. Sheets hang from trees to mimic ghosts. As consumerism in our society focuses on death and the undead around every corner, one might wonder what death actually is.
Medical science states that there are different definitions of death. According to Medical Advice Channel, clinical death occurs when the heart and breathing stop. It is at this point that CPR may be administered and someone may be revived. Some would describe this process as being brought back from the dead. The window between clinical death and biological death can be very brief, a matter of several minutes without medical assistance. Biological death occurs when brain functions cease and there is no chance of resuscitation. No matter what Halloween can cause us to imagine, biological death is irreversible.
Except when God intervenes.
Throughout the Old Testament we see Moses, Lazarus, and even children biologically die, only for them to reappear later on as if nothing had happened.
If we were to see things like this occur today, some might question what actually happened. They might grapple over the definitions of death. Were the allegedly deceased just biologically dead or were they resuscitated from clinical death?
In these Biblical instances, the time frame, especially for Lazarus, was far beyond the few minutes that elapses between clinical and biological death. He was biologically dead. But is parsing out two different deaths the only point of these stories?
Apart from the theme of being raised from the dead, there appears to be no common thread pulling these Old Testament individuals together. All are not important leaders as was Moses. All are not children, precious to their parents. All are not important breadwinners providing for their families. The commonality comes rather in the compassion of a loving God to answer the prayer or request of loved ones who are hurting from loss.
You may struggle as you read these stories because you have experienced the pain of losing a family member or friend. While you look forward with hope to the resurrection at Jesus’ return, you are left with the feelings of loss and loneliness. You may even dare to remark like Martha, “Lord, if you had been here…”
How does one grapple with enormous loss when some have been saved from similar hurt? The question applies to more than being raised from the dead. What about cancer treatment that proves to be effective in one person and unsuccessful in another? Again, one might state along with Martha, “Lord, if you had been there…” If you had only been here, Lord.
The reality is God is here. God is with us in the pain, the process, and in the promise of a world where there is no more pain, no more tears, no more death.
Connecting: Think about who you want to see in the resurrection. Share with someone who you are looking forward to seeing again when Jesus comes
Sharing: Look over the story of Lazarus once again (John 11:1-44). While in some portions of the story Jesus may seem uncaring or dismissive, can the passage show the behavior was, in actuality, planned to help people understand?
1. When Jesus received the request to come to Lazarus, the delay could have seemed uncaring
2. In the delay, Jesus had a plan to help people understand the truth about death
3. By waiting, Jesus dispelled any question about Lazarus not really being dead
4. Jesus shared that there was a resurrection that would not result in death
5. When Jesus wept, it showed His love and compassion for us
Applying: You may know someone who could use a visit, a note, a card, or a listening ear as they grieve a loss. Ask God to use you to bring encouragement to someone.