Raising someone (or something) to life again … now that’s a showcase of God’s energy! We have the potential to experience a new kind of life. Resurrection life. In the now!
Lazarus was seriously sick. He then died.
He was in the grave for 4 days. When Jesus finally came, he said to his sister, “Your brother will rise again.”
What Martha didn’t know was that Jesus was ready to radically shift the way she saw things.
“I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day,” she said.
But Jesus wasn’t talking about the last day … He was in the moment with Martha’s pain and need.
And he was ready to see the glory of the Father put on display.
Jesus re-frames our understanding
So much of the work Jesus does in us is to help us see in a new and living way—to truly believe.
Martha’s thinking about resurrection life was narrow and reserved only for the future. If we’re honest, it’s the same for most of us.
But with Jesus, the powers of the age to come break into our time.
Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. —N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
The writer of Hebrews says we can be enlightened, taste the heavenly gift, partake of the Holy Spirit, and taste the good word of God and the powers of the age to come (Hebrews 6:4-5).
Tasting the “powers of the age to come” is an extraordinary potential. Could it be that this is meant to be the normal (not average) Christian life?
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” It’s a now statement. Jesus wants Martha to realize the resurrection is already on!
Invest time in John 11:17-44. The ministry acts of Jesus in the Gospels model for us what’s possible in our experience.
Right here. Resurrection life now.
“Take away the stone.”
“Lord, by this time …”
“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
Having prayed to his Father, Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth!” And Lazarus came up and out!
Yes, the complete consummation of Jesus’ kingdom is yet to come. But he has already inaugurated his kingdom. New possibilities are present.
Right here. Right now.
And this includes foretastes of resurrection life!
Jesus: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Wherever there is repentance (changing the mind, and changing our approach to life), authentic kingdom life is available.
On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn. —G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
The resurrection is already on!
The resurrection is not just for the future as Martha thought. Resurrection life comes in progressive phases.
- Amazingly, bodily resurrections occurred in the Old Testament. And this, under a covenant which Paul says is inferior to the New Covenant! See 2 Corinthians 3:7-11. These incidents were precursors to resurrection life in our time, the time of the New Covenant.
- Christ wants his followers to raise the dead. Jesus sent the twelve on a mission. “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand (has drawn near). Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7-8 NAS). Christ means for this mission-mandate to be for his full-on followers until he comes again. That includes today’s Christ-followers!
- When Jesus yielded up his spirit on the cross, the veil in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. There was an earthquake. Rocks were split and graves opened. Resurrection life was bursting forth even as Jesus died.
- As Jesus was raised, so much life hit the earth that many saints were also raised and came out of the tombs! They appeared to many in Jerusalem. See Matthew 27:50-53.
- People were raised from the dead in the Book of Acts. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-42). He followed the same faith template Jesus used to raise the daughter of Jarius. Paul raised Eutychus to life again (Acts 20:9-12).
- People have been raised from the dead since the times of the New Testament, including our day.
Jesus give the Spirit without measure
If I’m born again, the Holy Spirit lives within me. But the Holy Spirit can fill me in greater measure … “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34). I can seek fresh in-fillings of the Spirit (see Ephesians 5:18).
The Word is primary
I want to pursue consistent, fresh intake of the Word of God. God magnifies his Word according to (or above) his name! (Psalm 138:2). If His Word has this priority with Him, and if he really does nothing apart from his Word, then I should give it prime time and energy in my life! It transforms our worldview.
The release of our spirit
A great Chinese Bible teacher, Watchman Nee, wrote of the release of the spirit. He wrote of the crust in our soul life which can limit the release of the Spirit’s potential through us. The Apostle Paul said it was with his spirit that he served God. I resolve to pursue a course of sanctification and wholeness in my experience.
Am I entertaining bad theology?
Early in our Christian experience, we tend to carry the DNA of the denomination or doctrinal system which influenced us. If we discover that it’s limiting, are we going to stay in that state of belief for a lifetime? Honor everything which is good about your past. But be true to the modeling and words of Jesus. We should always be growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18).
Do I have a strong desire to see the glory of God manifested here and now?
The power of God trumps the effects of the Fall—sin, sickness and disease, lack, breakdown of relationships. Even death itself. You have to want it! Pursue outrageous, radical belief.
The complete realization of the resurrection life of Christ will come in the future, like Martha was thinking.
But can you believe it’s already here as a foretaste of what is to come? And that Jesus means for us to live accordingly?
What can this mean for you? For what you influence? Will you see greater measures of the glory of God?