JOHN 11:23-27: “Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: What is Christmas to you? I often ponder this question as this time of year rolls around. As decorations go up, the stores are filled with festive gifts, and our calendar begins to fill up with so many get-togethers and activities, it is easy to forget what Christmas is all about. If we are not careful…
Christmas becomes an event!
I think in my spare time I could become a screenwriter for Christmas movies. They usually have these things in common. First, there is a person who is in a relationship that is going nowhere. Then, there is an opportunity to go back to where they grew up and magically they meet someone from their past whom they have not seen in years. And, finally, they begin to fall in love as they work together to put on a special Christmas event for their hometown. Sound familiar?
Okay, personal confession. I still enjoy these predictable movies. Yet, they reveal a common trap that we all fall into. We begin to focus on the event of Christmas and miss the revelation of Christmas. As I was reading this familiar passage about the death of Lazarus it struck me. We don’t do this only at Christmas. Rather, we do this in every area of our life.
We miss the moment as we focus on the event!
Mary and Martha had just lost their beloved brother Lazarus. When Jesus heard of this news he delayed his journey to see Mary and Martha by two days. Then, Jesus and His disciples traveled back to Judea to see Lazarus. By the time He arrived, Lazarus had been dead and buried in the tomb for four days. Jesus knew God has a greater purpose in this situation than merely praying for Lazarus to get better. Jesus was going to show His victory over death as He would raise Lazarus from the dead.
When Jesus arrived, Martha went out to meet Him. Martha was focused on the event and not the moment. She had just witnessed the event of her brother’s death. She had been there when they placed him in the tomb. Filled with sorrow she says to Jesus – “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus answers her with the purpose of His delayed visit.
- “Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Yet, once again, Martha is focused on the event. Martha replies,
- “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
When we only focus on the event we miss God’s possibility, promise, and purpose in life. Jesus came to Martha with words of hope and life. Martha could only see some future event that would take place. She could not see the connection between Jesus’ words and her current situation. I think this is what happens to most of us during the Christmas season. We get so busy, and so stressed out with events, that we really do not enjoy the season. We miss the very reason we should be celebrating.
I love how Jesus responds to Martha. He does not rebuke her (and he does not rebuke us when we get our priorities confused). Jesus looks into Martha’s confused and hurting eyes and He points her to the reality that is standing right before her.
- “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.“
I believe Jesus is standing before each one of us this Christmas season. He is calling us to remember who He is, why He came, and what He desires to do in our life – right now! Jesus is our resurrection and our life – right now! Life is not an event, a future promise, delayed until the final resurrection. Jesus is life. Jesus is resurrection. And, this life begins the moment we place our faith in Him.
Jesus came to invade the power and darkness of death in the life of all those who would believe. Yes, we have the hope of eternal life. Yet, we also have the promise of an abundant life – now, in this present time. Christmas is not about events, celebrations, and gatherings. As much as I enjoy all of these, Christmas is about life! Jesus is the source of this life!
And, this life is not an event, it is a person! It is Jesus!
So, as I think about these things, I put myself in Martha’s shoes. Jesus comes to me this Christmas season. He confronts my misplaced priorities and I hear Him say,
- “Do you believe this?”
With Martha, I choose to say…“Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Lord, forgive me for the times when I allow the business of this season to misplace my priorities. Help me to enjoy all the events but always keep my focus on You! Let me hear Your words speaking to my heart…
- “I am the resurrection and the life…” (Right Now!)
In Jesus’ Name!