Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The road between life and death

Today’s Reading: John 11:13-16 (NIV)

13 Jesus had been speaking of [Lazarus] death but His disciples thought He meant natural sleep. 14 So then He told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Good morning!

I remember the day we laid my grandfather to rest. Grandpa had lived a long life, and his last ten years were riddled with physical and emotional infirmities. Hardening of the arteries coupled with dementia made the last days of his earthly existence extraordinarily difficult for all who loved and cared for him. As my father and his siblings stood around the casket, holding hands and wiping their tear-streaked faces with handkerchiefs, I began to wonder about the mystery of life and death. I was twelve years old and my grandfather was gone. For me, death had taken on a whole new meaning. This time, it was personal.

Jesus knew his friend Lazarus had succumbed to the illness he had battled. He knew that his sisters were grieving, that the neighborhood was mourning the loss of a well-respected member of their community. Jesus realized if he went to Bethany to be with Lazarus, he would place himself in the firing line of the Pharisees who wanted to have Him arrested for blasphemy. Still, the Master went, knowing a great miracle was about to be fulfilled in the presence of the people.

At some point, all of us struggle with losing the ones we love. We wonder about the greater purpose of our days. We wonder if and how our lives might be remembered after we’re gone. Where did Lazarus go when he moved from illness into eternal rest? Will we see him again? How would his sisters survive without him physically present to help care for their needs?

Thomas recognized the Lord's great risk in returning to Bethany. He exclaimed, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” As we begin to ask the harder questions about life and death, we become like Thomas, knowing that one day, we too will die. Do you have His assurance of salvation? Thanks to Jesus Christ, for we do not have to walk the road between life and death all by ourselves. He understands our grief when we lose the ones we love to death. We can have His assurance of salvation today: all you have to do is ask Him for it.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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