Sunday, April 2, 2017
My Lord says ... John 11:1-45
1Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” 4When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” 12So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” 13But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. 14So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. 15And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” 16So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” 17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. 19And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” 24Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me,
even if he dies, will live,
26and everyone who lives and believes in me
will never die.
Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” 28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” 29As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. 30For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. 31So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, 34and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” 35And Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” 37But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” 38So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. 42I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” 45Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
Probably you have read and heard from others’ stories that they had experienced death either caused by accident or illnesses. They said their spirit went to another dimension where they didn’t know where that place was. They all have one common experience -- seeing magnificent colorful lights. As they walked through that long straight endless tunnel, they heard a majestic voice telling them to return because it wasn’t their time yet. After experiencing death and went back to their physical bodies, it made them realized that death is not something to be afraid of.
When I told my friend about this story, she told me that she had her own kind of experience about death. One morning at 7 o'clock, she woke up to bottle feed her more than one year old baby. She stood up and went to the side table where all the feeding bottles were. While she was preparing the milk, the next thing happened was total blackout. She didn’t even know what really happened, till she heard her husband’s voice calling her name. He told her that he was awakened by a sudden noise and saw her lying already on the floor. The milk powder and hot water were spilled on the table and floor. He said her body was straight and heavy, but he tried to put her back on bed. He said he couldn’t feel her breathing anymore and even no pulse at all. She regained her consciousness only after 10 minutes of her husband’s calling her name and shaking her body. He was terrified for he doesn’t know how to conduct a CPR. She said she has no health problems or even had been hospitalized due to an illness or had past experiences of collapsing in just an instance like that. So she believed she didn’t have to go to a doctor for consultation. She also said that she felt nothing afterwards, never saw any colorful lights, and never heard a majestic voice telling her to return to her body, except her husband’s. Until now, it never occurred to her again and that experience has been a puzzle to her.
Different stories of life to cite, but one thing is common -- each one of us has his or her own "timeline." Life is full of challenges and struggles. When one is confronted with a problem and doesn’t know how to deal with it, he or she either tries to commit suicide or face the challenge. Either way, death occurs to everybody and can be viewed in two different ways—physical and spiritual. Physically alive, but spiritually dead. Physically dead, but spiritually alive. For whoever believes in Jesus, even if he dies, will live and everyone who lives and believes in Him, will never die. God is truly amazing!!!
"I will sing of your salvation. In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God from my youth. On you I depend my birth; from my mother's womb, you are my strength. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds."
Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a