sexta-feira, 20 de fevereiro de 2015

LIFE IN DEATH


“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep;
but I am going there to wake him up.”

John 11:11 (read 11:1-45) NIV

Death is a major concern of human beings - the biggest challenge and deepest mystery. Nature shows that it is inevitable and irreversible and is always followed by chaos and decay. We resist this fatality in our existence. We cannot beat it physically, so we appeal to faith. By faith Christians affirm the resurrection.

The story of Lazarus does not provide a definitive answer before the mystery and the certainty of death. His resurrection was temporary, only delaying his final death. The healings and miracles of Jesus only postponed physical death. They were not a release from it. No doubt Lazarus died again and is buried until this day.

This episode described in John's Gospel is about the power of life. Its value lies in the claim that death does not eliminate life. Even with death, life goes on. The dimensions of life and death are far beyond our understanding. Life and death are governed by a higher power. The same power that created life also created death. Both are the order of existence.

Death need not be feared, because it is only the dark side of life. Victory over death is not its elimination but the realization that it, too, is subject to a higher power. Jesus is presented as the Lord of everything, including death.

Without this vision we see death as a tragic evil, and life as a struggle against death. Death is seen as an enemy to be resisted as long as we have the strength to do so.

Jesus injected another factor into the polarity between life and death, love. Love is above life and death. Through love, Jesus gave himself to death, demonstrating that death can be part of life. Our fear of death may lead us to a selfish life style of self-defense and self-promotion. It can make us value our own life above the life of others.

Fear casts out love. This is the opposite of the biblical passage: 1 John 4:18 which says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear….The one who fears is not made perfect in love." Our fear of death takes away our ability to love. Love can be "dangerous" in that it has no fear in facing death situations. Real love requires courage, because it can lead us to expose ourselves to death.

We live in a culture that denies death. This denial of death leads us to a frantic search to preserve our own life and distances us from love. It opens the door to injustice, corruption and violence. Each one defends his or her “piece-of-cake” while ignoring the collective well-being. Even religion becomes the search for personal salvation and individual prosperity. The irony is that this denial promotes chaos and moral degeneration which promotes the death which it strives to avoid. A selfish pursuit of life promotes premature death and is not redemptive.

The story of Jesus' resurrection is a statement that death does not eliminate life and that love includes both. Death is part of life and life includes death.

 

John 11:1-45 – New International Version (NIV)

THE DEATH OF LAZARUS

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Then Thomas (also known as Didymus said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

THE PLOT TO KILL JESUS

Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

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