A Note from Josh – College & Center Newsletters, February 2020

Do you know the story of Lazarus? John writes about Lazarus in his gospel (chapter 11). Lazarus is sick. Some people tell Jesus, and instead of rushing to save him, Jesus waits around, and Lazarus dies. When Jesus doesn’t show up, both of Lazarus’ sisters tell Jesus, “If you would have been here, our brother wouldn’t have died.” How many of us can relate to that sentiment? “God, if you would have been here, this terrible thing couldn’t have happened.” That is a topic for another time . . . Jesus gets emotional at the scene. Jesus cries. Then, he has the stone rolled away from the tomb and calls Lazarus from his grave to life. Lazarus walks out with the linen clothes still on him. It is one wild story.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead? Assuming that guy isn’t still walking around this world 2000 plus years later, he must have died again. That would have been quite the death, or second death I suppose. Once you invite this sort of thought around Jesus’ miracles, you can start to wonder about other miracles. Like, why did Jesus feed the 5,000? It was only one meal, surely they would have gotten hungry again. This thought makes me want to ask Jesus if he is familiar with a sustainable ministry model. These questions make me want to ask Jesus, “Don’t you know that it’s better to teach someone how to fish so they can feed themselves for a lifetime?”

Andy Root, a guy I met in seminary, speaks to these questions by saying, “The point isn’t that Lazarus was resurrected, but what his resurrection means. His resurrection is the puncturing of this reality of death with a sign of the coming of God’s new reality, the coming of God’s kingdom.” Root goes on to explain that Jesus wants his disciples to experience the act of Lazarus’ resurrection so that they might believe. Not that he wants them to ascend to some cognitive understanding, but to “taste the new reality, to recognize that as Jesus’ disciples they were participating in the very action of God to bring forth the future of God. Jesus wants them to taste so they might believe, might trust, in God’s action to bring forth the new reality.” By being part of this resurrection moment, the disciples participate in God’s Kingdom come.

This is why we participate in one off opportunities. This is why we might give someone on the street our leftovers. This is why we go to places like Panther, West Virginia for one week in the summer. This is why when we get the opportunity, if only for a moment, week, or season, we participate in God’s Kingdom. Because we get a chance to participate in God’s new reality, now, as one day it shall be. We don’t waste those opportunities. Amen? Amen.

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