Anglican Watch

On resurrection

Lazarus raised from the dead

A favorite line among my fellow clergy is, “We are a resurrection people.” That’s true, but it seems to me that misses an important point. In every instance, living into resurrection requires some action on pur part.

In other words, without action there’s no resurrection.

Consider the story of Lazarus, the beloved friend of Jesus.

Following Lazarus’ death, his body was placed in a tomb.

Four days later, Jesus comes to the tomb. He tells Martha, Lazarus’ sister, to remove the stone at the entrance to the tomb.

At this point, Martha’s having a tough time. She loves Jesus, and she believes him.

But she’s also looking reality square in the eye and objects, saying, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

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

So they remove the stone, and Jesus calls Lazarus forth from the dead.

In doing so, Jesus gives us a foretaste of resurrection.

But even as we marvel that Jesus calls Lazarus back from the dead, we often miss a key part of the story: Others made the situation possible through their actions.

We see Martha and Mary, sharing news of their brother’s death. We see the apostles traveling with Jesus. We see people moving away the stone in front of the tomb.

Even when Lazarus is called back from the dead, Jesus asks those with him to remove Lazarus’ grave clothes.

Could Jesus have called Lazarus back from the dead without anyone’s help? We know the answer is yes.

But did Jesus resurrect Lazarus on his own? No, he didn’t.

We get a hint of why Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus on his own when he tells the disciples before setting off on the journey to Lazarus’ tomb, “and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”

In other words, it’s through our actions that we become a resurrection people. Resurrection happens regardless, but becoming a resurrection people involves us taking action.

And we can take things a step further. For instance, what about the people who cared for Lazarus before his death? Or those who prepared him for burial? They all played roles in this amazing drama, even though they didn’t know it at the time.

So as we walk together, we need to remember our own role in being a resurrection people. Our role includes not just our faith, but our actions as we follow the Risen Christ.

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