Jesus’ resurrection gives us strength for the present day and hope for the future.
“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11: 25).
Someday there will be a resurrection for every Christ follower. Someday the dead will rise from the dust. Someday heaven will come to earth as every knee bows and tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. Someday…
We all have hopes for someday. Someday my kids will sleep past 6:00 AM. Someday the ratio of exercise clothes I own and exercising that I do will be proportionate. Someday I’ll find balance in my life. Someday I’ll be kind to myself. Someday…
But our hopes for someday don’t usually look anything like our lives today.
In John 11, rumors were circulating that Jesus of Nazareth had turned water into wine in Cana and fed a crowd of 5,000 on the hillside and healed a man who was born blind. Celebration with new wine, the hungry being fed, the blind receiving sight; these were the promises that God would fulfill someday. Could this Jesus be the one who was promised? Could someday finally be here?
And then, for Mary and Martha, tragedy pushed away thoughts of someday and brought the reality of today crashing into view. Lazarus died. Once again darkness consumed light, death swallowed up life and someday felt much too far away.
Jesus tells the grieving Martha, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). Here we go again, she thinks. More promises locked away for someday. “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day,” Martha replies (11:24). But Martha wasn’t asking Jesus to reassure her about someday – she already had that hope. She was confronting Him with her very present pain of today. Her brother was dead and the world had grown darker. Sure, someday things will be better… but what about today?
Resurrection is that great hope that someday the light will consume all the darkness and death will be swallowed up by life. But what about today?
As someone who works with young adults in a university environment, this question is constantly pressing upon me. Theirs is a generation that doesn’t want to be told to wait for someday. They see a world full of hunger, pain, injustice, and sorrow, and they long to see the righteousness of God roll down from the mountain and put right all that is wrong today!
Last year, several students came to my office to tell me that World Relief was closing their Nashville branch and hundreds of refugee families resettled in the area would be without vital resources. “What can we do?” they asked. Here were these students to whom I preached the good news of the gospel week after week, and they needed to know that the someday good news was also good news for struggling families in Nashville today.
Those students went to work building relationships and friendships with local refugee families and volunteering at a Nazarene church with a large Congolese refugee ministry, and we glimpsed the light and life of Jesus.
The church needs people like those students, who will press upon us real-life problems and demand that we reach out with good news to the lost, marginalized, hurt, poor, neglected and abused of our world today.
Jesus will return as Lord in the great homecoming of heaven on earth. Someday God will make a new and everlasting city where all the refugees of a sin-sick world will find their true home. Darkness and death will be driven out and cast into oblivion. Jesus will be worshipped throughout the ages.
But today we can only glimpse what God will do on that great day; what God will do someday.
If our faith in the resurrection is only hanging on promises of someday and we neglect the needs of today, then we are sending a message to the world that Jesus’ resurrection is lifeless. However, if we only live for today and forget about the hope of what God has promised us, then we will shape this day in our own image instead of in the likeness of the resurrected Jesus.
Jesus stands before His grieving friend Martha who knows about the resurrection someday and yet begs for that life today. Can she have the assurance of both? “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus says (John 11:25).
He is the hope for someday and the power for living today.
The resurrection Martha has been waiting for is standing before her in the middle of her real life, in the middle of her ‘today,’ saying, “here I am.” Lazarus lives again!
As people of resurrection, we must hold the hope of someday alongside the good news for today. We hold someday and today together because Jesus is the resurrection and the life, not one or the other. In our celebration of the final victory in Jesus Christ, we gain boldness to charge headlong into darkness and death, demanding their end, with gifts of light and life springing up from the Spirit of the living God that falls fresh on us today and every day.
Shawna Songer Gaines is chaplain at Trevecca Nazarene University.
Holiness Today, Mar/Apr 2018
Please note: This article was originally published in March 2018. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.