Scripture – John 11:17-44
Already; And Not Yet
By Matt Bisel
There is a palpable tension in this scene. You can almost feel it when Martha confronts Jesus saying, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” You see days before Lazarus’ death, word had been sent by Mary and Martha to Jesus that their brother was gravely ill.
Mary, Martha and Lazarus were all followers of Jesus and they had undoubtedly witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles. Mary and Martha fully believed that Jesus would come and heal their brother, Lazarus. But Jesus delayed, and Lazarus was now dead. Mary and Martha’s faith in Jesus did not prevent them from experiencing the death of their brother.
Likewise, we as believers in Jesus know that he saves the lost and heals the broken. We believe that Jesus has risen from the grave and conquered death. This is the hope we profess and is why we say things like, “the worst thing is not the last thing!” Yet… we still experience brokenness and death. Just like Mary and Martha, there is a tension that persists between our faith and our experience.
Some people call this the “already; and not yet.” The “already” is the Kingdom of God which Christ started or inaugurated in his life, death and resurrection and we live into that kingdom now and profess it’s hope in the present. The “not yet” is the brokenness and death we still experience.
How do you live into the “already?”
How does Jesus live into the “not yet” in this story?
So, how do we live into this tension?
One way is in worship… In worship we come together bringing with us a diversity of experiences. Within the same space someone may be celebrating a job promotion while someone else is reeling from a job loss. Within the same space people are living into a life of recovery while others struggle with addiction. Someone may have received a call from the doctor during the week, the tumor is benign; someone else, malignant.
All of these experiences come together in worship and we are met there by God. Just as in the story of Lazarus, we can take comfort that when Jesus shows up on the scene he both weeps with us and resurrects.
Wesley’s Challenge Questions for the Week:
- Am I enjoying prayer?
- When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?