Catch the Current
Your Easter I.D., Part Three: Risen with Christ
Editor's Note: This is the final installment in a three-part series. See Robert Crosby's column page for more.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. ~ The Apostle Paul (Phil. 3:12)
Maggie McKinney, an eighth-grade Spanish teacher, faced a personal Gethsemane two decades into her marriage. "When my husband of twenty years and I separated," she says, "people called, wrote letters, came visiting. Some promised, 'You'll marry again soon—and next time your marriage will last.' Others said, 'You're better off single.' Almost everyone encouraged me, 'Go for it!'"
Eighteen months later, when Maggie and her husband decided to give their marriage a second shot, support was limited at best. "'I heard you two are back together,' said one caller. 'I hope . . . it isn't true.' Another asked: 'Are you sure you want to risk going through this again?'" One minister told her: "When something is dead, you need to bury it."
There is something cold and callous in the ring of the minister's counsel. Such counsel seems too stark and harsh when addressing something as significant as a twenty-year-long marriage.
No doubt, however, Maggie's array of advisors had watched her on some of her darkest days. They had seen the anguish and disillusionment on her face when she had discussed her marriage. They heard her grappling for hope. They saw the tears. Watching her heart fighting to navigate the hurts and hurdles of it all was difficult. Somehow the thoughts of a Plan B, of just being rid of the struggle, seemed a lesser burden to bear than trying to weather it. Why, it only made sense—common sense, that is.
Jesus turned the Kingdom of Common Sense on its head in more ways than one. Just think of it: To bloodthirsty zealots he insisted "love your enemy" and "bless those who persecute you." To his often-vengeful disciples he upped the tally for required acts of forgiveness from seven to "seventy times seven." And to a young, bereaved sister named Martha, whose beloved brother Lazarus (a close friend of Jesus') had just died, he made it clear that the Resurrection was more than simply a coming prophetic event.
"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. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn. 11:21-26)
Into the face of Martha's grief, Jesus came that day. He walked right into her conflict, into her Personal Cross in life. Her soul was not only wracked by the loss of Lazarus, it was bewildered over the question of why. Why hadn't he just come earlier? Why had he waited this long? Surely he could have saved her brother. Martha was struggling with the same thing you and I often struggle with, a nagging if—"if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (v. 21).
What Martha hoped would happen, had not. If any present hope was in sight she could not see it. To Martha's dilemma Jesus brought hope in the form of five short words: "Your brother will rise again" (v. 23). He didn't say how. He didn't say why. He didn't even say when. But he did, however, bring her a promise and an emphatic one at that.
Robert Crosby is an author and Professor of Practical Theology at Southeastern University. Read his interview with Bobby Gruenewald, the Founder of YouVersion.com (the Bible App) and related articles at Christianity Today—The New Engagers and The Social Network Gospel.
Robert Crosby is the author of the new book, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press). Crosby's column, "Catch the Current," is published every other Tuesday on the Evangelical portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.