And then Jesus makes another promise: “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” The one who believes in Jesus might die physically. But that person will keep living. When a Christian dies, a Christian doesn’t really die. The body shuts down, but the soul goes to heaven. A Christian’s life improves at death, because in heaven, that Christian is more alive, more healthy, more filled joy and awe and excitement than ever before. “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
And then there is that other promise Jesus makes: “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” When Jesus says, “Never die,” he is talking about what happens at Judgment Day, when he raises the Christian up from the dead again, and that person physically alive again – body and soul forever, and will never die. What amazing promises Jesus makes here. “Do you believe this,” Jesus asked Martha. And Martha said yes. In spite of the sadness she felt, the grief of losing her brother, she believed. Maybe she didn’t understand everything Jesus was saying, but she believed.
Do you believe? These are big promises. It can be hard, sometimes, to believe, when we are experiencing grief like Martha, when a loved one suddenly dies, when a successful career suddenly ends, when health is suddenly replaced by illness, when love is replaced by loneliness, when good days are replaced by bad. Had you ever had moments of doubt, moments of sadness and grief, wondering if everything you had ever believed about Jesus is actually true? Is there really life after death? Is there really a resurrection from the dead? Is Jesus real? Is everything I have ever believed true? Look at all of my problems, all of my troubles. Sometimes the promises of God don’t seem real.
“Believe,” Jesus says, “and you will see the glory of God.” We all have doubts – Martha too. Jesus told Martha to move the stone away from Lazarus’ tomb, and she hesitated. Wouldn’t you have hesitated too? Yes, I believe you, Jesus, but really? Open up the tomb again? They moved away the stone, and with one command, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead: “Lazarus, come out! And the dead man came out.” Martha saw God’s glory right there – she saw Jesus raise her brother from the dead. She believed, and saw the glory of God.
A short while later, during Holy Week, Martha would experience more grief. Instead of her brother dying, she would see Jesus dying, on a cross. Instead of burying Lazarus in a tomb, she would be burying Jesus in a tomb. More heartache for Martha. More grief. More sadness. But perhaps for her, the promise of Jesus would echo through her mind, “Believe, and you will see the glory of God.” Would Jesus keep that promise to Martha again? The answer, as you know, is yes. Just as Lazarus walked out of that tomb, Jesus would walk out of his tomb, and reveal to everyone the glory of God.