For example I heard Jesus say “I am The Resurrection and The Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” With my own ears, I heard Jesus say those words — and, moments later, with my own eyes I saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead … a man whose lifeless body had been sealed in an airtight tomb for three days. I hear the claim. I see the proof. I believe. “Seeing is believing” — or is it?
My fellow disciples and I had seen Jesus calm a raging storm on the sea … feed 5,000 people with two fish and five hand-sized loaves of bread … turn water into wine … heal the sick, the lame, the blind, the deaf, the emotionally impaired. And now, we had seen Him raise a man from the dead who had been in an airtight tomb for four days. For me, these and many other things Jesus did were signs pointing to Jesus as The Christ, The Son of The Living God - The Resurrection and The Life of all who believe in Him.
Mary and Martha saw and believed. Many of the Judeans, who had come with Mary —– neighbors from Bethany … friends from Jerusalem and from the other little communities surrounding Jerusalem — had seen what Jesus did and believed in Jesus. For them seeing is believing.
They knew Jesus is truly The Resurrection and The Life. But what does that mean beyond the seeing and the hearing – even of Jesus’ words and the signs He performed. Jesus said “I am The Resurrection and The Life. Before Jesus raised Lazarus even Mary and Martha did not fully understand Jesus was saying “I am The One Who brings people back to life and I am Life itself.” Jesus was saying “I am Life itself.” Without Jesus there is no life – only existence.
For some that day even seeing was not believing. Some of them who saw as we saw went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done — not to proclaim the wonders they had seen wrought by God through His only begotten Son — not to acknowledge Jesus as The Resurrection and The Life — The Guarantor that we will see those loved ones who have gone before us and dwell eternally with them - Who makes our lives and our relationships with God and those we love eternal. They saw but went not to acknowledge Jesus as The Resurrection and The Life – but rather to participate in the plot against Jesus and His life.
They came to report and to ask their leaders, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let Him go on thus, every one will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and destroy our holy place and our nation.”
They were concerned about the effect Jesus’ popularity would have upon their own political power which was founded on their own collaboration with the Judean’s Roman enemies. What effect is Jesus’ popularity going to have on the economic and social power the Romans have given them?
Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”
Caiaphas was ruthless and devious when it came to keeping the Roman conquerors happy and himself in power. What was one man’s death when that one man’s popularity could cost Caiaphas his own personal power and standing and the power and standing of his fellow conspirators?
But look how miraculously God used Caiaphas’ ruthless words to proclaim God’s Good News of our faith and salvation in Christ.
God is more anxious to restore the relationship He created us to have than even we are to have it – doing all that is needed to restore it – even crucifixion – even prophesying through an evil leader.
Caiaphas — powerful as he thought the Romans had made him — remained a reluctant servant of God. The words he spoke were not solely his own. He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
As Caiaphas the ruthless politician spoke of his politically expedient need to plot the murder of Jesus — that one man should die for the people — Caiaphas the high priest spoke Gospel prophecy as the Holy Spirit empowered him. Without knowing it, he spoke the essence of The Gospel — that One Man should die for the people — Jesus for all the people for our eternal salvation. By Grace, God proclaimed His Message of Salvation through the high priest who neither saw nor believed.
We didn’t know it that January day — but we were now mere months from Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus knew and He knew the work He had to do with us during the next three months. Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the Judeans, but went from there to the country near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there He stayed with us disciples.
Faith is a strange commodity. I used to think “seeing is believing” — I know what I see and my strongest beliefs, I thought, always grew out of the testimony of my own eyes. My faith has grown through what I have seen and heard from Jesus — but faith itself is always a divine gift. It is given to us by God Who not only gives us eyes for physical sight and ears for physical sounds, but also gives us faith to truly see and hear and to truly understand what we see and hear.
True Faith is not a gift given only to a chosen few — as some may think — but a gift given by God in generous portion to every soul on the face of the earth. The faith we receive from God is part of our being created in the Image of God — being able alone of all creatures to recognize God and to live with knowledge in The Resurrection, The Life and the relationship God has established with us for now and eternity.
The enlightenment and empowerment of the Holy Spirit gives true Faith to all of us — the choice is then ours to live by that Faith or to reject it and maybe even plot against it.
By the Grace and Gift of God, we believe and so we see and we hear and we live eternally with Christ.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS … OUR PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOUR WHOM GOD, IN LOVE, HAS ENABLED US TO BELIEVE AND SEE.
Your friend and God’s Messenger,
Fifth Sunday In Lent
March 18, 2018
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio