Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” [John 11:25-27]
For most of the churches across the world, preparations are being made to celebrate Easter, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Which makes it appropriate to wrestle with themes of eschatology and soteriology. What does it mean for Jesus to have been crucified at the hands of Empire? And what does it mean for the tomb to have been empty? And what impact does that have for us today?
Jesus’ words to Martha in John 11 or the more commonly quoted teachings of John 3:16 indicate that there is more than eternal life at stake for Jesus. Throughout the Gospel according to John, Jesus speaks to and through the immediate, establishing his sense of urgency to the now, to the present – “bread of life”, “living water”, “light of the world”. For one who could have stopped with “I am the resurrection” and continued to mourn the loss of his friend, this Messiah addresses the today. “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Too often, we look to some distant future and order our lives to prepare for that day out there without any regard for the now. Think those who protest against Black Lives Matter rallies with “John 3:16” painted on cardboard signs or outside of Planned Parenthood – while their conviction could be considered admirable, it definitely misses the point; that Jesus invites us into relationship so that we might be like Christ in the now.
The eschatological implications force us to think more than simply the end of the world; we must also reckon with our own journeys as we draw towards the ends of our worlds. Some day we will die. The challenge is for us to live lives following in the ways of Jesus, today.
Rev. Joe Kim serves as Lead Pastor of Bothell UMC in Bothell, WA, and a member of Organizing for Mission Network.