It’s such a strange feeling when you know something is done. Our son just turned 20 and his teen years are in the past. Our oldest daughter will graduate in May and her lifetime of home-schooling days will be over. My sister’s fiancé is retiring after more than 35 years with the Denver Fire Department. There is such finality in all these things. When they’re over, they’re over.
I was recently at a funeral for a friend’s mom. Amidst the sadness, there was the recognition of an end to her pain and suffering. Her life here is done. Yet, she believed in Jesus and so there is hope in something much better than life on earth. Life isn’t really over even after death.
Jesus went to see his friends Mary and Martha after their brother Lazarus died. He comforted Martha with these words (John 11:25-27): “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Martha believed what He said. “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” She believed even before Jesus died and rose again from the dead.
Nicodemus was a religious teacher at the time Jesus walked on earth. He came to Jesus secretly in the night with questions, potentially risking his reputation as an important leader. This man would have followed all the religious rules and would have sought to earn God’s approval. Part of Jesus’ words to him included these words from John 3:14-17: “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”
What a shock that must have been to hear that eternal life couldn’t be earned through following rules, but that it would come only through believing in Jesus.
Nicodemus insisted on a fair trial when Jesus was being accused of claiming to be the Christ (John 7:50-51). I wonder if later, when Jesus died high up on a cross, he thought about the words Jesus had spoken to him that night about how the Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life?
After Jesus’ death, Nicodemus was there with Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Jesus’ body with spices. They wrapped it in strips of linen, and then they laid Him in a tomb (John 19:39-42). Nicodemus must have been curious to see how the story would unfold. Do you think he thought it was done? That it was over? That the words Jesus spoke didn’t mean anything now because He was dead?
I can’t imagine the joy that must have overflowed when Nicodemus heard a few days later that Jesus was alive. That tomb was empty and He had risen.
Even though Jesus died, that was not the end. By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also (1 Corinthians 6:14).
Martha knew that even after her brother died, his life wasn’t over. With Martha, there was no guessing or wondering who Jesus was. Nicodemus, on the other hand, was filled with questions. But he took them straight to Jesus and he got answers.
• Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.