The Promise of Resurrection

“I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

John 11:26-27

Most of us were probably sobered this past week as we watched one of Europe’s oldest churches, the church of Notre Dame, burn almost to the ground in ashes.  The cathedral which was built in the 12th century, was actually built as one of Paris’ first churches that was founded in the 5th century, commemorating how a missionary and pastor by the name of Remigius led king Clovis I out of pagan worship to Christ.  

As I watched various news anchors try to describe this loss, the irony struck me in several ways.   First, the burning of Notre Dame symbolizes how France, Europe and the Western world have lost their faith in Christ.  In 1940, 93% of France’s citizens claimed to be Christian, with most of them going to church regularly.  Today only 1 in 10 claim to be Christian with only 5% attending church regularly.  That’s almost a 90% decrease.

Another irony is this:  church tradition tells us that Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead went to France as one of the the missionaries in the first century.  And now the very gospel which had brought France freedom from its idolatry and superstitions is turning away from the very thing that brought them out of bondage. Interestingly, while fewer and fewer French believe in Jesus, the fastest growing faith in Paris and all of France is Islam, which rejects the resurrection.  In fact, Paris is now 15% Muslim and growing and its mosques are now fuller and more attended than France’s churches. 

Why do I share all of this as we look to celebrate Easter this Sunday?  Well, America as a nation is not too far behind all of this.  Just in the last 70 years, atheism here has grown from just 3% to 16% and now a recent report published by Eastern Illinois University says that there are as many people in America who claim no religion as those who attend Protestant and Catholic churches.  What this means is that agnosticism and atheism are the fastest growing religions now in the United States. 

But the goodnews in all of this is despite the ebb and flow of man's heart and faith, Jesus has been raised and extends to all who believe in Him eternal life.   When Jesus was answering a group of skeptics, who denied that God raises men from the dead, we read in Mark 12:27 this great declaration, that God "is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  In just one sentence Jesus was saying to all of us that being dead is not the end of our story, there is life beyond the grave and a resurrection. 

Listen to how Jesus promised us in John 11:25-26, when giving assurance to Martha who had just lost her brother to some terrible disease, "Martha, I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” And then Jesus asked her this simple question, “Do you believe this?” 

Today Jesus is still asking those who will listen, “Do you believe this?”  Do you believe if you put your faith and trust in Him,  “though you die, you will live and never die.”  Your eternal destiny depends on it. This is the goodnews this Easter season, if we trust in Him for forgiveness of sin and believe He was raised from the dead we will be saved.