17 Mar 2016
We’ve all been to funerals. We know that people die. And so, even to the ears of the faithful, Jesus’ words can seem to have a trace of incredibility: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” Of course, we believe in the resurrection; and we know that he’s talking about eternal life. But, still, it can be hard to square what Jesus is saying about death with the reality we know as death. And perhaps we shouldn’t try.
After all, as Jesus says, he’s simply telling people what the Father has shared with him. And so, all this talk about “never seeing death” is really coming to us from a dimension that’s way outside our realm of experience. That’s why the Jews called Jesus “possessed” and even “nuts.” And it’s why so many people in the world still look at Christianity and call it “nonsensical” or a “figment of somebody’s imagination.”
Jesus is trying to expose us to a world of understanding beyond what we normally see as reality. And his efforts reach their climax with his own crucifixion and death. When we see the crucifixion there’s more going on than just death. When we look into a casket, or visit a cemetery, there’s more going on than just death.
And what’s “going on” is the promise of the Son of God that “whoever keeps his word will never see death.” What’s happening is the almost unbelievable. And yet, we believe. We may not understand what Jesus is talking about, and our eyes may see only death . . . but, still, we believe—not in foolishness, but in faith that Jesus is who he says he is, and that his words are true.