In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Today we hear the Apostle say to us what is connected to one of my favourite memories: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” It is really important for us to remember these words always, because there are a lot of people who are going around, and speculating, trying to figure out Who is Jesus, based on I don’t know what sort of speculative, philosophical foundation. They treat Him as some kind of an idea instead of as a person. In fact, there are right now plenty of books, and articles being written which flatly reject Jesus Christ as a person – they only treat Him as some kind of a proposition or philosophical idea or a nice myth, perhaps.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” We, who are Christians, know Him personally. We have a personal experience of Him. Our personal experience of Him is the same personal experience that Christians have been having for two thousand years, and not just in a particular place, but always, and everywhere. If we go to Borneo today, let’s say, and talk to a Christian there about Jesus Christ, and our experience of Him, we are going to find out that yes, we do know the same Person. It is the same Jesus Christ. They know Him, and we know Him. We could go to Russia, Africa, Australia – around the world wherever we like, and our experience as Christians would be that Jesus Christ is the same to them as He is to us. He is not different.
We are the ones who are different. We are the ones that are the sick persons. We are the ones who are the betrayers. We are the ones who try to put Him in a place where we can control Him instead of accepting Him for WHO HE IS. However, it doesn’t matter – He remains the same. It is important for us to remember this in the course of our life.
It’s important for us, looking at, and remembering what we have just encountered with the resurrection of Lazarus that this is the case: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever.” The Jesus Christ who raised Lazarus from the dead is the same Jesus Christ who is our hope, and our resurrection, too. The resurrection of Lazarus is the foreshadowing of the LORD’s Resurrection very soon, and also of our resurrection. They are all connected. He says He is “the Resurrection, and the Life”, and this is a practical application of WHO HE IS, this Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday, today and for ever”. He is the Resurrection, and the Life. He is our hope. He is our life.
It is interesting, too, to look at, and remember the words of those sisters of Lazarus today. Usually when we are thinking about Mary, and Martha, we think only about the passages that are read at the time of a feast of the Mother of God, where Martha is working in the kitchen, and Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus. There’s a tendency, especially with our popular saying comparing a woman (or a man, too, sometimes) with Martha, to say that she is just a doer, and Mary is a listener. By following that kind of a proverb too closely, and making such a distinction between two persons, we are making a mistake, as is shown very clearly today. What does Martha say when she encounters Christ? She says: “LORD, if You had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” What does Mary say when she comes running up to Him in the same place? Exactly the same words – “LORD, if You had been here, he would not have died.” Mary, and Martha have different personalities, like sisters do. They are sisters, but they are not identical persons. Yet, their relationship with Christ is the same. They know, together, WHO HE IS. Mary is more contemplative as a person, you could say; Martha is more active as a person. That doesn’t change the relationship between them, and Jesus Christ. One is not lesser than the other – they’re just different.
These differences that the LORD creates in us are all differences because they are expressing the variety of His creation, the variety of His love. We are all very different persons. Our lives are different; our experiences are different; our gifts are different, even though we may sometimes look awfully similar, like identical twins. Identical twins definitely do not have the same personality. As much as silly scientists without God think that cloning human beings would make the same person, they’re out to lunch. If God were to give life to somebody who had been cloned by us reckless persons, they would find very quickly that that person is not the same as the prototype. That person is still a different, unique person with different experiences, with different gifts according to what God has given. If the LORD gives life, it’s not because of some silly, human experiment. The LORD will still use this person to His glory. I say that because we are capable of such horrible things.
Nevertheless, I am saying that the LORD, who is the Giver of life, is still the LORD of everything. Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, today, and for ever” is not subject to our stupidity, our recklessness. He is the One who will show us. We think we are so smart. God says, as it were: “All right, I give life to this person, and I’ll show you. See if you can understand.” This person is not some kind of an exact replica, because a human being cannot be an exact replica of another person. If God gives life to a person, He gives life to that person uniquely.
Every human being, no matter what, and every animal, too, is created uniquely, with its own unique personality, with its own unique gifts, with its own unique responsibilities, with its own unique ministry. The LORD, who is the Giver of life, is that way with us. His love is like that with us. It is not limited, like we are (and think we are not). He is the Giver of life, the Sustainer of everything. Everything that is, is, because of His love.
Therefore, He gives life to Lazarus today, and He gives life to you, and to me. He is our hope. He is our salvation. He is our everything. It is important for us to remember every day of our lives to turn over everything to Him, to offer everything to Him, to connect everything to, and with Him, and to glorify Him in everything, together with His Father, who is from everlasting, and His all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.