Death to Life

How amazing are our two readings today!? How fortunate that we can read  of two miraculous resurrections (in addition to God’s miraculous provision) 1 Kings 17 and John 11:1-44 side by side. These are both familiar and dear passages to me, and so the opportunity to compare and contrast is valuable in that helps me engage with the familiar with some freshness.

Elijah delivers God’s judgement prophecy of drought to King Ahab

“As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

Jesus on the other hand prophesies life and power over death.

“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Whereas Elijah immediately flees into exile under God’s provision to survive the drought…

“Depart from here and turn eastwards and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

Jesus waits around for a couple of days…

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

…totally the opposite of what you’d do if someone you loved dearly was gravely ill.  Jesus has already declared that this is happening for his Glory.

Elijah understands the power and providence and compassion of God, but has no power of his own. He calls upon The LORD

“O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.”And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived.

But Jesus is the resurrection and the life…

Jesus said to her, “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. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

and He does not need to cry out to God for life, but he does so for everyone else’s benefit, and then He commands Lazarus to life

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”

Martha’s words “you are the Christ” can’t help but remind me of when Jesus asks his disciples who people say that he is (Matt 16:13-20Mark 8:27-30Lk 9:18-20). As Matthew records it:

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

As you read these two passages, the similarities and differences can help you draw conclusions that Jesus is greater than Elijah, but as with Peter, may God the Father reveal to you that Jesus is the Son of Man, the resurrection and the life, and the Christ, the Son of the living God.