Have you ever had someone come to you and say, “Well, I have good news and bad news.” Usually the one telling you this is in a white coat with his/her name embroidered on the left side pocket.
As one who has survived Colon Cancer I can find humor in my own suffering. I made up a joke that goes like this: The Doctor comes into my hospital room and says, “Well, I have good news and bad news.”
I reply with, “Give me the bad news first.”
He says, “The bad news is you have cancer and are going to die.”
“What’s the good news?”
He says, “You only have to do this once.”
When Jesus came to the home of his good friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha, his visit on this occasion was to perform a miracle that would seal his own death. Lazarus had been dead four days and the proof was in the nostrils of those attending the home (John 11:39). This would be a miracle wherein no one could deny its validity. There were many guests there and Lazarus smelled of death.
John 11:35 portrays the love that Jesus had for the man. “Jesus wept.” Not just that he was dead (for Jesus would have known what he was about to do) but that he would raise Lazarus and Lazarus would have to die again. Lazarus was in a safe place. He would have no more sorrow or pain. Jesus cried for Lazarus because Lazarus would become the visual aid for the power of God and whose life would be in danger. Do you think the Sanhedrin would let Lazarus live long? Though this is an example of a single resurrection and not the general resurrection from the dead, it shows that God has the power.
Like good news and bad news, the bad news is that sin will cause us to lose our spiritual life. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
Though man has a beginning that occurred at conception, he has no ending. The spirit of man has a never-ending future. However he can choose his own destiny. He can choose to do absolutely nothing and his future will be determined by his inaction. One might call it a default status (i.e., Hell.) On the other hand, one can choose to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and by doing so he accepts God’s glorious gift of eternal life spent with the Father, son and Holy Spirit. That’s GOOD NEWS!
We have a promise of the resurrection found in several places in Scripture, but this gift is appropriated in the culmination of our obedience to Christ when we submit to Him. The apostle Paul assures us that when our sins are washed away, the new life begins. Romans 6:3-6 provides the context of that gift.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.
We don’t talk much about resurrection. It usually comes up during Easter week or the many times we preach funeral sermons. Funerals are a time when many are feeling the loss of a loved one. It has been my experience that incorporating thoughts and information about the resurrection are not just helpful in understanding eschatology (last things), but are also words that give comfort to those of us who are left behind. How sad it is when a husband and wife have been together for many years yet are now suddenly separated at the passing of the other. Many find comfort in the knowledge that faithful Christians have the hope of eternal life by the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.
That’s GOOD NEWS!
Paul Kirkpatrick preaches at the Warner’s Chapel Church of Christ in Clemmons, NC, and is the director of the North Carolina School of Biblical Studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.