By Colleen Mitchell
There are few things that make me more excited than to come across a miraculous resurrection story in joy; the times when Jesus raises an actual mortal human being from the dead have been particularly poignant for me. The stories of Jairus’ daughter who was lifted back to life with the command of “Talitha Kumi”—“little girl, get up” (Mark 5:41), and today’s Gospel reading of Lazarus’ resurrection have always impacted me. They assure me that the resurrection life won by Christ’s suffering in his passion and his death is not some nebulous heavenly reality meant to make me feel cheerfully aware that one day in heaven I might know that kind of joy.
No, these stories remind us that even in the middle of our mixed-up, messy, earthly, Lenten lives, with the ashes of sin dusted over us and the weight of the cross laid heavy upon us, we are still the children of the resurrection. Today. Right now. In this minute of your life, whatever it may be bringing you, Jesus is drawing near, saddened by all the small deaths that have taken bits of your heart away, but undeterred by the scent of death or how long it has been since you have fully lived.
Right now, even as he faces the suffering he will undergo for you, he draws near and calls you back to life, calls me back to life. He not only opens our eyes to the possibility of a life of eternal joy with him, but also expresses his desire for us to be fully alive here on earth, to respond in trust to his earthly command that we wake up and live.
He tells the family of Jairus’ daughter to give her something to eat after she rises from her death sleep. He tells those surrounding Lazarus to unbind him. Jesus’ commands shake the fog from the minds of those who are unsure of what they have just witnessed. He brings the resurrected ones back in touch with their physical reality—to eat, to be touched, to move freely—reminding everyone that what has occurred is that a real, earthly body had died and is now alive.
As we walk toward Easter through Lent, I am placing my hope in the same promise I find in these stories. That as I focus my heart on what Jesus won for me through his Passion and then his resurrection, I can prepare my heart to reclaim the life he has for me to live. He calls my name and tells me to “come out” (John 11:43), to experience the life of salvation right here and right now. He has no fear of what has bound me, what stench surrounds me in my sin, or how I have fallen asleep to his mercy.
I could use this Lent to count a million ways I have killed my soul with sin, bound myself in disordered thinking, and closed my eyes to grace. And I could convince myself that Easter was coming to remind me that one day all that will be over and I can live happy and free in the presence of my God in heaven. But the truth that Jesus reminds us of today is that we can stop all our counting, open our eyes, step out of the things that bind us, and know that while we await the day we celebrate his resurrection, his mercy is already running toward us so that we can live our own beginning right here and right now.
About the Author:
Colleen Mitchell is a wife to Greg, bringer-upper of five boys, foreign missionary, and writer, speaker and encourager and wanna-be saint. She lives in Costa Rica where she and her family carry out the work of their missionary non-profit, St. Bryce Missions and run the St. Francis Emmaus Center pregnancy and medical hostel for indigenous women. She is the author of Who Does He Say You Are? Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels and blogs at Blessed Are the Feet