John 11:17-44 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…  John 11:25 KJV    
Many people live their lives dying.  Duffy Fankboner did not.  Bob Davis did not.  Even when they were told they were dying, they continued to live, each and every moment of life they had.  Whether they understood it or not, they lived in the power of Christ, who said in our reading today, “though he is dead, yet shall he live.”  
The Gospel of John teaches us that Jesus is much more than a man - than a flesh and blood person who lived in history some 2, 000 years ago.  The opening of John’s gospel tells us that Christ was Word, Life, Light.  Jesus was, and continues to be mystery.  And our life in Christ is the same – mysterious.  
We as Friends say that we have ‘that of God’ in us… the Inner Light, the Light of Christ, the Spirit of God, the empowering, seeking, scorching, searching Light of God in us.  But do we live in that Light?  In that Life?  Or do we live in darkness?  In death?    
Jesus gives us a warning here, and a sign.  Not only of his own earthly death to come, but of our choice to live, fully, in the power of God.  Not only does this story tell of a call to Lazarus.  It’s a call to each one of us, to be unbound… to live.  
Lazarus is actually the least of the participants in this story, although his life, the meaning of his life, his death, and his raising from the dead, captivate us.  What moves us through the story is our story… the story of family and friends living with death… and with God.  We are Mary and Martha.  We are the mourners, come from Jerusalem.  We are the disciples, who know Jesus well, but still can’t figure him out.  And we are the ones who are being asked to trust that Christ’s power is larger than life – or death.  That those who believe in Christ – even though we are dead, still live.  Now, that’s a mystery!  
It had been about three years since Jesus left the safety, nurture, and training of his father’s carpenter shop, to move on to his new work – the ministry that his Father God had long been preparing him for.  His cousin John baptized him at the river Jordan.  His mother was the reason for his first miracle – they had run out of wine at a wedding.  This innocent beginning was just the start of radical signs that offended and frightened those in power.  Three years, and many challenges to authority made Jesus suspect to many persons he had crossed paths with along the way.  
Word comes that the friend Jesus loved most in the world was ill.  Ill or dead, it would not have mattered… Jesus’ disciples do not want him to travel to Bethany.  Going there
could cost Jesus his life. For some reason, Jesus waits two days.  Somehow, he knows Lazarus has ‘fallen asleep’, and that he will raise him from the dead.  There is confusion… if he’s fallen asleep, won’t he wake up on his own?  The ways we speak of death can be perplexing: someone’s ‘gone’, ‘fallen asleep’, ‘crossed over’…   Finally, Jesus speaks plainly - knowingly.  ‘Lazarus has died; I am glad not to have been there. It will be for your good and for the good of your faith.  Let us go to him.’  
Wanted: Dead and Alive.  Awake – Asleep.  Here – Gone.  Dead – Alive.  Christ wants his disciples, his followers… he wants us to know that things aren’t always as they seem.  A person can present as dead… but yet, mysteriously, they continue to live on.  How many of us, as Beth shared today, have ‘lost’ a parent, a child, a person dear to us?  That soul, that life, lives on.  We remember them.  We remember their life lessons engrained in us.  We remember their silly jokes, or their mannerisms – in fact, we often carry them forward.  Some people in the family strongly resemble them.  They are both dead and alive.  Just as Christ knew Lazarus was dead, but saw him as resurrected before he ever reached Bethany, he wanted his disciples - he wants us to know - that life moves on… even through death.  ‘Though he were dead, yet shall he live.’   
Mary and Martha are you and me.  Angry.  Hopeful.  Frustrated.  So sad.  Exhausted.  Relieved to see God, come to us.  The first thing each of them said to Christ?  “If you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”  Of course we’d say that!  We believe all that Christ has preached.  We’ve seen him do miraculous things.  This would have been easy for him.  And besides that, he loved our brother, didn’t he?  He loved him terribly well.  In fact, he’s weeping for him, just now.  ‘What took you so long?”  
Jesus tells them, “Your brother will rise again.”  “Oh, we know that – the resurrection at the last day… all that End Times stuff…”  And Jesus surprises them: “I am the Resurrection. I am the Life. If someone has faith in me, even though he die, he shall come to life; and no one who is alive and has faith shall ever die.  Do you believe this?”  
So here’s where we are…. in Bethany, with a choice.  It’s either dead for a long time, and then, finally alive.   Or dead and alive now.  That’s what Jesus is saying.  “I am the Resurrection.  I am Life.  Now.  Standing in front of you.  Not in the end times.  Not forever away.  But now.  I bring resurrection and life – and not just to your brother, but to you.  Do you believe this?” ‘No one who is alive and has faith shall ever die.”  
I think many of us who have lost someone, die with them.  We move into Lazarus’ tomb with him and take up residence, dying to everything and everyone around us.  I know I did – or at least a great part of me did – when my mother died.  It was my son who said, “Mom, if you believe in God, and you believe that Grandma lives in heaven with God, why are you still so sad?”  This was months and months after my mother had died.  I was stuck in her tomb with my mother.  Actually, I think I was clinically depressed.   
I think Jesus knows this happens, and that’s why he spoke to the sisters about this.  It’s not just the sick and the dying who need resurrection and life… it’s those who accompany the dying, who are in danger of forgetting Life, Resurrection, and the power of Christ in us.  Martha is the most fearful – ‘Don’t touch the grave – don’t move the stone’.  If you don’t move the stone, no one will be freed.  Not Lazarus.  Not Christ.  Not you.  And what is it that Jesus says?  “Did I not tell you that if you have faith you will see the glory of God?”   
Our wounded spirits cry out for the salve, the ointment, the anointing of peace and wholeness that fills the place of loss and longing.  Christ promised the disciples that they would receive goodness, and the strengthening of their faith. God’s glory would be made known, even and in spite of death. Whether Lazarus came out of the tomb or not, those mourners were standing in the mystery and power of resurrection and life! The anticipation of resurrection is a rising in itself.  The anticipation of life, is life.  Live in life.  Live in resurrection.  Live, as Jesus did, knowing death, but anticipating… life.