Monday, May 26, 2008

A Dead Man Speaks

Wouldn’t you like to talk with someone who died, and then was brought back to life after 4 days? I know I would. Of course, these days we hear of such things fairly often, and who knows what to believe? But to me, it is striking that John does not interview Lazarus after his 4 days in the grave and his astonishing resurrection. So many of our questions could have been answered, and fairly quickly, if John would have recorded for us the conversation Lazarus surely had with Mary and Martha. John is strangely quiet here. How could a man such as John miss such an opportunity? But his silence, I suspect, is intentional, very intentional. Think about it. Jesus calls a dead man back to life. John’s silence, with respect to the dead man’s experience, speaks volumes. Personally I don’t think it ever crossed John’s mind to interview Lazarus. Why? Because the One who is himself the resurrection and the life is standing right in front of him!

What happens when we die? What do we encounter? Where do we wake up, and in what condition? I think John’s answer is that we meet Jesus—who is our life. And meeting Jesus as our life is both the gospel and exposing judgment at the same time.

I suspect at least 3 things happen when we meet Jesus in death and resurrection. (1) We come to know (not simply to believe, but to know) that we do not have the power of existence. We discover in death—in an irrefutable way—that Jesus Christ is the living one, and that we are not. This is not the conclusion of our intellect after a convincing philosophical debate. It is the fruit of losing every semblance of power, of coming to an absolute end of ourselves, and then meeting the One who holds our very being in the palm of his hands, so to speak.

(2) Meeting Jesus—as the source of our life—reveals to us that our entire existence, from conception to our death has been a participation in his life. Our loves, our sacrifices, our ideas and burdens, our joys and sorrows, our beauty and courage, our laughter and creativity have all had their origin, not in us, but in Jesus and his relationship with his Father and the Holy Spirit. For there is only one circle of love in this universe, the circle of life shared by the Father, Son and Spirit. In meeting Jesus we come to know as we are known. We see ourselves as we truly are, people who are not, and never have been, separated from God, people who are eternally loved by the Father, Son and Spirit, and have been made joint-heirs with Jesus himself, adopted, included in the Trinitarian life in Christ. We see our lives as the long process whereby the Trinitarian life, shared with us in Jesus, has been emerging, through the Spirit, in us, and in our relationships with one another and the whole creation.

(3) Such a revelation is the most thrilling news in the world, but it is also withering. For to meet Jesus as our life, to see the Father’s love for us, to know that we are included in Jesus’ own anointing in the Holy Spirit shows us our real life, and it inevitably reveals that we have been a long way from living it. Only in the light of Jesus Christ—and of who we truly are in him—do we understand how far we have fallen short of living in the glory of the Triune God. The mess we have made of ourselves and our lives reveals, not that we do not belong to the Father, Son and Spirit, but that we have been participating in a terrible and terrifying darkness. We have followed, not the Spirit of truth and of adoption, but the spirit of error and separation. We have lived in and out of profound confusion. We have been terribly wrong. The great darkness, and our believing its lies, created pain, and while the Holy Spirit was a work within us leading us to believe in Jesus and to participate in the Trinitarian life, we were at work believing in ourselves and in our home-made pain remedies. Seeing ourselves included in Jesus and in his life, reveals that we have been proud, self-centered pricks, whose lives have been more a form of hiding and self-justification, sadness and pain management, than open-souled fellowship and simple joy. In meeting Jesus, as the real truth of our life, we come face to face with how we have hurt ourselves, and others, and creation in the great darkness, with how we have ignored the Holy Spirit himself and preferred our own judgment, and with the brutal, yet liberating, fact that we do not have a clue about life and living it.

Jesus said, and says: “I am the light of the cosmos, the one who follows me, shall never, ever walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).


Dad said...

Thanks Baxter. Your thoughts about us being included in the life of Jesus reminded me of a statement made by a Muslim leader here in Australia. It was published in our local newspaper last weekend. The article finished with this statement, "God does not belong to us, nor the Christians, nor does God belong to the Jews. It is we who belong to God."
Thank God that he included us in Jesus.
Hope to see you in Oz sometime soon.
Kevin and Cath Hamer

Ferg said...

My grandfather passed away just this morning so this post was very significant. thank you for sharing. I love the fact that my grandfather is sitting with Jesus right now. (I also just received 'The Shack' in the post this morning upon your recommendation, I look forward to reading it)

bill winn said...

What good news! I wonder what it was like for the original 12 when they met Jesus after they died. I wonder if when Peter got there before John, Jesus smiled and said, "Told ya" in a joking way. I wonder if Judas was instantly healed of the pain he felt that so drove him to suicide. I wonder what it was like when my own father met him. I can look back now and see so much of the Shared Zoe of the Father, Son, and Spirit in my dad's life that to a large degree he was unaware of but must have experienced hints about. I'll bet you your Spanish land grant they're having a large time and a finely aged Scotch! We can be so sure of our union, acceptance, and adoption into the Father's embrace that we need not fear death one single bit. Passing into the full "weight of glory" will be welcomed. Thank you Jesus- Light of the Kosmos- for fulfilling the Father’s dream to have us in union with the Blessed Trinity!

Mark Howie said...

Dear Sir, I just happened upon your blog. Might I say that it is splendid. Thank you for thoughts.

Pastor Mark Howie
NewDay Mississippi, Inc

Anonymous said...

thank-you to our Lord Jesus for men like you that continue to be revealed The Truth. there is a dissapointing feeling when i realized that we north americans of western culture, are a bunch of spoiled brats that really do not fully understand the Trinity and our responsibilties. Praise God! He is constantly working in our lives. maybe one day we will all begin to understand what Jesus really means to the world.

The Old Man said...

“Wouldn’t you like to talk with someone who died, and then was brought back to life after 4 days? I know I would.”

Certainly it's titillating to think about, but is it worth speculating on?

“John’s silence, with respect to the dead man’s experience, speaks volumes. Personally I don’t think it ever crossed John’s mind to interview Lazarus. Why?”

Baxter, you may suspect one thing or another, but if you put aside your notions regarding the state of the dead and consider for a moment that perhaps the most logical explanation is that John and the rest of the gathering had no curiosity regarding Lazarus' activities or thoughts while dead, because they all knew full well that he had had no awareness or consciousness for the past four days until the moment he was brought back to life by Jesus. Possible?

And could that be the experience that lay ahead for all of us who place our hope in a resurrection from the dead at the return of our Messiah?

Anonymous said...

Old Man,

Personally, your questions just make me ask Baxter's questions all the more! If I really believed that a person had no consciousness after death, I would be really curious to ask them if this were true!


C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D. said...

Hey Kevin and Cath,

Hope you and the gang are doing well. Did you see that we posted the diagrams?

C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D. said...


Your grandfather is having the time of his life.

C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D. said...


Thank you brother.

Anonymous said...

Hi Baxter,
Thanks for posting the diagrams. Great. I just spent a weekend away with a group studying 'rites of passage' work with boys. They were anything but Christ followers. But the terminology they used about 'the essence within', the 'inner spirit' etc etc. I just wanted to shake them and say, 'You're talking about Jesus'. They were also talking about shame and it's effects. You would have thought they were using the soul diagram as their reference. Quite amazing. At the appropriate time however, I was able to share about Jesus as we stood in their 'sacred space', in the midst of some bizarre rituals. The name of Jesus was lifted higher in that place, and I know from comments made later, that the Holy Spirit worked through that to draw some a little closer to the truth. Thanks for being my teacher. See ya Kevin Hamer