A Riddle and A Question

Life and Death. In my faith, there is one very foundational idea. It is the belief that Jesus Christ conquered death; that he was brutally executed, but came back to life. It's a crazy notion, I admit. But, when you really read the eyewitness accounts of it all for yourself, it's even more astounding. This idea demands any thinking person to make a rational choice about whether this is a true claim or not. I love how Bono (as in U2, not Sonny) puts it.

"I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this Jesus? Was he who he said he was, or was he just a nut? ... that's the question."

Moments of death really force all sorts of questions, and introspection. Death makes you think about life, eternity, and spiritual things. So, last week, as I watched my Grampa die, I was reminded of this wild claim from Jesus. This is a direct quote from him. He's talking to the sister of one of his best friends. His friend Lazarus, had just died.

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the Resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" ~Jesus

That is an audacious statement. His assertion: to believe in him is to die and live; to live and never die. Big claim. But, I love how he follows-up with a question: "Do you believe this?" he says. It's like he knows this is such a bizarre thing to claim. And it's like he wants to give us a little time to raise our eyebrow and look at him a little suspiciously. He allows for conversation about it. And the way it reads on the page, it's like he's talking out of the book, into the future. It's like he's expecting us, in the 21st century, to interact, to answer the question for ourselves. And really, everybody has to answer for themselves. We all do. Nobody answers faith questions for anybody else. Jesus asks, "Do you believe this?"
Another time he asks his friend Peter, "What about you, who do you say I am?" And it's the same deal. He's asking Peter. That's clear. But, it sure reads like he's fast-forwarding right into our living rooms and asking us the same question. "What about you, who do you say I am?"
So, today's riddle and question are about life and death. They are actual Jesus words.
Food for thought:

"He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

"Do you believe this?"

These quotes and stories are found in the Bible -- in John, Chapter 11 (verse 25) and Mark Chapter 9.