This weekend I had the chance to take my confirmation class to a service at a pentecostal church. It was quite a change from the traditional presbyterian worship we are used to and for the kids in the class it was quiet the change and almost shocking. If you aren't familiar with the Pentecostal church, a focus of much of their belief is focused on the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.
But the focus of our scripture this afternoon is Jesus. Who Jesus is, what authority he has, and what happens after the final resurrection. Jesus in our passage is talking about the time that is coming when he will call out to the dead. And those dead shall hear his voice and they’ll live again! Pretty impressive stuff right? To think that something that is dead may live again?
But what if those who Jesus is speaking of here are not actually dead? If they haven’t really ceased to be? In studying John I have read and heard John’s Gospel described as the “Spiritual” Gospel. The other three clearly are similar and systematically lay out who Jesus was, what he did and why he did it. John; takes a spiritual road. In John, God is Love, and Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness to show that love. Jesus here in our passage is life giver and life bringer, he will raise the dead to life and be their judge.
Jesus used the word dead in two senses in this passage. He uses it to address those who are spiritually dead, and also to address those who truly are dead but will be raised on the Judgement Day. I want to focus on spiritual death. Jesus main focus is to those around him who have stopped trying, stopped listening and stopped feeling and stopped repenting. These are all things that someone who is physically alive SHOULD do, but doesn't ALWAYS do.
Having faith in Jesus requires we have an active faith. A faith that hears Jesus’ voice, and then feels the spirit move that faith into action. John’s Gospel is the Gospel of Jesus’ “I am” statements. I am the vine… I am the bread of life…We then should be a people of “We are…” We are followers of Christ. We are redeemed. When we come before Christ on that day, will he say well done, good and faithful servant? Or will he say why did you stop trying listening and feeling for others.
In sitting down to write this meditation for today, I thought about that visit to the pentecostal church. IF anything, they are spirit filled. Something we Presbyterians (my ordaining denomination) aren’t used to. But the preacher touched on the most famous verse of scripture. A scripture that sums up John’s larger context of Love. God so loved the world he sent his only begotten Son.(John 3:16) Will we hear the voice of the Son and be raised from the dead? Will we be filled with the spirit?