Sean Connery was the first James Bond, and some still say he was the best, though he played the part in the sixties. When he left, for reasons that he did not want to be typecast and never be able to play anything but Bond, he is reported to have said, “Never again.” Of course, roughly twelve years later, in 1983, he played Bond again in a movie titled “Never Say Never Again.”
This passage, like no other says we cannot know the future. It says however improbable or however unlikely something may be, nothing is impossible. It suggests as long as we don’t quit in this life, God won’t quit on us, so we must never count anything out. And it says to us, the right approach to life is to never give up and never surrender, which is, never say never.
Going into the story, Jesus was the only one who knew what it was all about. Everyone else thought they knew, but they were all proved wrong. The sisters, Martha and Mary, sent for Jesus when Lazarus was only sick. They knew Jesus was a great healer, but they did not fully understand who Jesus was. They both said the same thing when he finally arrived. If you had been here, my brother would not have died. Some of the people who came out to mourn felt the same way. Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?
The disciples thought they could predict the future as well. Jesus was being hunted in Judea. His life was on the line, so when Jesus finally told them plainly that Lazarus was dead, they did not argue against going, but melancholy Thomas had something to say. Let us also go, that we may die with him.
None of them understood, you see? Even after Jesus told Martha that he was the resurrection and the life, and even after she confessed her belief that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, she still did not get it. I mean, you die and you are dead, right? That is the way it goes, right? And no one can do a thing about that, right? When Mary ran out, the others followed because they thought she was going to mourn at the graveside. I mean, what else do you do for the dead, but mourn for their loss?
Jesus wept, and I would think so. But I don’t think he wept for his love for Lazarus. Certainly he loved the man, but he knew full well what he was going to do and what was going to happen. No, I think he wept for all the living because none of them got it!
We cannot know the future. None of these people knew the future – or could guess what great thing God had in mind. They would have done well to remember that no matter how improbably, no matter how unlikely, nothing is impossible for God. Pause a minute and let that sink into your life.
For us, for most of life, we generally deal with things a bit less spectacular. Our issues are rarely life and death issues, but we mourn for the loss of things all the time. We give up on things, on people, on situations, sometimes daily. We say things like you can’t turn back the clock, or as Scrooge tried to tell the Christmas ghosts, “I’m too old to change.”
A man loses his childhood home and believes there is a hole in his heart that can never be filled. But God is in the filling business if we let him.
A couple separates and maybe divorces, and they mourn the loss of each other and feel they will never be able to trust or be happy again. But God is in the happiness business, if we wait on him.
A person suffers through the death of a spouse or the death of a child and believes there is a gaping hole in their soul that can never be healed. But God is in the healing business.
I don’t blame the people back then for finding it hard to believe what Jesus plainly told them. He said, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?
Do we believe this? Because that is the message. We must never count anything out. God is able to do above and beyond all that we may ask or think, and all things are possible for those who believe and are called according to God’s purposes. Do we really believe this?
The truth is, time after time we give up so easily. We surrender and embrace our pain because it looks like us. Instead, we should remember that nothing is impossible for God. The least, and sometimes the most we can do is not give up on life so God has the opportunity to not give up on us.
As the man said, we should never give up and never surrender. We should trust God in the process. What tomorrow may bring, God alone knows. Jesus, is standing at the door, knocking. Let him in, trust him, believe what he says and affirm this much, that God is able, and because of that we must never say never again.