Can These Bones Live?
The psalmist wrote this beautiful cry to God, the De profundis:
Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice;
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss,
O Lord, who could stand?
For there is forgiveness with you;
therefore you shall be feared. (Psalm 130:1-3)
Have we every been in a place where we become so aware of our sins that we give up hope of ever overcoming them? The Prophet Ezekiel had almost given up on Israel. But God intervened;
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:1-6)
We might give up on ourselves. We may even give up on God, but God does not give up on us. Martha had almost given up on Jesus. Her brother Lazarus had died and she knew that Jesus could have intervened. Reading from John’s Gospel:
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” (John 11:20-27)
“Can these bones live?” – God asked the prophet. He asked Martha the same thing. And he asks us! Will we take the opportunity to listen to his answer? That may depend on our current thinking. The Apostle Paul wrote the Church in Rome:
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law– indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. (Romans 8:6-11)
God can give us life. Our bones can live. We are not bound by our past mistakes. We can live in newness of life. Paul writes:
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:1-6)
Why do we go one sinning when God has forgiven us and remitted our sins by the blood of his Son We are not a slave to sin. Satan is lying is lying to us. He constantly accuses us. He wants us to believe that we are unworthy of God’s grace and mercy.
God is on our side. He has plenty of redemption for us. We need not be discouraged or distraught. Things are not hopeless. The psalmist tells us:
O Israel, wait for the Lord,
for with the Lord there is mercy;
With him there is plenteous redemption,
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins. (Psalm 130:6-7)
We have the good news of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. God can restore us. Our bones can live. He can raise us up. Jesus told Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life.” Today, he asks us as he asked Martha: “Do you believe this?”
When Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus:
Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Today, God wants to unbind us from the past and set us free. Are we ready? All we have to do is to believe him, and keep on believing him. When we stumble, we can confess our sins. And then we can get up and being again, putting our trust in him. Paul wrote the Church at Philippi:
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)