Now and Then
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what is meant for today.”
Martha’s grieving response to Jesus’ reassurance, that her brother would rise again, was to affirm her conviction that he would indeed rise, “in the resurrection on the last day”.
The criminal being crucified alongside Jesus expressed a similar belief, when in desperate pain he turns to Jesus and simply says “Remember me when you finally become king.”
But in both cases the presumption is that these things lie at some point in the (probably distant) future; the day when every eye will see Jesus revealed as king, and all the dead are raised.
Yet in both cases Jesus directly undercuts their well-established theological perspective.
To Martha Jesus declares that “You don’t have to wait until then. I am the resurrection…” (Jn 11:25 TPT version) and then proceeds to prophetically demonstrate this by calling Lazarus out of his tomb.
And to the dying criminal, Jesus’s answer was (to use Tim Mackie’s beautiful paraphrase): “I’ll see you in the garden later today.” (Lk 23:43)
Don’t put off until tomorrow what is meant for today.
We find a similar fusion of the future and the present throughout the New Testament. (It even has its own theological term: ‘realised eschatology’.)
We will occupy positions of authority alongside Jesus in the age to come (2 Tim 2:12), yet we are already seated there with him now (Eph 2:6).
On that day we will be raised in power & glory (1 Cor 15:43), but we are already straining to know the ‘power of his resurrection’ (Phil 3:10) and beginning to tastethe powers of the age to come (Heb 6:5)
I simply do not know how much of that future fulness–of–life I can know now; how much can be realised and released, in me and through me, in this age. But of this I am convinced; it is more than I dare to ask or imagine. The words of Jesus, and the impetus of his Spirit, compel me to yearn for more; ‘To grasp the hope into which you are drawing me, the glory of your inheritance among your people and your unparalleled power for me as I trust you.’ (Eph 1:17ff)
Now and then? Master, I will not cease praying for more of your ‘then’ to invade my ‘now’.