Scripture: John 11:1-27 (NIV)
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
If you follow any sort of science fiction show or franchise (and this especially goes for the superhero realm), you know that death is never the final answer. If a character is popular, they are going to wind up coming back one way or another through technology or science or sheer magic.
Star Wars hasn’t gone to that well too often, but there are occasional glimpses of this. (Obi-Wan would seem the most obvious one, but in fairness he did stay dead, he just was able to communicate to Luke after becoming one with the Force.) The main example of this, though, comes from the cartoon series. You may believe that Darth Maul was killed by Obi-Wan on Naboo in The Phantom Menace, but in actuality his hatred kept him alive and, through machinations that we don’t fully understand, wound up on a garbage planet where he wound up getting attached to a spider-like lower body. Twists and turns later and Maul becomes a fearsome villain throughout The Clone Wars and Rebels before finally meeting his true end just recently.
For us on this earth, death really is the end. There’s no time travel, there’s no willing yourself to live after a mortal injury, there are no clones or cyborg bodies. Yet occasionally, in Bible times, people found themselves returned to life via the power of Christ.
We read about the most famous one today, with Lazarus coming out of the grave at the mere command of Jesus. It’s the most powerful miracle Jesus performed, pulling someone out of the afterlife to return to the living. For once, death wasn’t the final word, at least not this time.
Of course, now we know that death is not the final word for us either. We will not be seen again on this earth after we breath our last, but we will have eternal life with our Heavenly Father. It’s not a trope, it’s not a gimmick, it’s actually true: death has no hold on us!