Jesus is Resurrection and Life
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead confirming He is the resurrection and the life. He also demonstrates He truly is the Son of God, shows us that He has the power to dissipate all darkness, and can fix all that is wrong with our world.
In every good book, play, and movie there are 3 basic acts. There’s the introduction where you get to know the characters and your interest is hooked, then there’s the early struggle, the early conflict that once it’s resolved leads to a ascending 3rd act. The 2nd act has to be important, but it can’t be as big as the final act. No one wants to watch a movie where the superhero beats the bad guy in the middle of the movie and then spends the last 30 minutes buying groceries.
What’s been happening in the Gospel of John has been important, however it’s been setting the stage for the final act. That’s what we are transitioning into today, the final chapter.
The final section of the Gospel of John is the most important.
Now, were in the end of chapter 10 and there are 21 chapters in the Gospel of John, so it’s not that we are near the end of the material, but rather it’s that we are nearing the end of Jesus’ life but John has given an incredible amount of focus on the final week to 10 days of Jesus’ life.
There are 2 main events that bring about the transition into the final chapter or the 3rd act of the life story of Jesus. The first takes place at the end of Jesus’ message about being the good shepherd, which we looked at last week.
Read John 10:26-31 with me.
Now this has happened before, but it’s yet another breaking point that the Jews have come to. They pick up stones to kill Jesus but he slips away. This happens again and again. Jesus demonstrates that if He wants to get away, He can. Jesus even says here in this chapter that no man can take his life, he will lay it down.
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
So Jesus slips off into the countryside again, but a crisis calls him back to the greater Jerusalem area and what he does then really sets his execution in motion.
Look at 11:48-53
For the Pharisees, who held positions of power in many religious and political offices under the Romans, Jesus was a threat to their hope of rebuilding Jerusalem. They were desperate to hold onto this place of power and what they believed was Jerusalem’s real hope- political victory. They never ask, is this really the Son of God. The Pharisees weren’t concerned with, “what’s right?” Rather, they decided what’s best for them.
When we like the reality we are living in, even if it’s false, we’ll cling to it with all that we have.
In the book Problem of God, Mark Clark talks about how his grandfather fell prey to what a lot of older people find themselves in, some people came along and pretended to care for him, and convinced him to sell his house, buy a house for all of them to live in, so they could care for him.
Mark Clark and his brother went to talk to their grandfather and while they had proof that the people were taking advantage of him for his money, Mark’s grandfather wouldn’t see it.
It’s not that he couldn’t see, it’s that he wouldn’t.
When I read that, it reminded me of a similar situation with a man I knew. Mr Brooks was a stern man. In his older years some people pulled the same ruse. However, Mr Brooks snapped one day and no longer wanted to play their game. The straw that broke the camels back was that they kept feeding him baloney sandwiches.
Sometimes I’m kind of perplexed at what finally pushes people to recognize that the reality they’ve been clinging to is false, but whatever it is, I’m thankful for it. Even if it is baloney sandwiches.
So maybe you’re here today and you’ve realized that you’ve been looking at everything wrong, let me challenge you. Don’t go looking for another convenient reality. Don’t go looking for a pleasant reality. Look for the truth, no matter how pleasant.
Don’t look to be alright, look for what’s right.
By the way, the reality that many people want to cling onto, because it is so convenient, is that if you’re religious, it’s pretty much all the same, right? I mean, you have your church and I have my synagogue or mosque or meeting house, but it’s really just the same, right? “We’re in the same ballpark.” We are not on the same planet.
It all hinges on this question, is Jesus the Son of God? If He is, that changes everything. It’s either true or a lie.
If it’s true, it changes everything. It’s incredibly important. It’s the most important fact in the universe.
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
– C. S. Lewis
My hope is that today’s message will make it clear and compelling that Jesus is the Son of God, that you can know him, love him, and trust him. So what was the event that prompts this conversation near the end of chapter 11?
I wish we had time to break down the first 15 verses of chapter 11, but just know that there was a friend of Jesus named Lazarus. He lived near Jerusalem and had 2 sisters, Mary and Martha. He became suddenly very ill and near death. However, they were friends of Jesus, so they sent for Him. After all, he’s the guy that has healed sick people, even people blind from birth.
Jesus waited before going to Lazarus.
If Jesus can reverse a lifelong condition, surely he can overcome a sudden and unexpected sickness. Jesus gets the message and waits. Waits. It’s only after Lazarus dies that Jesus heads toward his house.
I can only imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Martha over the course of those days where the messenger returns with word that he found Jesus and told him.. they would have been watching for Jesus all that time… Jesus doesn’t show. Lazarus dies.
Let’s read John 11:20-27
Now, I know that some of you have been in those moments that Mary and Martha found themselves in where their loved one is sick and dying and they are wondering where God is at… Why hasn’t Jesus shown up!? There’s a powerful thing that takes place in this passage in that Jesus pushes through all of the spiritual platitudes that are offered up in moments like this…
Martha says, I know that the father will do whatever you ask. I still know that even though I don’t understand this… This is Martha’s version of “There’s a reason for everything…” and “I know he’s in a better place” and “We’ll see him again.”
Jesus pushes against this and gives us this powerful I am statement.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
Now, throughout our look at the Gospel of John we’ve talked about what John constantly refer to as life. Not the days in which we live, but the life in our days. It’s the experience of life with a supernatural connection.
This past summer I got to preach at our National Convention. It was a message I really poured myself into. After it was over, I felt satisfied with it. My parents had come to the convention, which they don’t do, but this year they decided to attend. After the service we went to a restaurant and with my family and friends I had what may have been the best steak I’ve ever eaten in my life.
In that moment, talking with people I love, feeling like I had accomplished God called me to do in that moment, enjoying great food, and listening to my children laugh with their cousins, I had this bubbling sense of gratitude.
Now, a sick and twisted, violent and degenerate person can enjoy a good steak, enjoy the company of friends, and love their kids…
You don’t have to know Jesus to appreciate those things…
But that gratitude I tapped into in that moment, it was the same that I’ve felt in the hospital waiting room praying with the grandparents who know their granddaughter is dead a few rooms down… It wasn’t about the circumstances, it was about the hope that runs underneath all of it… I don’t mean to say that I was happy in the waiting room, I wasn’t. Instead, I was grief stricken.
You can remain tapped into this hope while angry, happy, grief-stricken, and even bewildered.
Jesus shows us this. Read John 11:32-38
No one here in this moment knows better than Jesus that Lazarus will live again. No one knows better than Jesus what awaits Lazarus on the other side of death. After all, Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Yet he mourns.
You can be fully convinced of the truth of Jesus and tapped into His hope and meaning and still grieve.
He also shows us that you can have hope and still be frustrated, groan at the brokenness, and be angry at the effect of sin.
Wednesday will mark the 18th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. One of the moments in the aftermath that sticks out to me is that President Bush went down to the site of the towers and was speaking to the first responders and volunteers and standing on the rubble he was speaking through a megaphone and some people on the side yelled, WE CANT HEAR YOU! He looked in their direction and said, “Well, know that I can hear YOU and soon the people did this will hear from all of US!”
It was a time in our country where grief mixed with anger. We were sad but we wanted justice.
I think that’s what Jesus was feeling in that moment. A friend of his had died and he was sad, but he wanted justice. He wanted this to be fixed. You know what sets apart Christianity? Its belief in a God who has come to us and can hear us… We believe in a God who came to make it right…
Jesus fixes what’s broken!
Every other religion in the world tells you that the world is broken and there’s something better, and it might even tell you how to fix it, but then it leaves it up to you to fix it. Jesus came, felt the indignation and grief and fixed it!
Christ didn’t come to show us the way to life, He is the life! He is the way! He is the truth!
Jesus didn’t just come and say, you know someone really ought to do something about this! Jesus isn’t a God who lays on us burdens of rules and yokes of rituals, rather He is the God who has come to give us life! John’s gospel is all about showing us the miracles of Jesus and he’s given us 6 so far:
7 Miracles of John’s Gospel
- Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2
- Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4
- Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5
- Feeding the 5000 in John 6
- Jesus walking on water in John 6
- Healing the man blind from birth in John 9
- The raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45
38Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Our Savior demonstrates total dominion over the power of death.
Jesus tells a dead man to arise and Lazarus obeys! You know what’s amazing about Jesus, He didn’t come to have this struggle with evil, sin and death that he needed to be on his A game for… He told death to leave.
There isn’t a montage here of Jesus training really hard for a show down with death, he tells the dead man to arise. He doesn’t even address death specifically… That’s power! That’s majesty!
Jesus didn’t put in the work so that one day, some day things could be different, no it was in that moment! When Martha is talking to Jesus, she says I know Lazarus will arise one day, Jesus says, no today! Martha says, yes Lord I believe. Then she says, Jesus are you sure you want to roll back the stone. He stinks…
God, are you sure you know what you’re doing? YES! HE’s the GOD of the UNIVERSE! HE has power over death!
Jesus says in His prayer, I have not said these things for your sake, but so that you might believe… Sometimes when people pray they might be talking to God but they’re saying it for your benefit. It’s like Haven praying, “Please help Lincoln to share” Jesus says, these things are so that you might believe!
Jesus can dissipate all the darkness.
On the Sunday of September 11th, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York had so many people show up for service that there was no place to sit. Pastor Tim Keller went o the microphone and said, all of you who do not have a place to sit, please come back in 90 minutes and we will do this again. His text for that Sunday, just blocks away from the devastation of the twin towers, as people were still searching for survivors, Keller preached on this text.
He specifically pointed at the emotions Jesus felt of sadness and anger. In that message he says that he has this recurring bad dream where his wife has died and he’s alone. He said, you what’s weird? I have kind of come to like this dream, because the moment you wake up and realize it was just a bad dream is the most wonderful feeling in the world…
I want you to think about all the heartache that Mary and Martha must have felt watching their brother die. Think about the anger they must have felt watching the street for Jesus and he didn’t show up. The moment that Lazarus walked out of that tomb, all of that dissipates. It’s like a bad dream.
Faith builds hope!
The way that we have this hope, is through belief. That’s the reason Jesus asks Martha, Do you believe this? I ask you. Do you believe this? Do you believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life?
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