Resurrection ~ 20090412 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

4/12/2009 Resurrection Sunday

I am the resurrection and the life

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus said 'I am the resurrection and the life' [Jn.11:25]. I'd like to look at the context of that statement and see what we can learn about Jesus and his resurrection.

John 11

1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. [cf. Matt.26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; Jn.12:1-8; not Luke 7:37-39, 44-48] 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

Notice that this man's illness was for a purpose. Although Jesus knew that the illness would lead to death, that was not the ultimate purpose for the illness. God had in mind something much bigger. We don't always see God's purpose in our circumstances, but we can be sure that he is in control and he is good. 'It is for the glory of God'. The ultimate purpose for this man's illness that would lead to his death was to provide an opportunity for the Son of God to be glorified.

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

This is not at all what we would expect. Jesus loved these people. They were close friends. He cared deeply for them. But instead of rushing to be a help and comfort, he intentionally delayed two days. We are not told if there was any pressing business in Perea that prevented him from coming immediately - and it is irrelevant. He gives no excuse. He was subject not to the wishes of his friends or the urgency of the situation or even his own emotional attachment, but only to the will of his Father.

7 Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." 8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."

Bethany was dangerously close to Jerusalem – about 2 miles away. It was just the last chapter that Jesus claimed "I and the Father are one" [10:30], and the Jews accused him of blasphemy "because you, being a man, make yourself God" [10:33]. It says "Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands" [10:39]. Now after having so narrowly escaped, his disciples are concerned that he is walking back into danger.

11 After saying these things, he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him." 12 The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."

Jesus referred to death as sleep, and his mission to awaken from sleep. Bethany was about a day's journey from Perea, and Jesus knew that Lazarus had died shortly after the messengers had been sent to reach him. They took a day to arrive, Jesus delayed two days, and it took a fourth day for Jesus to travel to Bethany, so that when he arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Although he loved Lazarus and his sisters, and would want to spare them grief, Jesus, who would weep at the grave of his friend, says "I am glad that I was not there". He could have spared his friends some grief. He could have healed from a distance, as he had done on other occasions, but he had a higher purpose in mind. It was for the sake of the disciples - that you may believe.

16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

Thomas was grim and pessimistic, but devoted. And he was right. He knew what lay ahead, and yet he was determined to die with Jesus rather than to live without him

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."

Martha expressed her confidence in Jesus. When they had sent the message they had not said 'come at once' or 'we need you to heal our brother'. Their message was simply 'Lord, he whom you love is ill'. They acknowledged him as Lord - as master, the one in control. They recognized his loving care - he whom you love'. And they gave him the facts, and left it to his discretion to do what was best - he is ill. Martha here expresses her confidence in Jesus' power over sickness and even death. You could have prevented his death, for God always gives you whatever you ask. Jesus pointed her to the resurrection. Martha assumed that Jesus was giving comfort by stating the fact - your brother will rise again. Martha knew her theology. There is a coming resurrection. One day, all who have died will be brought to life again. Scriptures like:

Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Ezekiel 37:12-14 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

But look what Jesus says to her:

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life..."

This is one of the great 'I AM' statements of the gospels. Jesus takes up the words he spoke to Moses from the burning bush. He is the great I AM of the Old Testament. Martha is thinking of a far-distant future eschatalogical resurrection, and Jesus, standing in front of her says "I am the resurrection". Resurrection is standing in front of you. I am the life. The living one is here.

" him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." [Colossians 1:16-17];

"He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power" [Hebrews 1:3].

This Jesus, "was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life..." [John 1:2-4].

The life giving omnipotent creator was standing in front of this grieving woman, and he is seeking to turn her attention to who he is.

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Death is not the issue. If you are trusting in Jesus, your life is such that it will continue even beyond the grave. 'The moment a man puts his trust in Jesus he begins to experience that life of the age to come which cannot be touched by death' [Morris, NICNT p.550]. Jesus concludes with a challenge: Do you believe this? Jesus is not arguing philosophical possibilities. This is a saving truth to be embraced and acted upon.

27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."

Martha's answer is incredible. She is moving beyond belief in an idea and embracing the identity of this person who was speaking to her. You are the promised Jewish Messiah King. You are the divine Son of God. You are the God-man who entered history.

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?" 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"

Notice how Jesus connects the glory of God with eternal life. He says 'did I not tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?' What he had said was "whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life, and everyone who lives and believes in me hall never die." Here he summarizes this concept of life as seeing the glory of God. This corresponds with Jesus' definition of eternal life in

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.


41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me." 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is the life. Jesus can speak to a deceased decaying corpse and command it to come out of the grave, and it has no choice but to obey. Jesus is the life giver, the one who has life in himself.

Jesus likens his death and resurrection to a grain of wheat. His death and resurrection is the means for him to bear much fruit, and thus to be glorified.

John 12:23-24 And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Did you ever notice how central the glory of God is in the bible?

John 13:31-32 When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.

Let's look into how Jesus is glorified in the resurrection. Jump back to chapter 10. In verses 10-11, Jesus claims to be the good shepherd, and he defines the good shepherd as the one who gives abundant life to his sheep.

John 10:10-11 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

There and in verse 15, he defines the good shepherd as the one who lays down his life for the sheep:

John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Verses 17-18 are staggering:

John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

Jesus has authority over his own life. He has the authority to lay down his life, and he has the authority to take it up again. My wife has worked in hospice caring for patients as they die. Some go unexpectedly quickly; others drag on and on. The person has no power over their death. It can be hours, it can drag on for months. Only God controls death.

Job 14:5 Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,

Psalms 39:4-5 “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!

Jesus had authority over his own life and death. This is what Jesus told Pilate in John 19:

John 19:10-11 So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above....

John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

But even more stunning is his statement that he has the power to take up his life again.

John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

A dead person cannot even close his own eyes. You can't administer CPR to yourself. But Jesus said he had the power to take up his own life.

Look at how awesome Jesus is. Lazarus was sick and he could do nothing to prevent his own death. His sisters were helpless to prevent his death. No one could take Jesus' life from him. He laid it down of his own will. Lazarus being dead was utterly incapable of doing anything about his situation. It was the word of Jesus that woke him from his sleep and brought him out of the tomb. In fact, Lazarus, after he was brought to life by the power of God, was helpless to escape from his own grave clothes. Jesus instructed those around to set him free. So we, who have been born again to newness of life, must have the continued influence of the Holy Spirit to release us from the 'sin which clings so closely' [Heb.12:1].

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Jesus, after taking up his own life again, needed no one to loose him from his grave clothes. When Peter and John came to the tomb, they 'saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been of Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.' [Jn.20:6-7]

Jesus instructed the bystanders to take away the stone from the entrance of the grave so that Lazarus could come out. But for Jesus, a one-and-a-half to two ton stone, the official seal of the Roman empire, and the armed Roman guard were no obstacle.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In his resurrection we see his glory. But there are two responses to the glory of God. Look back to John 11

John 11:45-48, 53 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." ... 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

John 12:9-11 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

There are two responses when we see the glory of God on display in the person of Jesus. We cannot say 'oh, that's nice' and walk away. Either we embrace Jesus for all that he is, or we feel threatened by his claim to absolute authority and seek to destroy the evidence.

Where are you?

John 20:30-31 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.