. I am the resurrection and the life

I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.


John 11:37-44 (ESV) 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?” 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.”


We have spent the last 6 days on the story of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. We have said a lot about the background information regarding the Jews and how they did things and understood things. We’ve already seen the preparation for the miracle in the opening 16 verses, which of course was the story of Lazarus and his sisters living in the town of Bethany two miles east of Jerusalem, around the Mount of Olives, village, really Bethany means house of the poor. We focussed much on the deity of Jesus and the uniqueness of Jesus. We looked at His claim that He is the resurrection and the life, and Martha’s understanding thereof. We have been challenged whether we believe, because if we do, we will not die, but live forever, but if we do not believe we will rise to everlasting damnation.

So, we have the crowd at the grave and there is Mary, Martha and Jesus, and the stage is set for Jesus to through His works put on display His divinity and the Father’s glory.

Now, we know that only God has the power to give life.  It is ludicrous to imagine that people have that power. As I mentioned yesterday there are some self-proclaimed healers who want you to believe that they can raise the dead and have raised many.  I remember a faith healer who came to Polokwane a few years ago and the Poster Add said: “Come hear …… the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk and the dead will be raised.” And I thought to myself, what arrogance? Nothing about Jesus. They have many stories to tell, that has never, ever even been close to being verified.

Now, why does He raise this man from the dead?  Why does He do that?  To strengthen the faith of His disciples in Him. He also did the raising of Lazarus to give a preview of His own resurrection, which would come only in a few days, probably around a week and a half before His own resurrection.  He also did the resurrection of Lazarus to demonstrate a promise He made in John 5:28 -29 that He had the power of life and one day would raise all the dead in all the graves of the globe. All people who have ever lived will be raised, some under the resurrection of life, some under the resurrection of condemnation or damnation.  This is also a demonstration of the power that He will use to raise your body and mine, unless He returns before we die.

So, now, we turn to the resurrection as well and on day 7 of our devotions we see Lazarus raised from the dead. Now, Lazarus was buried in a cave, with a stone in front of it. Now in verse 38 Jesus tells them to take the stone away. He could have supernaturally removed the stone, but Jesus is not about antics but about the Father’s glory. He asks them to take away the stone and after He raises Lazarus from the grave, He tells them to untie Lazarus. This has always been the pattern of Jesus. He allows man to do what man can, and He does what man cannot. Remember the story when they made a hole in the roof of a house and let down a lame man. But Jesus healed Him. They cannot raise Lazarus from the dead, but they roll away the stone and they can unwrap him. That is how God works in His Kingdom. For example, we share the Gospel, we reason from the Scriptures, but only God can save a sinner.

There is no fanfare here, no angels showing up, no trumpet blows.  There is no orchestra, no drum beating every time Jesus says something or a few keys on a keyboard. It is not staged as we saw a while ago on that video when that prophet raised a living man from the dead. There is no worship team building up the emotions for the event to take place, in the right atmosphere, in the flow. The whole miracle is to confirm the statement of Jesus in verse 25.  “I am the resurrection.  I am the life.” All He needs to do that is two words, the name ‘Lazarus’ and a verb. And those two words literally unleash the same power that created the universe, that same power that raise Jesus from the dead, that is now working in us, as it is Christ who works in us. Jesus makes statements of spiritual reality, and then illustrates them in a physical way.  “I am the resurrection.” Here is a resurrection to prove it. “I am the bread of life”. He feeds the multitude and proves it. “I am the light of the world.” He makes the blind man see, one chapter earlier.

So, let us look at this miracle. I apologise for keeping Lazarus in the grave for 7 days. It is really only four days. The tomb is surrounded by believers and unbelievers. People from the community will join the gathering to sympathise with their friends. Just as we have at our funerals. That is why I always include the Gospel in my funeral preaching. And you are surrounded by people who have rejected Him and do not believe in Him. Jesus knows that surrounded by unbelieving people, all are going to die, all are going to suffer the loss of people they care about and they love, and most of them are going to be catapulted into eternal hell.  This is a massive burden for Him to bear, and that is why the language is so graphic, as we pointed out last time.  He is deeply moved, and He is seriously troubled. I have often said that I get so angry with pastors or people when they attend the funeral of an atheist and say, ‘he is in a better place now.’

There are a few things that come to our attention at the grave.

Firstly, there is confusion among the people. The people shared the thoughts of Martha and Mary. John 11:37 (ESV) 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Let us try and identify with them, and this is critical. Jesus weeps because He loved Lazarus, so why did He not pitch when Lazarus was sick. If He was willing to give sight to a stranger, why not heal His own friend. Fits with our common argument “why do bad things happen to good people?” Right?  So, based on what they saw, their confusion is understandable. Remember our arguments. Why did this person or that person die? They were such a saint. I know Johan Hulshof is listening now. Is that not what we said about Brenda? And so, many others listening this morning can identify.

Listen church family and friends, if you are going to judge everything from human perspective confusion will reign. But if you could see it from Christ’s perspective you will know that He operates within the Father’s purpose.  He knows exactly what is going on and His timing and the outcome is absolutely perfect whether we understand it or not. He does not have to tell us the plan, He does not have to tell us the duration. A few chapters on you can read the words of Jesus in John 13:7 (ESV) 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Jesus already knows that this is for the glory of God. Remember John 11:4 (ESV) 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.Whenever I pray next to a death bed or where people are in difficult circumstances, I pray for the Glory of God to be revealed, instead of telling God what to do. That is a sure way to pray at the centre of God’s will. So, Christ knows God’s plan, we do not.

 

Secondly, there is a problem.

 

So, Jesus filled with utmost emotions arrives at the tomb. John 11:38 (ESV) 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.” This time the Greek word for deeply moved is different. It is the Greek word (embrimaomai) meaning to be moved with anger, or to snort. It is kind of releasing the agony that He feels over death, unbelief, and judgment. Jesus had a concern for the people there. Now Jesus goes to the tomb. I had the privilege twice of visiting the tomb that they claim is the tomb of Lazarus. I have no idea, but it might be legitimate based on generational transfer. So, they would cover the entrance to the tomb with a stone, to keep animals and people out, and I guess the stench in. Based on Jewish tradition they would wrap the body, wrap the hands, wrap the feet, wrap the head in a cloth, and sprinkled spices on it. Decomposition, as I pointed out in our devotions happened very rapidly and within four days you would smell the rotting body. Martha was not eager for the stone to be rolled away, for that simple reason. She reminds Christ that he already ‘stinketh’.

 

She is obviously still doubting or not seeing the big picture. She is still frustrated that Lazarus went beyond his heal by date. She and Mary both believed that Jesus could heal him, but neither saw a resurrection coming. They saw the words of Jesus that “their brother would rise again” as futuristic. Martha knew that he would rise again in the resurrection. Jesus then tells her what we read in John 11:40 (ESV) 40 Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’” This is not something future.  You are going to see it if you will just believe.  You said you were a believer.  You believed in Me, now believe in the Glory of my father, in the depth of your circumstance. Is this not something that we need to learn?

I am sure we can understand her confusion.  We would like to think that if we were there, we might have risen to great heights of faith and never had a question about it.  But her problem is: she has got her thoughts on the corpse, rather than the Christ, she has her thoughts on the power of death rather than the Christ of Life.

So, there is confusion among the people.

 

So thirdly we see the promise in verse 40 of the Glory of God. All Hebrews knew about the Glory of God revealed. How did you see the glory of God in the garden?  Shekinah glory.  How did you see the glory of God in the wilderness of Israel in a pillar of fire and cloud?  God manifested His glory. God’s glory was manifest in several ways throughout the history of the Old Testament.  And then in the New Testament, the glory of God came in a body, the person of Jesus Christ.  And on the Mount of Transfiguration, He was transfigured, and they saw the glory of God shining through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the ineffable reality of His excellence reduced to light.

Well, God is going to put His glory on display here, only this is going to be by miracle power.  You are going to see His glory not as a shining light; you are going to see His glory as life itself. The fullness of His attributes is going to be put on display. You say you believe.  Then get your eyes off the corpse and focus on Christ.  Set your heart on the Lord.  Wait to see the glory revealed.  We need to always live in that kind of expectancy.  We are not looking for miracles, but when you really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you see Him display His glory throughout all your life. You see His glory every day, in what He made and what He does. We see His glory in all our situations.

 

Fourthly we see the prayer of Christ.

John 11:41-42 (ESV) 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.”

He did not have to say that to the Father.  The Father knew His relationship with the Son.  He is not asking the Father to do anything.  There is no petition there.  Some people miss that, and they say, well, He asked the Father to give Him the power to, no He did not.  He did not ask for anything.  I thank You that You have heard Me, that You have heard Me.  About what?  Letting My glory be put on display.  The Father always hears Him. This is the same as the Holy Spirit interceding for us with groanings we cannot express according to Romans 8. The Father always hears the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit prays according to the will of the Father. He knows what the Father will do. Let us remember again the purpose of the Gospel of John, which is so that we will believe and in believing have life.

So, He is praying, in a sense, publicly for the benefit of the people, not for the benefit of God, who is already in perfect agreement about what is going to happen.  If He had not said these words so everybody could hear, the crowd would not have been able to give God and Christ the appropriate glory for this event.

 

Fifthly, we see the power of Christ.

John 11:43-44 (ESV) 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.”

The Greek says: “He yelled in a loud voice with a loud voice.” Why the double statement?  He is literally at the pinnacle of His voice, and He had a powerful voice, you can be certain.  He was a teacher.  He taught every day.  He taught in the open air, no amplification, except that which was natural.  He could speak to crowds of 20,000 people and be heard.  He had a powerful voice and He yells at the top of His voice without distorting His words and says, “Lazarus, come out.”

This resurrection comes as an immediate response to His words.  He says two words: Lazarus, and come out, and the miracle happens.

Can you imagine the pounding hearts, the emotion, the amazement to His word? There was no fanfare, working on emotions, preparing people for the miracle time, hyping up the emotions with singing and entering glory, as I often hear worship leaders and pastors say. Jesus simply yells, “Lazarus, come out,” and verse 44 says: “44 The man who had died came out.” That is so simple and straightforward.  But this is God, and for Him, a resurrection is easy.  The man came out.  Now it was not easy for him to come out as he was still bound with linen. How did he get out of there? I do not know. I can think of many scenarios, but all you need to know is that he had the power to be where he needed to be.  He came out.  The grave had been plundered.  The king of terrors had yielded up his lawful captive.  The insatiable grave had given up its prey.

Death has been defeated, the grave has been conquered, it had no victory, death had lost its sting, Christ has conquered, the Father is glorified and Christ is glorified, and everybody should know now, that He is the resurrection and the life, and so everyone who dies in Christ is raised up on the last day.

Then Jesus says: “Unbind him and let him go.”

Again, He calls man to do what man can do, but Jesus does what God alone can do.

The last thing we see for today is in John 11:45 (ESV) 45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in Him,” God’s purpose was achieved, God was glorified as many believed, but not all believed. Tomorrow we will look at the fall out. That might take us two or three days. I just pray that you see the Glory of God in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do you believe in Him? Have you bowed your knee before Him? If not, I invite you to come to Him who is the resurrection and the life, and to find life to the full.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 19 July 2020