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Laying Down Suffering for Resurrection Life

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In this life, everyone will suffer and come face to face with the enemy of death. While to some life may seem pointless, Jesus comes to us during our time of suffering and sorrow and replaces it with resurrection life. His life becomes our own, and we find purpose, a new identity, and a new perspective.

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Universal Law of Cause and Effect

Have you ever thought of what causes you to wake up every morning? If you're lucky, you might say the cause is a full night's worth of sleep that eventually wakes up your body. But what about the nights when we have something important to do early the next day, and we decide to stay up later than usual? Instead of letting your body wake up naturally, you set your alarm for work/school and then only get four to five hours of sleep. What do you think are the effects that impact your body then? Sleep deprivation, moodiness, imbalance diet, and health problems.
Universal Law of Cause and Effect
The scientific community calls this the universal law of cause and effect. With everything that occurs in the world, there must be a first cause for the event to take place. To illustrate an example, let's say I'm searching through my refrigerator for milk so I can make myself a bowl of cereal. Well, the result of pouring milk into a bowl mixed with the grain will create my breakfast. Still, before this effect can take place, a few causes must happen first, such as a cow must become pregnant. Milk has to extracted and delivered to a grocery store. Then the milk has to be transported to my fridge; then, I can mix it with my cereal. The law is complete, and I can crunch on my favorite breakfast meal because the requirement has come to fruition.
This universal law applies to everyone; we can't escape it. It's naturally going to follow wherever we go. Without a cause, the effect cannot happen. Which brings us to our tough questions, "why do evil and suffering exist?" The result of evil and suffering plagues everything; it doesn't take long to see how dysfunctional the world is, indigenous people, bury their living children for many reasons - disabilities, fear of demonic spirit, or for pagan sacrifice. Families are torn apart by physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Schools and shopping centers are targets for mass shootings, and slowly more people are walking away from the church, and these effects upon God's creation was not a standard system but influenced by the first negative cause - The Fall.

The Cause of Suffering

And we read about The Fall from the first book of the bible. In Genesis, the third chapter, we read of the account of the first couple, Adam and Eve, and their participation in eating the forbidden fruit. Even God spoke to the man directly to not eat from this tree, for it will result in death spreading to all the ends of the earth. But humans are going to do humans do and do things they will regret, and the Genesis story goes like this.
Genesis 3:1–7 ESV
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
:1-8
Through disobedience came the powers of death, which became our first cause of suffering and pain. God would not tolerate their actions, so he expelled them from the garden and drove them away from what was perfect and beautiful.
Genesis 3:22–24 ESV
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis
Genesis 3:22–23 ESV
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.
22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Suffering to Sorrow

With both of them officially leaving Eden (God's garden) that carried the promise of experiencing blessed peace and goodness, now the couple is to journey to the unknown and experienced suffering that leads to sorrow. Before the Fall, everything was flawless. Now they are suffering by difficult farming, strife against the animal kingdom, pain in childbearing, and family disorder. Adam and Eve were not only leaving Eden but entering towards a road of long-suffering, and we too now get to walk hand-in-hand with them.
Since we endure suffering, we face all the same challenges and difficulties as they did. We mourn over the loss of family friends. We ask God to deliver us from evil because we know in our hearts that the things that happen are not just. We wish there were a way that suffering would be undone and destroyed once and for all. With takes us to the gospel of John, we will be reading a family is who is experiencing distress since they lost their brother. Now we turn to John chapter 11 and see how God will intervene in their story.
John 11:1–16 ESV
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. 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.” 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. 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.” 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.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
John 11:1-16
11 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. 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.”
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. 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.” 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.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

From Death to Life

The first thing to notice in the story is the friend of Jesus, Lazarus, whom he loved was ill, and the sisters Mary and Martha sent a word to Jesus asking for him to come and heal his infirmity. Since they were close to him, they knew his local hangout spots and addressed Jesus to come quickly. And Jesus waits for this illness to develop for the glory of God, so more people will believe in him, so instead of moving. Jesus remains near the Jordan river for another two days!
How do you think Mary and Martha felt about Jesus taking forever to see their brother? It would be like us calling a 911 operator about our emergency, and they respond, saying, "I would love to help you, but our first responders are on lunch right now. We'll send them out once they are available." That would only add another blow to our suffering if we didn't receive help during our time of crisis. I can only imagine how the sisters felt when they saw their brother slowly dying, and they knew that Jesus got the message.
After the two days go by, Jesus decided to head to Judea. The disciples warn him of the danger of the Jewish leaders that want to destroy him, but rather than worrying. He makes a statement about walking in the daylight. Anyone caught walking in the dark stumbles for the light is not in him. Here, Jesus is saying to us, don't fear physical death, but worry if there is no light in you. We learned earlier that Jesus is the light of the world; without him, we are spiritually dead. It's a more significant issue to walk in sin rather than face death and have the light within you. Then Christ speaks to them plainly and says that Lazarus has died, but let us go to him. He sounds as Lazarus is alive, and there going to visit him.
John 11:17–27 ESV
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.” 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?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
John 11:17
John 11:17–27 ESV
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.” 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?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for 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.” 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?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
It was the jewish custom (shiva) to come and stay with the mourning family for a week and help them during their time of greif. Once Jesus arrived near the city, Martha met Jesus and blames him for Lazarus death. Sounds similar to the story in Genesis when the Adam blames God for his wife led him into to eat of the forbitten fruit. We always try to blame God for things that he didn't do. However, Martha request Jesus to ask God for whatever he wants. But she is missing the point, Jesus is God. God is standing in front of her and instead of rebuking her. Jesus gives her assurance. "Your brother will rise." But still not understanding him, he claims. "I am the resurrection and the life." Then she pronounces him with all the titles fited for Jesus. But Jesus doesn't stop there, now he request for the other sister.
John 11:28–37 ESV
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?”
John 11:28-
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?”
Almost the same actions like Martha, Mary blames Jesus for their brother's death, but she comes to Jesus with a weeping heart. Everyone else is crying and followed her out to where Jesus is, outside the village. By this Jesus is deeply outraged and emotially upset. Maybe for thier lack of faith in him or he could be angry that we have to suffer and experience the effects of death. Then Jesus asked, "Where have you laid him." He showed his love by weeping too. How much more does God love us if he cries over a simple man like Lazarus. Jesus felt suffering too, but he has the power to reverse it's effect. Which we see in the rest of the story.
John 11:38–44 ESV
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.”
John 11:38
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.”

Change of Identity

There is no doubt that Lazarus was dead, he was in the tomb for already four days, and Martha told Jesus that he would really stink for his flesh was already rotting inside the tomb. It's possible that they didn't embalm Lazarus, so it sped up the decaying process. But regardless, Jesus instructed them to move the stone, for he is the resurrection and life. Christ has authority over death itself and then with a loud voice, he cries out to the dead man to walk out of the tomb. With that, Jesus relived the pain and suffering of Mary and Martha and more Jews came to believe in him, which was the purpose of glorifying the Father.
With this being all said, what does this mean for us today? It means knowing Jesus is the resurrection and life by faith will transform our perspective, identity and purpose. We have joy amid suffering because he has the power to raise us from the dead and give us real transformative life. By knowing these truths, what are the people of God suppose to do?
First, our purpose is to give God glory. Just as Son glorifies his Father by raising Lazarus from the dead, our lives are to worship Jesus by the way we live for him and his kingdom, particularly by giving thanks to him every day. Listen to the end of .
22  “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
Psalm 50:22–23 ESV
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23  The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
When you start complaining about your suffering and pain, remind yourself of his resurrection life, which will lift your sorrows away and will trade them for joy. Even Jesus suffered, but knew everything he did was to bring God glory, and we are strive to do that which bring honor to his name.
Secondly, our identity in Christ brings us from death to life. For he is the life and, if we are in him, then we are spiritually alive in the triune God. His death on the cross is our death and, his resurrection is our resurrection like Paul mentions in . So if Christ is our new identity, that means we die to ourselves and live for God, which makes us son and daughter of God where he will lead us into the new Eden, and we wait for that glorious day when we will be able to walk with God in the coolness of the day.
Thirdly, our perspective over suffering is changed. We know that death and pain don't get the last laugh. Instead, we do as children of God. Rather than letting pain inflict us and destroy our identity and purpose, we will look to those who are suffering and bring them to Jesus - the great physician. We look for opportunities to help those who are going through hard times by loving them just as Christ loved the world so much to die for it.
The great news of the gospel is that even though we don’t deserve to come out of the tomb. Jesus loves us enough to offer his free gift to those who receive him. What we gain is a life worth living and that last forever. I don’t know about you, but the world offers some great things, but compared to the resurrection and life, nothing compared. My hope is for your embrace who Jesus is and cling to his life and resurrection so you can cast off the shackles of suffering.
In mind of all that was said, we can be confident in this,

Through the resurrection, we fully live, and suffering truly dies.

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