The Resurrection & The Life
A few years ago I participated in a debate on the resurrection of Jesus with a professor at the University of California, Irvine.
He had written his doctoral dissertation on the resurrection, and he was thoroughly familiar with the evidence.
He could not deny the facts of Jesus' honourable burial, empty tomb, post-mortem appearances and the origin of the disciples' belief in the resurrection.
So his only recourse was to come up with some alternate explanation of those facts.
And so he argued that Jesus of Nazareth had an unknown, identical twin brother, who was separated from him as an infant and grew up independently, but who came back to Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion, stole Jesus' body out of the tomb and presented himself to the disciples, who mistakenly inferred that Jesus was risen from the dead.
This is illustrative of the desperate lengths to which skepticism must go in order to refute the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. ~ William Lane Craig
The death and resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in human history. Our faith hangs on the reality of this event: Did Jesus rise from the dead? The Apostle Paul in Scriptures says (1 Corinthians 15 paraphrased), “If Christ did not rise from the dead than our faith is in vein.” This is Paul who had made a career out of denying the resurrection and persecuting the church. But The Lord Himself convinced Paul other wise when He appeared to him as the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. He isn’t the only one who needed convincing. All 12 of the original Apostles did as well. When Jesus died upon the cross they become defeated doubters.
Peter, the head apostle, was more than a doubter he was an outright denier. What convinced them otherwise? The Resurrection itself. They saw the risen Lord. He has risen indeed!
Thomas as we know had to put his hand in his side and in his hands where the wounds were. Which eliminates the man in the iron mask theory!
But friends I am here today to tell you that it is not enough for us to know that He did rise (that is essential), but we must also know why! Why did Jesus have to rise from the dead? That is the very question we will be answering today, and we will be doing so from John 11. Please turn in your Bibles at home to John 11 and read with me.
Point 1: The Wages of Sin is death | “Lazarus is dead”
Point 1: The Wages of Sin is death | “Lazarus is dead”
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 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. “But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”
Jesus is up to something. Look at what he does:
He says in verse 4 “the sickness is not unto death” but “for the glory of God”. Jesus already knows what it about to go down. This horrible situation, his friend dying, was for the glory of God.
After hearing his friend is sick he intentionally stays two extra days so Lazarus dies in verse 6. From where Jesus was it was about 20 miles away, a full days journey on foot. But only a days journey. Can you imagine someone near and dear to you being only a days journey away and you having the means to help them?
In verse 11, no one tells him Lazarus is dead, but He tells the disciples Lazarus is dead and now it is time to go and “awaken Him”. Now that Lazarus is dead it is time for me to go.
Then in verses 15 after having to bluntly tell the disciples, “Lazarus is dead” he says these amazing words, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe.”
So we have to hints already as to what Jesus is up to:
The glory of God (v4)
and that the disciples may believe (v15)
Now I want us take a step back before we take the 1 day Journey to Bethany and let the words “Lazarus is dead” ring in your ears. The Bible is very clear that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Death entered the world through one man’s sin (Adam) and mankind has been born in sin, apart from God, ever since. Death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12). Why is their pain, sickness, and death in this world? Because of spiritual state of mankind. Not just that sinners continue to sin but that mankind’s spiritual state before a holy God is defined in one word: dead. As Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” We live in a fallen, sinful world under God’s wrath. And our culpability in that is our own sin.
If I choose to rob a bank and get shot by the security guard on duty you might go that was the logical consequences of sin. That is true, but there is more to it. All sin has spiritual, relational consequences before a holy and just God. It took one sin to get Adam kicked out the garden, and separate the human race from the tree of life.
If you cannot see that you are a sinner you are going to have a tough time seeing the glory of God in this passage. If you cannot see that you apart from Jesus are spiritually dead, separated from God, then you will not understand the resurrection power in this passage. Unless you can say “I am dead spiritually” you will not be able to be awakened!
If I go to the doctor and am sick and he or she prescribes me medicine that can heal me… unless I believe the doctors report that I am sick I will not take the medicine.
“Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe.”
Point 2: Jesus is The Resurrection & The Life
Point 2: Jesus is The Resurrection & The Life
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now 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 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 “Even now I know that whatever You ask of 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; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” 28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” 38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.
I want you to notice that Martha and Mary say the exact same thing to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Except Martha also had a hint of faith that lead to one of the most powerful confessions in the entire Bible. Something we could learn from.
What did Martha have that Mary did not? Martha had a mustard-seed of faith. Now Jesus helped that faith along, and in the most important aspect. The object of her faith.
OBJECT OF HER FAITH
OBJECT OF HER FAITH
Notice when Jesus says to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha, being a good Jew, acknowledged her belief in the resurrection! But that wasn’t enough for Jesus. There are many world religions who believe in an afterlife. There are many people even if they are unreligious have this hope for life beyond the grave. None of that is good enough to lay hold of eternal life. Wishful thinking about heaven, wishful thinking about the great beyond will not save you. It is a person who will save you:
Jesus says, “I AM The Resurrection & The Life.” Martha is going, “I know… I know… I know he will rise again....” and Jesus goes, “NO Martha you don’t understand, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE”? There are three important facts here:
Jesus says, “I AM”. He does this on many occasions in the Gospel of John and it is abundantly clear what He is doing. He is taking on the divine name, YHWH, I AM that I AM. This is a divine statement. The messiah was no mere man. He was the eternal Son, the eternal God who stepped down in human flesh (John 1:14). To recognize Him as anything less is to miss Him entirely!
He personally is the person in whom we must trust to obtain this life. He doesn’t just give the bread out of heaven, He is the bread out of heaven. He doesn’t just give Light to the world, He IS the light of the World. We must go to Him and drink. There is no other source, there is no other hope, there is no other life. He, Himself, is the be all end all. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. It wasn’t enough for Martha to believe in a resurrection in the end. She needed to believe in THE RESURRECTION and THE LIFE, JESUS Himself!
There is a door to heaven by which all must enter. No one gets in by any other way. There is no backdoor, no secret entry, no open window… one, single, door by which every last individual must enter. Jesus is that door. Apart from him there is NO RESURRECTION and NO LIFE.
BUT HE IS NOT JUST THE DOOR! He is the man behind the door. He is the destination. He is the life. The goal being as Paul says in 1 Thes 4:17 that we may “always be with the Lord.”
LACK OF FAITH
LACK OF FAITH
So both sisters had faith to say “if you had been here...”, but Martha had faith to also say “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Mary did not and I want us to focus in on Jesus’ response to this.
verse 33: When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled
D. A. Carson translates this passage, “he was outraged in spirit, and troubled”. He goes on to say this word means “his inward reaction was anger or outrage or indignation.” He wasn’t just moved or emotional, he was angry. This same word is used in vs 38 again after the commentary by the people are with Mary.
Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 415). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.
Mary just lost her brother and is weeping and this makes Jesus angry? What is going on?
Well we have one other clue to what is going on, a theme in the Gospel of John, that the Jewish people as a whole rejected Jesus. John 1:11 says, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” Now remember one day “All Israel will be saved.” To quote Jesus in John 4, “Salvation is from the Jews”. Every last apostle was Jewish. Nevertheless the fact that Mary is grieving with the unbelieving Jewish people like as Paul says in Thessalonians as one who has no hope when THE ONLY HOPE is standing right before her greatly bothered Jesus.
In this story we have Jesus glad, angry and weeping.
What is going on?
What is the one thing that it is impossible to please God with out! FAITH! Mary did not believe and she was grieving and acting like those who have NO HOPE at all.
When you see Jesus getting moved it is often because of faith or lack of faith in passages. He Marveled at the centurions faith!
Remember he told the disciples he was glad for a particular reason… so that they would “BELIEVE”.
What was the question he challenged Martha with when she expressed some level of faith? “DO YOU BELIEVE” That He is the resurrection and the Life.
And what is it that angers and sorrows him here.... they don’t believe.
What I want you all to see is not the just faith is important and essential but that it is personal! He loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He knew them. They knew Him, and Mary’s lack of faith upset Jesus. Faith in God is personal to God. He cares that you believe or don’t believe. You were made for Him! God teaches us how important relationship’s are through natural family. We all understand on some level how important moms, dads, children, husbands and wives are. These are the most important relationships we ahve. and if you have been hurt by one of those relationships the pain you’ve experienced demonstrates my point, they are important. Impactful. Yet they are but a glimpse of how important each one of us our to God. So friends Do YOU believe? God is calling you by name… and He cares whether you have faith! Do you believe He is the Resurrection and the Life.
And so it is about to get fun! If you invite Jesus to a funeral He is going to ruin it! Now listen for our key word.
John 11:39–45 NASB9539 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 “I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him
Jesus is exactly who He says that He is. He is the resurrection and the LIFE. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? DO YOU?
We can learn something from Martha. First you believe then you confess. Pauls if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord you will be saved! Friends if you believe Jesus is the Resurrection and The Life and Lord of all put amen in the chat. Give an amen so someone your sitting with can hear you.
But the story isn’t over. the Question is not why did Lazarus have to die and rise but why did Jesus?
47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48 “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
Remember I said today we were going to answer the question why did Jesus have to rise from the dead?
This was the defining event that scared the power hungry religious leaders into seizing and crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ. But you see the divine hand of God in all of it. From the prophecy I just read to Jesus’ orchestration of events. In orchestrating Lazarus’ resurrection He was orchestrating his death! Why is that?
In order for Jesus to be the Resurrection and The Life for you and me He was going to have kill death. He did so by dying for our sins.
...there was no other way in which He could draw upon Himself the hopeless weight of our sins, and expose and absorb the evil that blocks us from the holiness of God, ‘The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ The only way a God of perfect peace and joy can reach His suffering family is in this amazing way to share that suffering. The only way a God of perfect purity and goodness can reach His disobedient people is to offer Himself (as) the sacrifice for sin.”
WILLIAM CHILDS ROBINSON
He who knew no sin became sin so that we could become the righteouness of God.
14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
The wages of sin is death
We are all sinners who deserve to die
Jesus died the death we deserved. He satisfied the wrath of God against sin.
The resurrection is proof and vindication of His divine claims as the resurrection and the life. That he accomplished through the blood of His cross this reconciliation. Death could not hold him down.
So we upon faith in Him can be spiritualy awakened from the dead now and one day physically transformed made ready for eternal life at resurrection of the dead.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
Just as Jesus said “Lazarus come forth” one day He will say,
“Steve, come forth”
“Musa, come forth”
“Ethel, come forth”
“Jared, come forth”
“Felicity, Leksi, Isaiah come forth”
If you have not responded to the voice of the Son of God now, If you have not been awakened now, then you will only rise to a resurrection of judgement. Have you trusted in Jesus now as the resurrection and the life for your soul? If so you will physically rise again to a resurrection of eternal life where there is no more sorrow and no more pain and no more death. The situation our world faces today is by no means a worst case scenario but even if it was it could not separate us from the Love and power of God in Christ Jesus. At the end of the day we are not living for anything in this perishing world. We are not living for anything of temporary significance. We are living for the Lord of Eternity. The one who has conquered the grave. Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life.