Friday, April 12, 2013

I Am the Resurrection and the Life - continued

I am the Resurrection and the Life

double tulips

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”
–– John11:25-27

We looked at John 11: 1-27 in the previous blog.  We looked at the circumstances in which Jesus made the announcement, I AM statement.  Lazarus had died and his sisters, Martha and Mary, are in morning. Jesus spoke to Martha and told her: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever.   Martha believes that Lazarus will be resurrected at the end times. She is looking toward some time in the distant future that she might be able to see and embrace her brother in the flesh again.  She professes her faith in Jesus and announces that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God. We will continue this story from there.

Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 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.   John 11:28-32  Again we see that the are a lot of people there in the house to console Mary.  Mary left them to meet Jesus. Mary was also very glad to see Jesus.  She too, was grieving over the loss of her brother, Lazarus.  She is convinced that Jesus could have healed her brother of his illness and prevented his death.  Both she and Martha were unaware that Jesus waited until Lazarus' death so that He could raise him from the dead.   

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. And he said, Where have you laid him? They said to him, Lord, come and see.  Jesus wept. So the Jews said, See how he loved him! But some of them said, Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying? John 11:33-37   Jesus was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. The Greek word used for deeply moved, is embrimaomai:  meaning to feel something deeply and strongly.  My concordance states this word is only used one other time in the  New Testament.  Also, His sorrow was intermixed with anger at the evil of death.  Jesus knew that Lazarus would die and His plan was to raise him from the dead. Jesus was to use this situation to Glorify God.  Jesus was not insensitive when He waited two more days before traveling to Bethany. He had determined that it was God's greater purpose that Lazarus would die, rather than be healed.  This did not diminish His emotions as a man who lost a friend to death. The fullness of the Lords humanity is especially evident in the fact that Jesus wept.  (This is also the shortest verse in the Bible.  John 11:35 )  His weeping does not indicate a lack of faith, but honest sorrow at suffering and death.   This should console us at the loss of a loved one.  It is not wrong to or out of character to cry over our loss. Some of the Jews who were among the mourners rebuked Jesus for allowing Lazarus to die.  They accusingly mocked Him by saying, "If He could heal I blind man, why didn't He heal his friend."

So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 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."  John 11:38-39  In first century Israel this type of stone sepulcher was common. A cave or rock area would be carved out, the floor leveled with a shallow descent.  Shelves were cut out or constructed inside the area to bury other family members. A rock was then rolled in front of the opening to prevent wild animals or grave robbers from entering. The Jews did not embalm the bodies, and the climate was hot.  Although the body was wrapped and covered in fragrant spices, the body would quickly decompose and the spices could not effectively mask the odor.  The body was not wrapped tightly like the Egyptians. The body was wrapped loosely and the head was wrapped separately. The spices were tucked between the layers and folds of the linen cloth.  Upon the opening of the grave the smell of the decomposition would reinforce to the onlookers that Lazarus had indeed been dead for some time.

Jesus answers Martha: Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 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."  John 11:40-42  The prayer of Jesus was not a petition, but a thanksgiving.  The reason for the miracle that was about to occur was to glorify God and to authenticate the claims of Jesus that He was indeed the Messiah.

Jesus said to her, "When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." 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."   John 11:43-44  Jesus cries out.  He shouted, "Lazarus come forth."  The voice of the one who created the universe by His Word shouts a command that is heard by the dead.  The dead, and rotting body of Lazarus obeys the Word, and comes out from the grave.  By His word, the tissues of the body of Lazarus repair.  By the word of Jesus the heart beats, the muscles strengthen, the brain waves restart, the blood flows, and the body of Lazarus is resurrected.

Job asks the question, "If a man dies, shall he live again?" Job 14:14   This question has been in the mind of every human being since death was first experienced on earth. This question has been asked by every culture, tribe and civilization. People have always speculated on the question of death and the afterlife. Is there something more after death?  In every human heart there lies the hope for victory over death. The greatest hope in the world is the historical resurrection of Christ. The New Testament states this fact not as an isolated incident, but an event for all who follow Jesus.  Jesus is the light and the life. Jesus, as the good shepherd, guides His people through the door to everlasting life, and He is the door.  Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.  The Life (zoe), eternal life, begins in the soul the moment faith is born in the heart.  That new life cannot be destroyed by physical death.  This is at the core of the hope in the Christian faith.

We were not created to die. But fallen man will die without the resurrection and the life. Death is a transition from life here on earth to a better environment and a better situation. Jesus tells us that He will bring about the resurrection.  He will be the cause of the resurrection.  He says, "I AM the resurrection and the life."  In the idiom of expression Jesus embodied resurrection and life. Resurrection from the dead and eternal life in fellowship with God are so closely tied to Jesus that they can only be found in Him.  It is not only a future reality, but something to be experienced in the present as well. The life that Jesus promises is both now and eternal.  R. C. Sproul says, "As long as there is life, as long as there is death, there is no one who is more relevant than Christ. He is the resurrection and the life."

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