Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life
October 22, 2023

Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life

Passage: John 11:1-44

Who Does Jesus Say He Is?

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been looking at statements Jesus makes about who he is, often called the “I AM Statements” of Jesus. In the gospel of John, we’ve seen that Jesus refers to himself as the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Door of the Sheep, the Good Shepherd, and today in John, Chapter 11, we’ll see the fifth statement Jesus makes when he says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” But before I read our text, please pray with me:

[Prayer and Reading Bible Passage]

Life sometimes feels hopeless. Some people feel hopeless because they’ve made a terrible mistake in the past that they think will permanently ruin their future. Others feel hopeless when there are overwhelming difficulties in the present with no end in sight. Other people feel hopeless about difficulties that they’ll have to face in the future – some sort of dark and ominous event looming on the horizon – whether that’s a surgery, a final exam, or whether that thing is even death itself.

But here in John 11, when Jesus declares himself to be the Resurrection and the Life, He assures his people that death and darkness won’t have the last word. I’ll explain five key ideas as we work through the text here. First, the pattern of resurrection. Second, the person of resurrection. Third, the Powerful Presentation of Resurrection. Fourth, the promise of resurrection, and fifth, the purpose of resurrection.

The Pattern of Resurrection

So first, the pattern of resurrection. I want start here by making sure we haven’t forgotten what resurrection really is. The idea of resurrection isn’t one of unbroken comfort and happiness. Resurrection doesn’t even mean that we’re moved from a level of general okayness to a higher level. It follows a different pattern. Before resurrection comes death.

Mary and Martha come face to face with death here when their brother Lazarus suddenly dies from illness. And for four days, they’re grieving, likely questioning the goodness of Jesus, fearing the emotional pain of going through life without their brother. Facing death is hard. We don’t enjoy thinking about death. We fear it. We hate it. We want to run from it. Death strips away everything – it brings us to nothing. The question isn’t really whether we’ll die someday, but rather what hope do we have after death comes?

Many people feel hopeless, because they don’t really know what’s coming after death. They don’t know if they’re ready. They don’t know if it’s safe for them. The only thing they know is that they can’t save themselves from it.

But when Jesus comes face to face with death, he doesn’t despair – why? Because Jesus has power over death. Death isn’t the end – but he has power to bring resurrection. The same voice that spoke into absolute nothingness and darkness and said, “let there be light” is the voice that can speak into death and say, “let there be life.” And if Christ is able to give us hope and new life in the midst of death, he is able to give us hope and life in every life situation.

The Person of Resurrection

In verse 25, Jesus specifically tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus identifies himself as the person of resurrection. And this is my second point – the person of resurrection.

In other parts John, Jesus says that he gives resurrection and life. John 5:21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” But here in John 11:25, Jesus says he is the resurrection and the life. Why does he speak this way?

Well, many of the Jews in those days believed that there would be a resurrection of the dead at the end of the age. They saw signs of this in Scripture. Psalm 49:15: “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol [that is, from the place of the dead], for he will receive me.” Psalm 73:24, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.” 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.” There are others like this.

But the question was how. How would this ultimate, end-of-the-age resurrection be warranted? How would the curse of death over humanity be broken? Who would this resurrection come through?

After all, through belonging to Adam, the first man, we inherited the curse of death. How can we inherit the blessing of life, then? Through belonging to someone else – by belonging to him who is the resurrection and the life.

Resurrection and life are special possessions of Jesus – they can’t be extracted from him – they depend on him. He makes a bold statement. Jesus is putting himself on the same level as God, the Creator and life-giver. Though Jesus is truly human, which enables him to represent us in his death and resurrection, he is also truly the divine fountain of life. To have life, we must have Jesus.

The Promise of Resurrection

This brings me to my third point, the promise of resurrection. Jesus promises here that those who believe in him – who entrust their lives to him – will gain indestructible life after death. In verse 25, He says, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” Physical death will come, Jesus says. But life will follow.

And notice what type of life will come afterward. Jesus tells us in verse 26, “And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” When it says that the believer shall never die, the never is doubly emphasized in the Greek – shall absolutely NEVER ever die. Jesus is promising that the resurrection life we receive is everlasting – continuous – forever.

Jesus’s promise here confirms that those who believe in Christ have been granted spiritual life that endures, even when our physical bodies start to fall apart – even when our world falls apart. Our souls will not perish, and our bodies will be resurrected by Christ to share in his unending life. Christ has himself promised this for everyone – anyone – who trusts in him.

The Powerful Presentation of Resurrection

Now Jesus didn’t need to give us anything in addition to his statement and promise. But in his kindness, Jesus further confirms his trustworthiness by demonstrating his power to resurrect the dead – and this is my fourth point – the powerful presentation of resurrection.

We’re invited here into the story, to be a bystander and eyewitness at the tomb that day. We are urged to reflect on our own hopelessness in the face of death, on our powerlessness to set wrong things right. But then Jesus appears on the scene. He calls out to the dead man. And when the ghastly tomb is opened, we’re not confronted with the stench of decay. Instead, Christ brings dead Lazarus to new life.

But is this the only place Jesus demonstrates his ability to raise the dead? Of course not. Jesus confirms his power by his own resurrection. Just as Jesus said in John 10:18 – no one takes Jesus’s life from him – but he has authority to lay it down and to take it up again. Jesus demonstrates his authority over death, and shows us that He is, indeed, the resurrection and the life. He not only tells us – but he confirms it visibly, in real human history. Jesus’s power of resurrection isn’t just an abstract spiritual experience – it is a concrete, relevant reality that gives us genuine hope after death.

The Purpose of Resurrection

So what is the takeaway? Why the focus on resurrection? This is my fifth and final point, the purpose of resurrection.

Jesus confronts death, because this is where we’re most powerless. Death is the enemy that none of us can overcome. Death is where we’re stripped of everything, where we’re reduced to nothing – and Jesus meets us there and says YES, you’re helpless, yes, if you were alone, you’d be hopeless. But you don’t have to be alone.

When Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life” we see his glory – verse 4 tells us this scenario is intended to showcase God’s glory – and we are encouraged to trust him in every situation, which is why he calls us to belief in verses 25 and 26.

This doesn’t mean that enjoying God’s glory and trusting Jesus are easy – especially when we’re going through a tragedy. Often we keep falling back into hopelessness – sometimes we’re even bitter because God doesn’t seem to have our back.

Look in verse 35. Jesus weeps for Lazarus. Some of the Jews appreciate Jesus’s tears. “See how he loved him!” some say. But others begin to murmur, “Wait a second. Jesus could have done something about this. He healed a blind man. If he’s so great, why didn’t he heal Lazarus, too?”

When we’re distressed, passing through circumstances that feel like death, this can be our attitude, too. Jesus, where are you? I thought you’re the Almighty guy who can Feed the 5,000, who can Calm the Storm, who can heal the sick – so why are you leaving me here in my misery?

But turn back to verse 5 and notice what it says: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (Verse 6), “SO – that is, THEREFORE – when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” In other words, the reason Jesus didn’t act right away to relieve Mary and Martha from their distress was because he loved them! Was the tragic death of their brother easy? Did it feel good? No way. But all the while, Jesus was setting up one of the most dramatic demonstrations of his glory. And ultimately, Mary and Martha came out of that situation more confident in God’s wisdom and power. Jesus used this trial to lovingly strengthen their faith.

We can have confidence, at the end of the day, that Jesus will do the same for all his people. He really is capable of stepping in after everything has been ruined and decimated, and he can make all things new. We really can trust him, even if people take away our jobs, our property, our freedoms, or our good reputations. We can trust him, even to the point of death – why? Because he is the resurrection and the life. And we will live again to behold his glory forever.

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