- Introduction: We return to our series, “Who is Jesus?” (John 11:1-10; C/R:
1 Corinthians 15)
- We answer this question by reviewing the images Jesus used to describe Himself.
- 1. Theme verse: John 11:25 (NLT)—Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. …”
- The title of today’s message is Peace, because many of us fear death.
- Why do we feel this way? Is it from anxiety about suffering, apprehension over the unknown after-life, or reluctance to leave those we love?
- We can live and die in peace if we become convinced that our resurrections will follow our deaths, that we will see our Savior and live eternally with Him.
- A story found in John 11 offers reassurance of how we can confidently, faithfully, approach the end of our lives.
- John 11:1,3 (NLT)—A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. [Visited in their home at Luke 10:38-42.]… 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling Him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
- These sisters, knowing Jesus affection for their brother and his ability to heal, were confident that He would quickly come to help... but He didn’t.
- John 11:4–10 (NLT)—4 But when Jesus heard about it He said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. [Notice!] No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 He stayed where He was for the next two days. [Not indifferent.] 7 Finally, He said to His disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
- Lazarus’ illness must have been very serious because his sisters asked Jesus to return to a place where he faced great opposition by Jewish religious leaders.
- It is surprising that Jesus’ friend was suffering, but He delayed for two days.
- Sometimes God’s plan, and certainly His timetable, often differs from ours.
- Resurrection... (John 11:11-44)
- #1 - Restores life to body. (John 11:11-15; C/R: Ecclesiastes 12:7; Luke 23:43;
2 Corinthians 5:1,8; Philippians 1:21-24)
- John 11:11–15 (NLT)—11 Then He said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So He told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
- This must have confused His disciples, but Jesus’ reference to death as sleeping points out its temporary, transitory, impermanent, nature.
- Jesus did not view death as a permanent end of life, so neither should we.
- The Bible says, when we die, our spirit, our life-force from God, returns to Him.
- [Screen] Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NLT)—For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. [Jesus gave up His spirit at John 19:30; Stephen asked Jesus to receive his spirit as he was stoned; Acts 7:59.]
- Our souls—our mind, will, personality—our identity as a person, is immortal; it lives forever, but it leaves our bodies when we die. (Gen.35:16 says Rachel’s soul was departing as she died.)
- We don’t lose consciousness (referred to as soul-sleep); rather, the instant we leave our physical bodies, we pass into even greater awareness of the presence of Jesus.
- [Screen] Luke 23:43 (NLT)—43 And Jesus replied [to the criminal on the cross hanging beside Him], “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
- Some debate whether paradise is heaven or an intermediate step along the way.
- My response: It doesn’t matter. If it’s where Jesus is, that’s good enough for me.
- Also, Paul said at 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NLT), said he would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. [Phil.1:21]
- APP.: Do you believe you will not leave the presence of Jesus even at death?
Resurrection (to eternal life)...
- #2 - Requires belief in Jesus. (John 11:17-27; C/R: John 3:36; 5:24; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Colossians 3:3)
- John 11:17 (NLT)—17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany [20 miles away, full days walk], He was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.
- Jew’s believed that, after death, a person’s soul lingered near the body for three days, but by the fourth day, the soul had departed, so there was no possibility of being revived.
- Jesus didn’t arrive until the situation appeared totally hopeless.
- It seems that God often avoids intervening in our problems until they are completely beyond our control and appear irreparable.
- When our abilities and resources are exhausted, God receives all of the credit, all of the glory, and we learn that He can be trusted.
- John 11:18–22 (NLT)—18 Bethany was only a few miles  down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary stayed in the house. [Why? She seemed most devoted to Him.] 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask.”
- What tone do you think Martha used speaking to Jesus? How was she feeling?
- I think she was frustrated, possibly angry, at least heartbroken with disappointment because she knew that Jesus could have healed her brother.
- John 11:22–24 (NLT)—23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
- Martha misunderstood Jesus’ comment, thinking He was referring to the final resurrection, and this was not comforting to her.
- John 11:25–27 (NLT)—25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who has come into the world from God.”
- Martha embraced the truth that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah from God, so she believed in resurrection following death. (Was she frustrated?)
- Jesus moved resurrection out of a statement of faith and into a relationship with a person who imparts eternal life—which begins in the present, not the future.
- We are not raised from the dead, or even saved by merely affirming what we accept as true; Bible doctrine is incarnated in the Son of God and it becomes real and active in our lives when we live in relationship with Him through new birth!
- [Screen] Colossians 3:3 (NLT)—For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
- Resurrection leads to life; becoming one with Jesus so that He is permanently part of our lives, which raises us from spiritual death to spiritual life NOW!
- [Screen] John 5:24 (NLT)—24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
- APP.: Is Jesus my life? Have I already been resurrected from spiritual death?
- #3 - Relieves, doesn’t remove, sorrow. (John 11:28-37; C/R: Psalm 30:11; 116:15; Matthew 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
- John 11:28–32 (NLT)—28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to Him. …
32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
- Jesus allowed Mary to express her disappointment in Him, as He did her sister.
- He understood and empathized with their grief, their pain, their distress.
- John 11:33-34a (NLT)— 33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled. 34a “Where have you put him?” He asked them.
- Jesus was angry, not at Mary or these heartbroken people, but at the cruel way that sin, and resulting death, crushes hope, devastates joy, destroys life.
- John 11:34b-38 (NLT)— 34b They told Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much He loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t He have kept Lazarus from dying?”
- Jesus wasn’t crying over the death of Lazarus, which He was about to remedy.
- Jesus felt the pain, sorrow, grief, despair, of these people; it moved Him emotionally because His compassion for their feelings was real!
- Jesus didn’t rebuke these people—or us—because feeling sadness over the death of a loved one does not reveal a lack of faith; it expresses the loss of that person’s presence, companionship, relationship.
- God feels sorrow when our hearts are broken, our dreams shattered … even though He knows how things will turn out, because cares for us so deeply.
- [Screen] 1 Thessalonians 4:13–14 (NLT)—13 …we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. [Not “don’t grieve,” just grieve with hope, by faith.] 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.
- APP.: Do I try to explain away people’s grief by defending how God could let something tragic happen, or do I enter their pain and just sitting with them?
- #4 - Relies on assistance. (John 11:38-44; C/R: John 5:25-26; Romans 10:13-15; Galatians 6:2-3, 10; James 5:19-20)
- John 11:38–39 (NLT)—38 Jesus was still angry as He arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
- When Jesus asked bystanders to roll the stone aside, Martha objected, because she didn’t expect a miracle.
- John 11:40–41,43-44 (NLT)—40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. … 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” [John 5:25-26]
- This man, who had been dead for four days, shuffled out of the tomb, bound by tightly wrapped strips of cloth and with a cloth covering his face and head.
- Jesus instructed the bystanders to “Unwrap him and let him go!”
- Notice that Jesus involved people in the performance of this miracle: they removed the stone, they unwrapped the graveclothes from Lazarus.
- Jesus involves people in His work; He wants us to assist each other.
- We are called to communicate the Good News to people who don’t know Jesus (Rom.10:13-15).
- We are assigned the task of assisting people in need (Gal.6:2-3,10; Jas.5:19-20).
- APP.: How am I helping someone in need?
- Am I rolling stones aside for people to experience eternal life? Am I unwrapping grave clothes from people whose lives have been marred by sin and death?
- CLOSING: 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 (NLT)—56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. [So we can live in peace!]