[SW124] 1/18/14 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“The Resurrection and the Life”
When we turn from our sin and believe into Him, Jesus Christ makes us stand up from our mere existence and enter into His life!
Elijah raised the dead, Elisha raised the dead, Jesus raised the widow’s son at Nain as he was being carried to his grave, and Jesus gave the disciples the authority to raise the dead (see Matthew 10:8). So what is different about the story of Lazarus’ resurrection in John 11? All these were raised the same day they died.
We will see that Lazarus was dead in the tomb for four days. The Jews always buried their dead the same day they died. And Jews believed that after three days, the spirit left the body of the dead one and there was no hope of resurrection. We will see that Jesus waited until there was no hope, and then resurrected Lazarus!
I will speak of Lazarus’ resurrection, of the resurrection now available to all who believe into Jesus Christ, who enter through Him into life as God has it, eternal life, here and now. And I will talk about the final resurrection, at the end of things.
Lazarus was sick, even to the point of death. Martha and Mary sent a messenger to ask Jesus to come to Bethany to heal him. How did Jesus reply?
John 11:4 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.”
And so He stayed two more days before coming to them. Then He told His disciples it was time to go to Bethany, where the Jews had threatened to kill Jesus.
He said to them,
John 11:11 . . .“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”
The disciples didn’t understand that Jesus meant Lazarus was dead, so He had to speak it plainly to them in Verse 14. In the next verse, He told them that they would believe because of what was about to happen.
When He arrived, Martha met Him:
John 11:21 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.”
She would never have said Verse 21 if she had believed Verse 4. She could not imagine how Jesus could possibly raise Lazarus, dead four days in a tomb.
Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha replied that knew that he would, on the last day, a reference to the end times when God will bring this current world to an end and establish a new heavens and a new earth.
John 11:25 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?”
What did Jesus mean when He said I AM the Resurrection and the Life?
Resurrection (386) means to stand up again. It is resurrection from death. When He says I AM, He is saying He is God in the flesh, the One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3.
I AM the Resurrection and the Life! He is the author of life (New Living Bible), the prince of life (Acts 3:15)!
Until Jesus Christ, there was no possibility of having resurrection and life. It was He who made it possible. God was doing the new thing that He described so many times through Isaiah!
He sent the perfect sacrifice, part of Himself, His very Son, to this earth so we may be resurrected here and now, and also in the last day. No one else could do it but His sinless Son.
Jesus Christ is the Prince of life as God has it, the Ruler of it, and the Author of it! It can come from no other source, no other god.
So when, in Verse 25, Jesus asked Martha if she believed that He was the I AM, that He was the Author of both Resurrection and Life, she did not answer His question:
John 11:27 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.”
She answered that she believed He was the Christ and that He had come from God. But she did not believe that He was the Author of Resurrection and of Life, that nothing was impossible for God, and that those who live and believe into Him — who enter in, who turn from their sin and enter Jesus Christ, the Door — will never die but have eternal life. She believed God would do what Jesus asked Him to do, but she did not believe for the resurrection of Lazarus.
I tell you that the church is in the same state. We believe Jesus is the Christ, we believe that He was sent from God. But we do not believe He can resurrect us here and now into new life, life in Him, born from above.
We do not believe that we can have eternal life here and now, but that all these promises are for “after we die.” And we miss His great plan! His great plan is to give us a resurrection here and now, for us to be born again not only so we can enter the Kingdom of God, but so that we can have His kingdom set up in us, here and now, His life in us here and now, so we become witnesses of His greatness and mercy and power and life that has filled us to the full!
I return to John 11. Martha calls Mary to come to Jesus, and she says the same thing Martha did — if You’d been here, Lazarus would not have died. It was again a statement that she did not believe Verse 4. She did not see that He is the I AM, the Author of Resurrection and Life, and that when we enter into life in Him, we have been resurrected here and now, from mere existence to life as God has it, even eternal life.
In Verse 33, Jesus sees Mary weeping, and the Jews that followed her from her home. He was deeply moved, beloved. You must understand what this word means, beloved!
Deeply moved (1690) means to snort with anger, to be moved by anger. It was a righteous anger, a holy anger against the unbelief that was all around Him. He was troubled (5015), He was disturbed. But all of their unbelief, and all of the unbelief in today’s church, will not keep God from accomplishing His plan. It goes forth, regardless of the weakness of our faith.
Beloved, we must be like the man whose son had fits, who said to Jesus, “I believe! Help my unbelief,” in Mark 9:24. He asks us to do that today!
He asks where Lazarus has been laid, and then, in Verse 35, He weeps. He was not sad over the death of Lazarus, because He was doing just what the Father told Him to do — wait four days, until Lazarus’ situation is hopeless, and then go and reveal the Father’s glory and be glorified by it, Son! He had no reason to weep out of sadness that Lazarus died. He knew what He was about to do. He is the I AM, the Author of Resurrection, and the Author of Life!
He wept because of their unbelief. It is the same today, in the church. He weeps when you say He cannot do what seems impossible to you.
The Jews (and the church) misinterpret Jesus — we say He wept because He was sad. Some ask, “Why didn’t He come sooner? He healed the man born blind. Couldn’t He come and heal Lazarus?”
But they do not realize, though He has told them, that Jesus Christ does not initiate anything on His own. He has no plans of His own. He only does what He sees the Father doing, says what the Father is saying, and obeys Him. God the Father and Jesus Christ who is God the Son are glorified, beloved, when we only do what the Father is doing, say what the Father is saying, and obey Him.
Jesus ordered the stone to be removed. And again, Martha answered in unbelief, saying Lazarus rotting body would stink.
And so Jesus was deeply moved again, in Verse 38. He snorted with righteous anger, was moved with anger.
I tell you, beloved, it does not make any difference how long you have been in your “mere existence,” how rotten you have become, how much you have decayed, Jesus is able to raise you up, to make you stand up, to resurrect you and give you eternal life, here and now! Hallelujah!
The stone was removed, and Jesus called for Lazarus to come out. And he did! He could not help but do it, because the I AM, the Author of Resurrection and Life, commanded Him to come out!
We must see that this is for us, for today. He is still the I AM, the Author of Resurrection and Life.
In Ephesians 1:18-23, Paul prays for the Ephesian church to realize this. All of the blessings of God had been made theirs when they believed into Jesus Christ, turning from their sin and entering through the Door which is Christ. But they had no power. They were not full. If they were, Paul would not have prayed:
Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
What do these words mean? Paul is praying for them to grab onto resurrection power, the power God used to raise Christ from the dead (Verse 20)! They have not yet done it.
Paul prays for them to be filled full, full of the Holy Spirit (Verse 23)! They are not yet filled, as evidenced by Paul’s exhortations — you were this, but now you are to be that. You were sinners, but now you are to turn from it. They had not come into life.
They had been awakened, they were converted, but they had not come into the fullness, the full meaning, of this resurrection and life, and that is to have the Author of these things in them, ruling and reigning, when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, when they have surrendered their rights and entire selves to God (Romans 12:1-2), a whole burnt offering, the old burned up by the baptism of fire Christ gives!
As Paul exhorts in Ephesians 5:14, and this is the literal translation,
“Arise, sleeping one, an stand up form the dead ones, and Christ will shine on you.”
Some of those in the church at Ephesus were still sleeping! They had not experienced nor do they ask for the resurrection power and life that the Author died to give them.
It is the same in the church today. Many have not come into the fullness of God, many have the head knowledge Martha and Mary and the Jews had, many have missed the truth that there is a here-and-now resurrection, and here-and-now eternal life, as well as when our bodies fall away and we are free to soar up to be with the Lord, as Paul implies in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. While we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (from being literally with Him in heaven), and that when our bodies fall away, we are at home with the Lord, literally with Him in heaven.
But there is a final resurrection, even of our bodies, from the I AM, the Author of Resurrection and Life!
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Comfort means “encourage!” Encourage each other! Look! Those who have entered into life in Christ, who die before He returns, will rise again. Their resurrection bodies will be as different from the original as a seed is from what it produces (see 1 Corinthians 15:37 and 44). But there will be a resurrection from the seed of our dead bodies that are in the ground!
And for those of us who are still alive when Christ returns, we will be snatched up in the air, and will rise to meet Him, and shall always be with Him! This is the final resurrection!
If you are looking at this video and you see Christ and come to Him, come all the way in. Do not stop at mental assent, at head knowledge, at agreeing that the Bible is true. Ask Him to work His resurrection power and eternal life here and now, in you!
His grace is here for you today, you who are like Martha and the rest. God’s plan will go forth, regardless of the unbelief of the church.
But hear His voice today! Enter into life in Christ, and be resurrected so you can give glory to God and to Christ, just as Lazarus’ resurrection did, back when Jesus walked the earth.Then you will be His witnesses. That is your purpose here!