Jesus the Life Giver (John 11 v 17-44

Introduction

  • I think it is surely true that we find it quite easy to become part and parcel of the events of this poignant 11 th chapter of John.  Many of God’s people have found comfort in it.
  • We have all been to the house of mourning, perhaps it has been our own home.
  • A loved one has died in Bethany, the funeral has already taken place – it would have been the day that Lazarus died, some four days before Jesus arrives.
  • There had been as part of the custom a gathering at the home and a procession to the cemetery.  On returning to the home they ate together a meal of boiled eggs and round shaped rolls.
  • The visitors have been coming and going for days – but there is one visitor that Martha and Mary long to see – and now according to v17 He has arrived.
  • It is a good thing to go to the house of mourning – that is what the Lord did.
  • Amidst this family and in the face of death Jesus is about to state what are surely the most wonderful words ever heard by human beings, I am the Resurrection and the life .
  • Edward Griffin a famous reformed preacher in N. America in the 18 th century said of the words of Jesus in v25 and they are text that unlock the whole incident, one could dwell on them for ever…heaven will ring with these words forever .
  • Well we will dwell on them for 30 minutes or so but by God’s grace may they ring much longer in our hearts and lives.
  • And what we need to realise is that this wonderful I am statement of Jesus and the wonderful miracle of the raising of Lazarus is the sum and substance of why He had come to earth.
  • He came amongst the dead to bring the dead of life and to give eternal life and He is going to do that by giving His own life.
  • And so we must realise that the raising of Lazarus is not some unconnected event but a graphic illustration of His great self disclosure, I am the resurrection and the life .
  • So in both the statement of Jesus and in the last and greatest of His miraculous signs we find Jesus the life giver.
  • And as we cover over this section we note two things about the Lord Jesus and then finish with a question.

1. Jesus Brings Sinners to Life

  • Now I want you to picture Lazarus – I am afraid it is not very pleasant – his body is cold and ashen in colour, it is lifeless, it is without expression, it no longer moves or responds to any stimulus – he is dead.
  • The situation is beyond all human hope.
  • No matter how much you talk to him he will not respond; if you were to hold some smelling salts beneath his nose – he wouldn’t flinch or blink and eye.
  • And Lazarus is a picture of all humanity in a spiritual sense.
  • The Bible makes it very clear that because of sin men and women and boys and girls who are unconverted are dead spiritually.
  • We read in Ephesians 2 – Paul is writing to some people and reminding them what they were like before they became Christians v1 As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins .
  • The day Adam and Eve ate of the fruit which they were commanded not to – they died inside to the things of God – that is why we find them hiding from God.
  • And we must realise that about mankind by nature – not that they are a little sick spiritually  – they are dead.  Not that they don’t have a conscience – do have but they suppress that.
  • Have no natural desires or ability to respond to the gospel – they need resurrected, they need a power from outside of them to bring them to life.
  • Now come again with me – we are back in the cemetery – there is someone special there now – the life giver and He is coming towards the tomb – simple instruction – take away the stone .
  • A few moments later – he raises his voice and says Lazarus come out – and out he comes.
  • Jesus is the life giver – His word comes breaking into the deadness and life comes.
  • He is the resurrection and the life .
  • And I want to tell you that Jesus is still doing that – sending out the Spirit into the hearts of men and women and children and raising them from the spiritual dead.
  • You remember the story of Hudson Taylor that great missionary to China – he had grown up in a Christian home but he turned away from the faith of his parents holding all sorts of sceptical views.
  • At the age of 15 he was rather bored one day and lifted a little tract and began just to read to relieve boredom.  His mother was 80 miles and had been overcome with a sense of need to pray for her son’s conversion.  And as she prayed hour after hour the light of the gospel shone into his heart as he reflected on the words It is finished.
  • A fortnight later when his mother returned home Hudson told her what had happened and discovered she had been praying at the very time he was brought to life.
  • Jesus brings sinners to life by the power of His Word.  What a strange thing to speak to a corpse – come out – what a strange thing to bring the gospel to sinners – dead in trespasses and sins – but it is this word that brings life.
  • Let me ask you today – do you have a Lazarus – seems that the cause is lost, no interest, spiritual zombies, in a sepulchre of sin, bound – take heart.  The Savour’s word is all-powerful – He is the resurrection and the life.
  • Maybe someone here today and you are like Mary v33 weeping – weeping that someone with your blood ad genes is dead spiritually –  I tell you just like in v28 the master is here and is asking for you – He has words of comfort and hope – I am the resurrection and the life .
  • Maybe you feel so like Martha – mixed in your faith – v39 by this time there is a bad odour – Lord things are bad – they are so far gone – take heart – all He has to do is speak the Word.
  • Look at the strength of her faith back in 22 even now God will give you whatever you ask .
  • Here is Martha so bitterly disappointed – but little chinks of light of faith come in – even now – when all hope seems gone.
  • Maybe some feel that way today – all hope seems gone for some family member – no interest, never come with you, years have passed, far from home, life a bit messy – even now the Holy Spirit can come breaking in.
  • So often we are down cast about the church visible – she seems to be in the grave in places in the sepulchre of liberalism and humanism – but even now He can raise her to life, send out His Spirit.
  • We look at our town – what deadness – one gigantic sepulchre – we have worked and witnessed, preached and proclaimed – but praise God that even now He can bring to life spiritually.
  • Maybe someone listens and your concerns about spiritual life are not for others – but yourself – heard it so long, never changed, never believed – I tell you even now – His life giving power can break in – there is a gospel today to be believed, blood to wash you, open door to enter in.

2. Jesus Gives Sinners Eternal Life

  • In our society death is the final taboo – you can talk about anything in our world today so long as you don’t mention the D word.
  • We have got all sorts of euphemisms for it so we don’t have to say it – passed on, no longer with us.
  • Undertakers are now called funeral directors.
  • The morge at the hospital always tucked away secluded at the rear of the hospital.
  • And all that avoiding ties in with what the Bible says in Heb 2:15 slavery in the fear of death . Job – king of terrors
  • Death is of course the great leveller, the ultimate statistic.
  • But the Christian has nothing to fear – it is a defeated enemy, Christ has taken the sting away.
  • Now come with me again – we are off to Bethany – out to the family grave – Jesus is there now.
  • As you look into his face you will see that His eyes are reddened, cheeks are dampened by his tears – you will see in v35 he wept – quiet silent tears flowing down face.  We can weep – weep not as world
  • You will see in 38 that he is deeply moved – very graphic word – later used of the snorting of an animal  – it is the moan of righteous anger against the effects of sin.
  • Death has burst in Calvin right when he called it a violent tyranny.  He is gripped by the sorrow.  Death is the most unnatural thing.  It is right that it outrages us.
  • He knows the sorrow that many you have felt at the grave of a loved one – He understands.
  • And at his Word Lazarus comes forth – Jesus has the power over death.
  • You will remember death was the punishment that God had pronounced on sin – and Jesus Christ has taken that punishment when He died on the cross.
  • Lazarus’s resurrection a faint signpost to the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.
  • And His resurrection the guarantee that the work of the cross has been accepted.
  • He has been to the grave – so death is no longer punishment for the Christian – it is simply the last stage in our sanctification and the connection to heaven.
  • Now look back at the key statement
  • I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live even though He dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die .
  • Jesus is saying here that for the Christian, Him being the resurrection and the life has two wonderful blessings or outcomes:
  • He who believes in Me will live even though He dies. This statement ties in with Jesus being the resurrection. And He is simply here reminding us of that great truth – that although the earthly remains of believers who die are laid in the grave – that a day is coming – when a new and glorious resurrection body will rise up from the grave.
  • We will live again even though we die.
  • You see just as the Lord called out Lazarus come forth – so when He returns all those who have died in the Lord will be raised up again – not with bodies like Lazarus’ but with a new and glorious resurrected body, a body completely under the Spirit’s control.
  • What a marvellous comfort for the Christian.  That all those who have died in the Lord – we will see again, we will recognise them again, spend all eternity with them.  Those loved one we have long since laid in the grave – from their very dust He will bring forth life.
  • What a marvellous promise because Jesus is the resurrection – a new and resurrected body at the last day and the soul already made perfect united to that new body – to live with God forever.
  • Let me take you in your mind’s eye to resurrection morning – the trumpet will sound, the heavens part and Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels, He will be marvelled at – and the dead are rising:
  • Magnificent mausoleums bursting open; moss covered sepulchres cleaving, grass covered mounds erupting, lonely forest graves opening, the sea giving up its dead, that grave where we laid to rest the earthly remains our dearest loved ones – the brightness is dazzling.
  • And not only is he raising from a grave a great number unto everlasting life – but behold out of the ashes of a world destroyed by fire He raises up a new heavens and a new earth.
  • The graveyard at Bethany – faint picture of what is going to happen one day.
  • But that is not the end of what Jesus is saying – there is more:
  • The second promise ties in with Him being the life v26 whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.
  • And the emphasis here is that every Christian is now the possessor of eternal life now and that in one sense we will never die – the Greek is really strong – never never die
  • Friends, for the Christian life doesn’t stop at death.  Death for the Christian is not terminal, but transitional. Nearly well.  Yes the heart stops, breathing ceases, brain function disappears – but the soul lives on and on.  Death is but the connecting flight for the Christian.
  • Here the promise is that the soul of the believer does not perish, nor sleep – but at the moment of death, it is made perfect and goes into the immediate presence of the Lord.
  • We do not cease to exist when we die – in fact the Christian will be more alive then than ever before – lives and believes – lives spiritual life – never never die.
  • Can you imagine Lazarus on his second deathbed – no doubt he said to his sisters I am sorry to leave you for a little while – but there is a smile on his face I know where I go.
  • There is no interruption – not even the grave can separate the believer from the Lord – all it can do is usher us into His presence.  That is why Paul said, For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. It is why the Lord said to the thief on the cross, today you will be with me in paradise.
  • Christians live forever – what a wonderful assurance.  When we get to a certain age in life we can be overcome at times with a sense that this earthly tent is being taken down; look in mirror and life ebbing away – but for the Christian it is not – we have ever lasting life now – we are on the up.
  • No need for the Christian to fear death – the king of terrors is a defeated enemy – Where o death is your victory. Where o death is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power is sin is the law.  But thanks be to God He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ .

3. Do you Believe this?

  • In a home where there are little children there are always questions.
  • Sometimes a parent will have to ask a question of the child – do you want a TV ban?  Now of course we know what the answer to the question is – but we ask it to help the children clarify their position.
  • And Jesus asks Martha a question – not because He doesn’t know the answer – for He knows all things – but He asks this soul searching question – so that there will be clarification in her own mind.
  • I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me will live even though He dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?
  • You see Martha did have a general belief in the resurrection at the last day.  But the Lord wants to move her on to a personal trust in Him as the one who is the resurrection and life, the one who can give real life that not even the grave can destroy.
  • He is asking her to respond to Him personally.
  • And He is asking you and me this question today?  Do you believe this?  And He is waiting for your response.
  • That Jesus can raise sinners from the deadness of sin – that He can give you life, deal with your sin, reconcile you to God, so that death holds no fear – do you believe this?
  • It is the most important question that you will answer.  How you answer this question will have eternal implications.  Difference between heaven and hell.
  • Do you believe that what He offers is eternal life?
  • And the Lord wants us to answer as Martha did. Yes Lord.  I believe. In fact she says Yes Lord I have believed and continue to believe .  She has personally placed her trust in Christ and that trust in Him alone remains firm and continuing.
  • I is emphatic – all others might not have – but I have.
  • And her trust is not vague – it is anchored in this Jesus. Hear people saying – as long as you believe it doesn’t matter what you believe. I believe that you are the Christ the Son of God, who was to come into the world.
  • She is personally affirming that this Jesus she knows to be God’s sent one, sent into the world to die in the place of sinner so that they might have life, sent to be the substitute to die so that we might not die eternally.
  • My friend what of you?  He awaits your answer. This is not some interesting philosophical debate – this is truth that He wants you to do something about.
  • The gift of new and everlasting life is set before you and all He asks is that you will personally trust in Him alone to take away your sin and fit you for heaven.
  • How foolish to have the gift of life set before and not take – will you take Him.    Like Lazarus you will come forth immediately and have life eternal.
  • Soon this life will be gone, – nothing will matter then but how you have answered this question.
  • I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live even though He dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?