Who Is Jesus? #5: The Resurrection and the Life!

Sermon Notes (Sunday September 6th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor


Who Is Jesus? #5: The Resurrection and the Life!

Job 14:1-14; John 11:17-27


The famous American evangelist and publisher D. L. Moody (1837-1899) who founded the Moody Bible Institute was called on as a young preacher, as the story was told, to preside at a funeral. Moody decided to search the four gospels in order to find one of Jesus’ funeral sermons. He discovered that Jesus never spoke at a funeral. In fact, Jesus broke up every funeral He ever attended. Wherever Jesus went, He pushed back death. When the dead heard His voice, they sprang to life. Jesus didn’t do funerals. He is the Resurrection and the Life. This is why we don’t believe in the finality of death. Jesus is life and new life. The resurrection from the death is at the very center of Christian belief, and that is why you and I get comforted when death takes away someone who is dear to our hearts, a spouse, a son, a daughter, a mom, a dad, or a friend.


This morning we continue our series on the seven “I am” statements of Jesus in the gospel of John. The fifth statement is found in John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” In the events of John chapter 11, Martha and Mary come to believe in Jesus in a much deeper way. And the gospel story invites us to join them in this faith journey. What might it mean for us to believe Jesus when He says, “I am the resurrection and the life”? Please allow me to underscore three important observations:


First: Resurrection and Life are Possible

Probably the most obvious meaning behind Jesus’ words, “I am the resurrection and the life,” is that resurrection and life are possible. Just like when Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world,” “I am the gate,” and “I am the good shepherd” – Jesus was making a powerful connection between Himself and God. In other words, He is declaring divinity.


Resurrection and life are possible because Jesus is the giver of life. All through this gospel, John presents Jesus as the giver of life. In the prologue of John’s gospel, in John 1:4, he wrote, “In Him was life; and the life was the light of all people.” That’s not only a physical life, but spiritual life as well. It is God’s life that humans were created to contain, the life that centers in a personal love relationship with God (17:3). This is the life Jesus offers to Nicodemus, the religious leader who seemed to have it all (3:16). This is the life He offered to the woman at the well, whose life was so empty (4:13,14). This is the life He offered to multitude after He fed them with bread (6:35). This is the life He offered to the worshippers in Jerusalem at the Feast of Booths (7:37,38). This is the life He offered to man born blind and those who were like him spiritually (8:12). This is the life He offered to His flock (10:10). Now to a man who is in the ultimate state of death, Jesus presents Himself as life in its ultimate expression – resurrection life. Yes, resurrection and life are possible in Jesus!


Second: New Life Comes at a Cost

While that sounds easy in theory, we know that new life always comes at some cost, some pain, some grief. In our gospel story, Lazarus didn’t get his new life until after he had died. Martha and Mary didn’t get their new, deeper faith until after they had experienced the death of their brother. Along with their sadness, the women apparently also felt frustrated with Jesus for not being there when they thought He should have been. Anger, abandonment, disappointment, and loss of control are all aspects of grief that are felt quite naturally at times of death. Even if we believe in resurrection, even if that belief gives us hope and joy, death still hurts. Job wrestled with that in Job chapter 14.


Lazarus’ new life came at a high cost to Jesus also. Besides losing a friend that Jesus obviously cared about, in order to go to Lazarus, Jesus had to put Himself at great risk. Part of the reason Jesus might have delayed His coming was that the Jewish leaders had just recently tried to stone Him. Jesus knew that, if He went back to Judea to help Lazarus, He would draw attention, trouble, and death. And, in fact, that’s what happened. I read the story through verse 27. In the remaining verses of chapter 11, we see that Jesus had to go into hiding because the Jewish leaders gave orders to arrest Him. As you well know, when Jesus eventually came out of hiding, He was arrested and put to death on the cross. Resurrection and life are wonderful things. But it’s a sad truth that renewal rarely comes without some kind of pain and struggle. It’s not easy to be born, and it’s often harder to be reborn. New life is a high value for us as Christians. But it’s worth remembering that resurrection and life come at a cost.


Third: Resurrection and Life Require us to Step Outside

When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” He wasn’t just returning to Lazarus and family where they were. He wasn’t leaving them in their status quo positions. Just as He called Lazarus to step out of the tomb, Jesus was also calling Martha and Mary to step outside of their house, outside their village of Bethany, and outside of their familiar Jewish tradition. Jesus was calling them to step outside their comfort zones into a new way of faith and life. “What if Jesus failed to get Lazarus back to life?” Mary and Martha would’ve asked. “How are we going to face the mockery of the people in Bethany if it doesn’t happen?” They definitely stepped outside their comfort zones!


Jesus is asking the same thing from us today. Resurrection and life for us as individuals and as a congregation require us to step outside. What is that God asking us to do today? How and where will our spiritual growth come? Will it be that we individually step out of our comfort zone of worship-only and add to that a Bible study or small group? Will we let down our guard and become more teachable? Will we step out of our protected space and into mission outreach? Will we open up our insider circle and invite someone new to participate in our ministries? In all those ways and more, I hope we are able to step outside our box to claim resurrection and life.


Friends, we don’t always know where resurrection and life will take us. But I do know that it will take us to amazing places. God is not the God of the dead but of the living. Matthew 22:32 says, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” The great reformer Martin Luther was often plagued by times of deep and very dark mental depression. On one such occasion he was virtually inconsolable. The Pope was after him – he was publicly proclaimed and condemned as a heretic and a criminal – his own colleagues were fighting amongst themselves – and he was in excruciating pain from kidney stones. The situation was so bleak that his wife Katie approached her husband and told him that God is dead. Luther turned to his wife in puzzlement and replied, “God is not dead!” Katie then told her husband: “It sure seems like God is dead by the way you are acting.” Luther thanked his wife and went and etched five letters on the top of his desk: v-i-v-i-t. “V-i-v-i-t” is a Latin word that means “He (Jesus Christ) Lives!” When Luther was sick, as he often was, he would trace his finger over those letters etched into the top of his desk. When Luther was depressed, as he often was, he would trace his finger over those letters etched into the top of his desk. V-i-v-i-t. He lives! Jesus lives! And because Jesus lives, you and I today can experience the power of this fifth statement, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Remember resurrection and life are possible, new life comes at a cost, and resurrection and life require us to step outside of our comfort zone. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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