Three days ago, we gathered to remember the suffering and death of Jesus. We recalled that though He was sinless, He became sin for us, taking on the penalty that we owe and paying a debt that we incurred.
Today, however, we celebrate that HE IS RISEN!!! Jesus is alive! And now, He sits and the right hand of the Father and intercedes on our behalf, providing us everything that we need to be His physical presence in the world today and establishing Heaven on earth!
This morning, we’re going to celebrate together something far greater than the traditional resurrection of Jesus. In fact, I believe that Jesus insists that we do. Raising from death to life is not just something that Jesus did, nor an event that we look forward to after we have passed away. Jesus gave us an object lesson to teach us exactly this. Jesus didn’t say that He would be resurrected or that He will resurrect us someday. Though these are both true, Jesus said, “I AM the resurrection!”
1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem,19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father,I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
Jesus said, “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?”
That is the question before all of us here this morning. Jesus did not only resurrect from the grave, nor will He only resurrect our bodies from the grave one day, Jesus IS the resurrection! Do you believe this? Paul warned Timothy about the days in which we are currently living:
2 Timothy 3:1-5
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
Jesus is encouraging all of us this morning in the same way that Paul warned and encouraged Timothy. There are ones who call themselves Christians. They have a form of godliness. They live an upright and moral life. They say with their lips that they trust in Jesus for their salvation. However, their lives are void of the transforming and undeniable resurrection power that God gives those who live by faith. We are warned to have nothing to do with such people. This morning, however, I believe that Jesus is giving us the encouragement on the other side of that warning. We are being encouraged to find people who call themselves Christians, have a form of godliness, and live by the resurrection power of Jesus!
Find people like Dal whom the enemy just can’t keep down and learn from their faith. Find ones who face the troubles of this life, but live life displaying the power of the resurrection in the midst of them all! Learn from them, be encouraged by them, let them lay hands on you and impart that resurrection power into your life! Find ones who are doing the things that Jesus said that we would do if we truly believe in Him:
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Jesus used the death of Lazarus as an object lesson for us to be able to see and understand the truth behind the resurrection. Jesus wants to take us this morning from believers with our lips only to believers who put their faith into action. Jesus is challenging us in the same way that He challenged Martha. Most of us here this morning believe in the ability for Jesus to do all things and openly confess it. However, our faith limits His ability to do these things after we die and are resurrected. Jesus is challenging us, as He did to Martha, that the resurrection is not an act, but a person. Jesus is the resurrection and there is nothing too far gone for Him to resurrect right here and right now. He wants to increase our faith! Let’s read again that challenge and apply it to ourselves.
We say to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus says “Your brother will rise again.”
We answer, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus says to us,”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?”
We say to Jesus, “I know that we will receive whatever we ask for in prayer.” However, our little faith limits that answered prayer to whenever we enter Heaven. We excuse our lack of faith with cute phrases that Jesus and the early church never used such as, “in God’s perfect timing.” We have a form of godliness, but deny God’s power. Let’s be honest with ourselves. We are like Martha, fully trusting and believing in Jesus, but lacking in faith.
Jesus says to us, “I AM the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?” Jesus then goes on to fulfill His word that Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death. Did Lazarus die? Yes! Did Lazarus’ story end in death? No!
Whatever circumstances you may be facing this morning. Whatever seems like it will simply never change until Jesus calls us home. No matter how “dead” things may seem. This morning, Jesus is asking us if we believe that He is the resurrection and the life. This morning, Jesus is ready and willing to bring radical transformation into those things. He is ready to invade those circumstances so that they are here on the earth as they are in Heaven. Right here, right now, today!
How was Jesus raised from the grave? What provided that resurrection power? The Holy Spirit! We’re not waiting 50 days for Pentecost to talk about it, either!
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
You have the greatest power that ever has, ever does, and ever will exist in all of creation living inside of you if you believe in Jesus! Don’t deny that power, don’t excuse away powerlessness, and don’t diminish your faith! Let your faith grow greater and greater. Trust completely that what God’s word says is true. The same Holy Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave lives in us!
I can now raise the dead to life, heal the sick, cast out demons, speak in new tongues, sing new songs of praise, overcome temptation, defeat death, speak life, and far more not because of me, but because of Jesus! Now we can bless those who curse us, give our shirt to the one who steals our coat, walk the extra mile, and turn the other cheek. These are not acts of weakness, they are acts of power. They are acts that display that we, through the Holy Spirit, have the fruit of self control. They are acts that serve as evidence that we cannot be manipulated or controlled, but rather, can display the powerful love of God in every circumstance. One can intellectually deny God and argue about His Kingdom, but when they are miraculously healed or delivered or provided for, you’ll have a hard time convincing them that there is not one true God who powerfully loves them.
Since it is the Holy Spirit alone at work in and through us, it doesn’t matter my strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, it only matters that I bow my life down and let God be God and exalted. My words and thoughts and opinions do not matter, but God’s word alone that will stand the test of time and stand when all else fails. It will be God’s words, and not mine, that will accomplish exactly what they were sent out to do.
Jesus promised not to leave us as orphans, but to send the Holy Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit enables us to do everything that Jesus did and even greater things according to Jesus’ own words!
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Jesus then goes on and promises to give us the Holy Spirit through whom we are no longer orphans, but adopted into the family and inheritance of God. We now have no excuse to live a life as a victim of circumstances. We have been given this resurrection power to reign victorious and to transform circumstances into agreement with God’s word and His will! Jesus wants to increase our faith, as He did for Martha, from believing that He will do it someday to seeing Him do it now. From eagerly waiting for it to happen at the resurrection to eagerly expecting it to happen now by Jesus, the one who is the resurrection, through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.
May we be able to speak the words of Paul regarding our own selves and the life that we live:
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
May we stand and give testimony like Peter and John did:
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
Let us be ones who need not say a word to those who speak against us. Us, unschooled, ordinary men and women who have simply been with Jesus. Let us be ones who rely on Jesus alone to be our Defender and allow the evidence of our lives speak for itself and convict those who speak against us. Let the many evidences of the resurrection power made available through the Holy Spirit be truly evident in our lives. Let the empowering grace of God, His unfailing love and mercy, and His willingness to forgive all sin be evident through our weaknesses and failures.
Today is the day of salvation! If you are like me and need the resurrection power of Jesus in your life. Perhaps you’ve never put your faith in Jesus, or you are just hungry for more of His powerful Presence in your life, please stand as we give ourselves to Him and ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with the same power that rose Jesus from the grave!