Summary: A funeral message, explaining what Jesus meant by calling Himself "the resurrection and the life", and how that comforts us in time of loss.
One day a father and his daughter were out for a leisurely drive in the country. It was a hot summer day and the windows were rolled down. Suddenly the daughter began screaming and fidgeting in her seat. A bee had just flown inside the car through the open window. This would not have been a problem for most children, but for this little girl, it was a problem. You see, this girl was very allergic to bee stings. In fact, even one sting could send her into a coma. As the girl was flailing her arms around, the father quickly pulled over to the side of the road, then calmly reached over and held his daughter’s arms down. Then, he himself, with his big and strong hands, caught the mad bumblebee. The bee promptly stung the man, and he threw the bee out the window. The girl, still in hysterics and in tears, was unable to calm down. The loving father reached over and held her. And he whispered these words in her ears: “It’s OK. It won’t hurt you now. I took the sting for you.”
Today we are facing the sting of death – the pain it inflicts on all people around it. But the Bible says these words: “"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death has been taken by Jesus when He died for you and me. He made death for the believer a transition into something better. The famous Baptist pastor D.L. Moody used to say, “Some day, you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now!” Gertie is more alive today than she ever has been because Jesus took the pain out of her death.
John 11:25-26 – Hope for Tomorrow, Strength for Today
Often when death and other hard times hit, we wonder if God is seeing any of it. We wonder if God cares about us. This afternoon, I just want to share a few words about God seeing the hard times we go through. One day, shortly before His own death, Jesus went into the town of Bethany. He was good friends with some people who lived there. Two sisters named Mary and Martha, and their brother named Lazarus. Lazarus had just died, and the two sisters were hurting. In fact, when Jesus showed up, Martha went out to meet Him. And the first words of out Martha’s mouth were: “If you had been here, this wouldn’t have happened.” Often at times of death, a lot of blame gets thrown around. Don’t do it. Don’t find blame with what other people should have done differently. Just allow others to grieve in their own way.
So Martha is blaming God for the death of her brother. But her next words are: “But I know that you can still pray and make it better.” So even if she was angry at Jesus and throwing blame His way, she still had a hope that God might be able to make this whole thing better.
And Jesus said: “Lazarus will rise again.” Martha knew enough about Jewish theology to know that one day, all the graves will open and the dead will rise from them. She said: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the dead.”
Jesus took this phrase and said: “Actually, I am the resurrection and the life.” Now, what did He mean by this? The Bible calls Jesus the Wonderful Counselor. What kind of counsel or advice was this? What did Jesus mean? How could His words help Martha in her time of loss? How can the words of Jesus help you in your time of loss? What comfort can Jesus’ words give you, even today, as we say goodbye to Gertie?
Well, Martha knew that things would be better someday. The resurrection, that sweet by-and-by, that hope of seeing her loved one again someday. She had a hope that things would be OK someday. Jesus said, “I am that hope. You’re waiting for the resurrection to give you hope? Well, I am the resurrection. I can give you hope. I am the promise of a better day. I am who you need to get you through this. I am the promise of things being better someday.”
You see, folks, Jesus is our hope. He is our only hope of surviving death, because He is in control over it. He is the resurrection. That word means “alive again.” That is, even when life hits us hard, when the scariest thing in the world attacks us, the thing we have no control over, we can trust in Jesus, because He has the power to make us alive again.