Summary: We can know what it is to be alive in Christ. Right here, right now. As Paul said, "It's no longer I that lives but Christ lives in me."
John 11:17-37 Am I willing to rise and live?
A good mate of Jesus had died; Jesus knew of his death it appears, even before the news had reached him in an earthly way.
If we read the passage that precedes the one that we have read today we can also see that Jesus used Lazarus death to answer some questions about who he was, who he is.
Jesus was going to use the death of Lazarus as a display of who he was and also the power of God.
With death comes grief, Lazarus had lived and died in the town of Bethany, a town that was a couple of miles from Jerusalem and it appears he was a fairly popular kind of a bloke as we see in John Chapter 11:18 That “many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.”
Jesus himself was not in Jerusalem at the time he was back across the Jordan River in the place where John the Baptist had carried out baptisms in the early days of Jesus ministry. At the end of John Chapter ten it’s recorded that “in that place many believed in Jesus” (John 10:42). He had received news (probably by snail mail) from Lazarus’s sisters that Lazarus was not at all well, he was really crook. Jesus had reached the outskirts of Bethany and discovered that Lazarus had been dead for four days (hold up four fingers).
There’s an interesting aside to this story and that’s that the Jewish people believed that ‘a persons spirit’ would hang around the tomb for three days (called the days of mourning) looking for an opportunity to re-enter the body but after those three days would leave the location of the body, so on the forth day it was thought decomposition of the body would begin. Four days after Lazarus’s death is where we find Jesus arriving at Bethany. For all intension purposes Lazarus was decomposing! We find his sisters grieving their loss.
Lazarus’s sisters were; Martha as we know from scripture was the ‘go getter’, always busy and Mary who was quiet and contemplative.
Now days we would probably say that it was likely Martha was an Extravert and Mary an Introvert.
Martha went out to meet Jesus as he was on the way to their house, Mary stayed home to be comforted until she heard Jesus was with Martha.
Both of them on meeting Jesus used the same words; “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
The message that Jesus gave to Martha who he encountered first was this, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha‘s reply was; “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
She had faith that the dead would rise at the last day, so what was Jesus reply? Now this is strange…really strange and I would pick that this was the first time ever in history these words had been spoken.
Out of Jesus mouth comes this bold 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. Do you believe this?”
Jesus had said “I am the resurrection and the life.” This statement was practically the same as saying (I am the giver of life).
Let’s go way back in time as they say, back to the time when Moses was a shepherd. God had visited Moses through a burning bush and told him to front up to the Pharaoh, Moses was a bit put out and said, this is the Moffatt paraphrased version “well if I go and tell the other Israelites who sent me, what do I say. Who do I tell them sent me?”
We read in Exodus 3:14 NIV “God said to Moses, “I AM Who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “
Jesus in repeating this name of God, “I Am” was indeed bold, this was the fifth I AM statement Jesus had made.
Jesus made it clear that these things ‘resurrection and life’ were his, not only that they were his, but were him – these two things were dependant on his being.
What does he say? “I am the resurrection and the life.”
1) Up until that time; some had believed in the resurrection from death of those who believed in God, on the final day. Jesus makes it clear this will happen as he is the resurrection and the life.
Paul who came to believe in Jesus after Jesus death and resurrection when he was writing to another disciple Timothy wrote this; …it has been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”