Summary: Fifth Sermon in the "I am" series. Jesus says He is the resurrection and the life. From John 11 we learn these things about Christ: 1. His response to us is Purposeful (vs.1-16) 2. His connection to us is Personal (vs.17-37) 3. His effect on us is Pow
I AM series #5 Castle Hills Christian Ch. 07-18-04
I AM the Resurrection and the Life
Scripture Reading: John 11:17-27
Chapter 11 is pivotal in John’s gospel. It contains the final action on Jesus’ part to set the stage for his arrest and crucifixion. It begins when Jesus receives word from Martha that Lazarus, her brother is very sick and could die if Jesus doesn’t come quickly. Jesus is touched by her request, but delays his return by a couple of days.
His men are already skittish about going back to the Jerusalem area because of the intensity of the opposition by Jewish leaders. They are confident that Jesus faces arrest if he returns to anywhere near Jerusalem and Bethany, where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus live, is only about 2 miles from Jerusalem.
The “I am” statement we will study today, “I am the resurrection and the life” (vs. 25) is made in the context of the event of raising Lazarus back to life after he had been in the tomb 4 days. This story connected with Jesus’ latest “I am” statement teaches us three important details about Jesus’ personality and his actions while he was living on earth.
1. His response to us is Purposeful John 11:1-16
Chapter 11 of John begins with a death-bed situation. Jesus’ friend Lazarus was very ill and near to death. His sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus about his condition and called for him to come quickly. As this story unfolded we discover that it is likely that If Jesus had come at once he would still have arrived in Bethany near or after the point of Lazarus’ death.
This reminds me of two elderly sisters who lived in Arcadia during my youth ministry days. One named Alpha, was always sick with some sort of ailment or another, the other, named Virginia, still worked in a county office even though she was in her late 70’s and never seemed to suffer from any kind of sickness. But the healthy sister would call me often to go to the hospital and visit her sick and dying sister. She would say, “Alpha is in bad shape. She could go any time now. Get over there as soon as you can.”
So I would drop what ever I was doing and drive 30 minutes away to a hospital in Clear Lake City to see Alpha, thinking that she surely was hooked up to machinery and on her last leg like her sister said. But when I arrived at the hospital and got into the room, Alpha would be sitting up in bed talking on the phone and watching TV. Now I’ll admit that there were many times I rushed over only to see that Alpha was no where near death, and in the end I finally learned that it wasn’t necessary to “rush” over to see Alpha. In fact, poor sickly dying Alpha lived for another 12 years after I left Arcadia. She outlived many other people supposedly more healthy than her.
This account of Jesus being called by Mary and Martha to come at once for Lazarus’ sake kind of calls to mind sickly old Alpha in Arcadia. And I noticed, that as I eventually learned to do, Jesus also felt no need to rush over there the moment he was called, although His delay was for a different reason.
In fact Jesus waited two days after he heard the news and then announced to his men his intention to return to Judea. They were shocked by Jesus declaration. After all, he had almost been stoned the last time he was in Jerusalem, and Bethany was a mere two miles from there. They questioned the wisdom of his travel to such a hot-spot, so he explained the purpose of his journey. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (vs.11)
Their response revealed their lack of understanding of what Jesus had told them. They mistakenly interpreted his words about Lazarus’ sleeping condition and assumed that with plenty of sleep he would surely get well and said so to Jesus. In response we notice in verse 14-15.
14So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Jesus repeatedly backed up his I AM statements with miracles; he was about to do it once again.
We observe the delay in this story and wonder why Jesus chose to wait two days before returning to Bethany. Was it procrastination? Or did Jesus have a method to his seeming madness? This also makes us wonder why God sometimes delays response to our prayers. Have you ever noticed answers seem to come at the last minute … sometimes when we think it is too late?)