Summary: What does this "I am " Statement of Jesus mean for us today?
“I am Resurrection and the Life” - John 11:25
Story "An Arab chief tells the story of a spy captured and sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army.
This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and going through ’the big black door.’
The moment for execution drew near, and the guards brought the spy to the Persian general.
’What will it be,’ asked the general, ’the firing squad or the ’big black door.’
The spy hesitated for a long time.
Finally, he chose the firing squad.
A few minutes later, hearing the shots ring out confirming the spy’s execution, the general turned to his aide and said,
’They always prefer the known to the unknown. People fear what they don’t know. Yet, we gave him a choice.’
’What lies beyond the big door?’ asked the aide.
Freedom and Life," replied the general. "I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it."
I would like to focus on seven words from this morning’s reading:
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the Life” (Jn 11:25)
And pose the question of whether we are willing to take that life or not
The context of Jesus statement
I am the resurrection and the Life
is the famous story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
Friend after friend had stepped forward, hugged Martha and kissed her and said, “Your brother will rise again”.
She had probably lost track of the number of times she heard it - as she stood by the coffin and at the tomb of her brother Lazarus.
And now Jesus came along and said the same thing “Your brother will rise again” (Jn 11:23).
Choking back a sob, she said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (Jn 11:24) but that would be a long way off - and didn’t give her much comfort right then.
Then Jesus makes an astounding statement – one of the seven famous “I am” statements recorded in John’s Gospel
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”
In the midst of Lazarus’ death and burial, Jesus makes this paradoxical claim
“I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
What did Jesus mean by that?
2. I am the resurrection
But may I start by asking:
Have you ever thought how the resurrection of the Lord differed from other raisings from the dead that we find in the Bible?
Have you ever wondered what Paul meant when he said in 1 Cor. 15:20 that Jesus
“has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again”
when there are earlier records of people being brought back to life in both the Old and New Testaments.
For example, we read of
1. The raising of the Sidonian widow’s son by Elijah
(1 Ki. 17:7-24) or
2. The raising of the Shunammite woman’s son by Elisha (2 Ki. 4:8-37)
Or indeed the rather obscure record of a dead man being thrown onto Elisha’s bones during a Moabite raid.
As the dead man touched Elisha’s bones, he was raised to life (2 Ki. 13:20-21).
And in the New Testament, you may well recall Jesus raising at least three people from the dead.
1. The raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mk. 5:22-43)
2. The Raising of the son of the widow of Nain
(Lk. 7:11-17) and
3. The Raising of Lazarus – an event that is well known even outside church circles.
How did their raisings differ from that of Jesus?
Well the answer lies in the fact that in each instance, the person raised died again.
Jesus’ resurrection was unique.
When he was raised, he did not die again – he ascended into heaven and lives today.
Why is it important that he really did rise from the dead.
Is it true?
Well I don’t have time this morning to go into all the evidence but suffice it to say an English House of Lords’ judge once said that “the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best proved fact in history”
So what does it mean for us today?
Story: A Muslim in Africa became a Christian and some of his friends asked him why.
He answered: Well, it is like this: suppose you were going down a road and suddenly the road forked in two directions.
And you didn’t know which way to go.
If you met two men at the fork – one dead and one alive – which one would you ask to show you the way?”
Which brings me to a second point.
3. Jesus said: I am the Life