Summary: An "If Only" attitude keeps us focused and living in the past. We are commanded by Christ to live with and for Him in the present.
John 11: 32 – 44 / If Only . . .
Intro: While pulling out of her driveway, Georgene noticed a mangled ball of fur laying in the street. She pulled the car back into the driveway and walked over to discover that her son’s cat had been run over by a car. Not wanting to upset Billie, she decided to dispose of the “remains” and deal with the demise of the cat when Billie noticed it was gone. The next day, Billie asked about his cat. Georgene patiently explained to Billie that his cat had died and was not in heaven with God. Billie looked at her with disbelief in his eyes and said, “What does God want with a dead cat?”
I. The reality of this story recorded only in the gospel of John is that a dear friend has died. The death of a friend or a loved one Is not an easy time for any of us.
A. VS. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Isn’t this how we respond to the death of a loved one? There is a feeling of void and emptiness without them; a recognition that life is never going to be the same; a feeling of regret mainly due to guilt associated with something we may have done or may have failed to do . . . IF ONLY!
B. Mary trusts and believes in Jesus, that he actually could have prevented the death of Lazarus had he been around at the time; but now it was too late!
C. John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” THE PAST.
II. VS. 40 – “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Most religious and philosophies teach 1 of 3 things concerning what happens when we die:
A. 1) We are dead forever. 2) Our soul escapes the body and drifts back to heaven and joins the boundless pool of soul stuff in the sky, 3) We become angels and then do good deeds to earn our wings.
B. None of these options are found in the Bible. The pronoun “YOU” used here is 2nd person plural indicating that Jesus isn’t just speaking to Mary. Jesus is talking about resurrection to the crowd and to us.
C. Belief in resurrection is the belief that God makes us new again and for eternity mind, soul, and spiritual body. WHEN? Martha’s believe was it would occur sometime in the far off future.
III. Resurrection is not an event to come --- it is a person. VSS. 25 – 26 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
A. To believe Jesus is the life-giving power of God in human flesh is to believe that anyone who accepts this truth about Him will experience that life-giving creative power in a personal way NOW!
B. We die in many different ways: We die when we receive a pink slip, we die to our dreams and hopes, we dies when we move to another town, state or country, we die to hold habits, old comforts, and long relationships, we die as we age to youth’s energy and dreams, to muscles that don’t ache and a heart that is strong and healthy. As Christian disciples we die to our old life and we turn to the new abundant life that God invites us to live.
C. Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live. Placing our trust in Jesus---no matter what happens---frees us for life and victory over death.
Conclu: Jesus wants us to experience resurrection right now! Our hopes can die. Our joys can die. Our loves can die. Our peace can die. Our aspirations can die. We can be overcome by a defeatist spirit which can be as deadly as death itself. But Jesus is the resurrection for all the dead places in our lives. --- Jesus speaks to all those dead issues, all those IF ONLYS of our life and tells us to come alive. Get up and enjoy every day as a gift from God. Let Jesus live in your life. Let the Lord be the strength of your life. Don’t remain in the grave of all your fears and doubts. Get up! Come alive and be blessed by God every day.