Life after death, do you believe it? John 11: 17 -11:46
The 100 million dollar question that is often asked is there life after death? A whole host of answers are proposed from reincarnation to resurrection.
Abraham Lincoln said “Surely God would not have created such a being as man to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality. Others think when you’re dead your dead.
Atheist Bertrand Russell said, “Death is a night of nothingness.” Some people don’t even want to consider it like Woody Allan said, “I don’t fear death I just don’t want to be around when it happens. “What is the real answer to this question... is there life after death?
People often talk about near death experiences where they find themselves in a dark tunnel approaching a marvellous light. Many medical experts will debunk and explain these near death experiences as mere neurological actions of the brain and body as its systems begin to shut down approaching death, then suddenly restarting a bit like rebooting a computer.
“I personally believe we all have near death experiences because life itself is a near death experience!”
Yet others will say we will never know because nobody has ever come back from the dead to tell us? I want to rebuff that statement: John 11:25. 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?”
The important question Jesus asks, I put to you all tonight... "Do you believe it?" I think one of the most poignant times in our lives when people truly begin to address the question of life and death issues is at those times of loss, suffering and grief when those we love have gone, the grief is often twofold: Yes we grieve for the one we have lost and loved but also I believe we grieve over the fact that the same fate awaits us all.
Video section ; The questions raised between two brothers.
set the scene: The funeral @ Bethany
Jesus had been preaching in the villages beyond the Jordan, when he received news of the sickness of his friend Lazarus v3 in reply Jesus made an amazing statement in v4 Jesus did not leave straight away, he waited two days before returning to Judea v6. Jesus knew Lazarus would be dead when he arrived, in order to bring glory to God and for the Son to be glorified. As he would demonstrate His power over death.
Jesus arrives while the family is still in mourning, over the death of Lazarus, Mary and Martha had family and friends alongside to comfort them v19. They believed that if Jesus had been their during his sickness, Jesus could have saved Him. (Miracles had been done) v22 as far as they were concerned Jesus had missed the opportunity to save him and four days had passed and the body had started to decompose. Their hope had diminished, but is death really the end? Has all hope been lost? The answer of course is No.......
Yet death is certain, yet here in Jesus we see a person who does care, a person who is not distant and removed from our grief, one who wept v35 as he sees the grief death imprints on the human soul, he was deeply moved and troubled v33 with the whole affair of death. Because death was never meant to be for humanity... He weeps over the damage it causes in this world and in the case here for the family of Lazarus.
So Jesus will act, he is prepared to do something about death, to show that hope isn’t distinguished by death but is rekindled with life as Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead..... v38. This miracle means that our lives too can be rekindled with life even though we die, through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!
I urge you all tonight to thoughtfully consider your own mortality; don’t leave it to the next funeral you attend, because the next funeral could be your own..... Consider it tonight, while your still living, face up the reality of your own death and the life to come, surrender your life to Jesus then watch Jesus bring life which is twofold – from spiritual death to spiritual life while your living – and from physical death to eternal life in God’s presence .
1. Jesus teaches that he is the author of life over death. V24 -25. AND THE LIFE.
How did life begin? Was it a complete accident? Did we really come from nothing more than a piece of Rock? Did we evolve through the ghoo to the zoo ? Was it all a product of blind chance? I suppose if you believe that you can understand it when people say “When you’re dead your dead!"
If we are building our life on these foundations, life will bring a sense of utter meaningless and the only meaning for living we will possess will be found in our ....possessions, pursuits, pleasures, friends and families but when these things are lost around us (Like falling sand in our grasp) which will take place what will we have left? Often our grief is not related only to what we have lost but for what awaits us....NOTHING.
French philosopher Voltaire once exclaimed that men are ‘tormented atoms in a bit of mud, devoured by death, a mockery of fate. This world, this theatre of pride and wrong, swarms with sick fools who talk of happiness.’ Atheist Bertrand Russell said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”
Russell is correct that unless you assume there is a God life’s purpose is meaningless…. You see Jesus is the resurrection and the life…He is the author of all life:
John 1:1-4.In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made: without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life and that life was a light to men.
Martha’s grief wasn’t without hope either notice v22 Lord if you had been here… because of Jesus. Then Jesus explains that her brother will rise again v23 Your brother will rise again she knew that v24 I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. She believes in life after death, she has hope, but she wants life in him in the here and now.
Jesus delivers because His words are more than just an encouragement to the future hope of the resurrection. Jesus words have the power to do something, that only he can do, and that is to bring life into the dead. Lazarus who had been dead for four days, would be raised v43- 44. All bringing glory to God to prove that Jesus is the Son of God the author of life …… Lazarus was given a 2nd chance at life
On Thursday afternoon I meet a friend who had recently had a heart attack as a result he needed a stench placed in one of his arteries so the blood could freely flow threw to his heart. He said to me Aubrey I’ve received a 2nd chance at life I’m going to grab it with both hands. This man was a Christian he knew there was a resurrection upon death but he saw with clearer eyes that God had given him life a 2nd chance!
Did you know Lazarus wasn’t the only person who was raised from death to life that day?
V45 many put their faith in Him. They were brought from death to life also they believed in Jesus… Prior to this point they did not believe in Christ they to were dead spiritual still in their sin of unbelief.
And that means tonight there are those of us who are spiritual dead without faith in Christ and those who are alive, with faith in Christ, but the good news is you can have a resurrection experience in your own life if you put your faith in the author of life.
The Romans sometimes compelled a captive to be joined face-to-face with a dead body, and to bear it about until the horrible emanating smell destroyed the life of the living victim. Virgil describes this cruel punishment:
’The living and the dead at his command
Were coupled face to face, and hand to hand;
Till choked with stench, in loathed embraces tied,
The lingering wretches pined away and died.
Without Christ, we are shackled to a dead corpse -- our sinfulness. Eph 2:1 says we are dead in our transgressions and sins. Only repentance and faith frees us from certain death, for life and death coexist indefinitely.
Only God has the power to raise you from your unbelief and give you a resurrection life. Gives you real hope in this life and the one to come.
2. Jesus demonstrates his power over death .
Death is no respecter of persons in can come at any age, any time and in any place but what we see from this passage is that Jesus has not only the power to bring life into those who believe in Him but that also Jesus has the power as the creator of life over death itself it is confirmation to us of the resurrection itself.
In fact what took place here was not some symbolic act, but supernatural events, this was a real life emergency situation where Jesus stepped in and did battle with the ravages of sin and death.
Friends Jesus can destroy sin in our lives, conquer death with resurrection and give kingdom purposes in our lives. He has the power to give resurrection life. "Do you believe it?"
A less than true story of a man went on vacation to the Holy Land with his wife and her mother. While in Israel, the mother-in-law died from a heart attack. The couple went to a local undertaker, who explained that they could either ship the body home which would cost more than $1500, or they could bury her right there in the Holy Land for only $150. The man said, "We’ll ship her home. "Surprised, the undertaker responded, "Are you sure? That’s an awfully big expense, and we can do a very nice burial here. "The man said, "Look, 2000 years ago they buried a guy here and three days later He rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance."
Jesus often did battle with the consequences of sin and death as his kingdom collided with the kingdom of this world. In his ministry Jesus demonstrated not only that he had the power to forgive sins but the power over death in fact there were four occasions : 1. Lazarus John 11.17- 45 2. Jarius daughter Matt.9:18-26 3. The, widow’s son Luke 7:11-15. And the saddest times for these families Jesus ministered into their lives and brought healing and hope back into the lives.....
You might be asking when was the forth occasion well that was the greatest one of all....
b. With his own resurrection.
Jesus himself the one who died and rose again! His own resurrection is the confirmation of the words the Lord Jesus spoke v25 that those who who believe in Him even though he dies will live.
You see in Adam when he sinned came death to us all with no exceptions - but in Christ comes life ... 1Cor 15: 21 -22 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Can you all see what I have in my hand? Its a receipt and what purpose does a receipt serve? It is the proof that the payment has been made fo the items I,ve ecently bought. That’s what Jesus’ resurrection is, the receipt, the proof that the payment is made, that death and sin no longer have power over us.
c. Our own resurrection
The resurrection happens to us. Like those first disciples, our greatest need is not just to see or hear about the resurrection, but to have the resurrection happen to us inside. A new life encounter. The Bible says anyone in Christ is a new creation the old has gone and the new has come 2Cor 5:17.
Lloyd Ogilvie says, “The most powerful historical proof of the resurrection is the ‘resurrected’ disciples. Dull, defeated people became fearless, adventuresome leaders. Cowards became courageous; the timid became triumphant; the inept did the impossible. ‘He is risen!’ became the joyous chant of a new life without limits” (Life without Limits,)
The apostle Paul who said to live is Christ to die is gain, How could he say that as he neared the end of His life because he believed in the statement that Jesus said John 11:25. 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?” You see death is not the end eternity awaits in heaven.
The planting story : A little 8 year old boy was learning in school how plants grow, he was intrigued how a tiny seed can germinates in the ground and later burst through the ground, that week he attended a funeral where the pastor talked about the final resurrection of our bodies. Several days later as the family travelled passed the cemetery the boy remarked “that’s where they plant people” Seeds planted and bodies buried had made a connection in this boys mind. Friends we will be germinated we will be raised!
Apostle Paul also used this illustration of planting seed to describe the final bodily resurrection 1Cor 15: 35 -43. In
Did you know that in June 2006 Israeli doctors and scientists successfully germinated a 2000 year old date palm, found at the Herodian fortress of Masada on the West Bank of the Dead Sea the seed was tagged the Methuselah.
Friends there is coming a time when another seed is going to be germinated at some point in history YOURS is going to be planted, what will it be raised too? Jesus offers us all this opportunity of life in the here and now and eternal life after death... The question I leave you with is from the lips of Jesus “Do you believe this?”