Summary: Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life." The message explores what it means to have Jesus as your life, and to live abundantly.
(Preached Easter Sunday 2006)
As the children are going out, I’m reminded of the story of a Sunday School teacher who was extremely enthusiastic. She looked at her class of four-years olds and asked this question: “Does anyone know what today is?”
A little girl held up her finger and said, “Yes today is Palm Sunday.” “That’s fantastic!” the teacher replied. “Does anyone know what next Sunday is?”
The same little girl held up her finger and said, “Next Sunday is Easter Sunday.” Again the teacher replied, “That’s great!”
Then the teacher asked, “Does anyone know what makes next Sunday Easter?” The little girl again responded, “Yes, next Sunday is Easter Sunday because Jesus rose from the grave.” But before the teacher could again congratulate her, she continued, “But if he sees his shadow, he has to go back in for seven weeks!”
Some years ago, a letter appeared in the national news that was sent to a deceased person by the Indiana Department of Social Services. It would figure this type of behavior would come out of that Hoosier state. Again, the letter was sent to a deceased person, and it read as follows:
“Your food stamps will be stopped effective March, 1992, because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”
Well there haven’t been too many who have seen a change in those circumstances! But there have been a few, and typically on Easter Sunday pastors will especially focus on one of those. . .that being the resurrection of Christ. However, I am not a typical pastor, so I want us to take some time and look at another resurrection.
We are in John chapter 11 (read through verse 26a).
If we were to read on, you would see that Jesus does in fact raise Lazarus from the dead. They move the stone away from the front of the tomb, Jesus calls Lazarus out, and out he comes. Jesus tells them to unwrap him from the burial clothes, and Lazarus goes on to live for another period of time there in Bethany.
But I want us to focus in on those words of Jesus in verse 25. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Contrary to common logic, two very distinct, and even in some ways different, things. It would seem that one would be sufficient, right? If you are resurrected, you would be alive. If you are alive, and were once dead, you would be resurrected. However, Jesus separates the two, and for good reason.
Let’s start with the resurrection. When Jesus says He is the resurrection, He is identifying a quality of who He is that is good news for the dead. He is saying that contrary to popular belief, life doesn’t have to end at death. Because I am the resurrection.
Back in the day, there were a group of people within Judaism known as the Sadducees. They were from a very affluent part of the society of their day, and many of them belonged to the priestly class. However, one of the distinctives of this group was that they denied the resurrection of the dead. They saw it as impossible. And subsequently they did not believe there was anything after death. Death was the end. Finished. Caput. That is why my dad always used to say, “They were Sad. . .you see?”
In fact, they even confronted Jesus and asked Him about the resurrection of the dead, because they knew that He taught otherwise. He even went so far as to teach that He is the resurrection. He is the hope that death is not the end. That the grave is not our eternal home. That the last chapter on earth is not the last chapter of the book.
Not only did He teach that, but He lived that, and rose from the grave Himself. And despite the fact that scientists and skeptics would like to deny that it ever happened, the reality of it is that it did, and there were actually hundreds of witnesses that verified it.
In fact, if we had each person that witnessed the resurrected Christ come up here this morning and talk for 15 minutes giving a testimony to what they saw. If we listened to the testimony of all the people that Jesus appeared to, we would be here all day, and all night, and Monday and Monday night and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and sometime early Friday morning they would just be wrapping up the testimony.
It would take over 128 straight hours just to hear, for 15 minutes each, the testimony of those that saw Jesus after He rose, and proved that He is the resurrection.
There was a Moslem and a Christian in a discussion, and the Moslem said to the Christian, “We Moslems have one thing you Christians do not have. When we go to Medina (Saudi Arabia), we find a coffin and we know that Mohammed lived because his body is in it. But when, you Christians go to Jerusalem, you find nothing but an empty tomb.”