Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Lazarus Saturday - I am the Resurrection and The Life

Volume 5 No. 273 March 28, 2015

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Jesus Raising Lazarus - by Rembrandt
Jesus Raising Lazarus by Rembrandt
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

Jesus was saying to His grieving friend, "Martha, listen to Me. Death is not the end! You're acting as though it is over with. It is not over with." And at this point, I think He was speaking of something greater and more profound than the resurrection of Lazarus, which He would accomplish within that very hour. After all, raising Lazarus from the dead - exciting and joyful as that may have been-was only a temporary proposition. Lazarus would just have to die again in a few years. ...

Lazarus Saturday in Church

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (March 28)

Bible Readings For The Saturday before Hosanna (Lazarus' Saturday)
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_Lazarus-Saturday.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (March 28)

Sermons For The Saturday before Hosanna (Lazarus' Saturday)
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Lazarus-Saturday.htm

4. Malankara World Passion Week Supplement

Malankara World has a supplement that provides detailed information about Passion Week including articles, prayers, sermons, etc. You will find it here:

Passion Week Supplement in Malankara World
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lent/Passion/Default.htm

Malankara World has developed a daily plan of bible readings, meditations, reflections, and prayers for Passion Week. You will find it here:

Today in Passion Week
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lent/Passion/Passion_Today_archives.htm

Sermons and Bible Readings for Passion Week
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-for-Passion-week.htm

Features

5. Saturday of the Raising of Lazar

Article in Malayalam.

6. Lazarus

Lazarus and his two sisters lived in a town called Bethany a couple of miles outside Jerusalem and according to the Gospel of John were among the best friends Jesus had. He used to drop in on them whenever he was in the neighborhood, and when he made his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, it was from Bethany that he took off, and it was also to Bethany that he went back to take it easy for a few days before his final arrest. ...

7. Lazarus: Jesus Bursting into Tears

There are four primary characters in this story: Jesus, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Martha, Mary and Lazarus were good friends of Jesus; the Bible says that he "loved" them. They were the kind of good friends that you could drop over to their house, kick up your feet and just relax with, and Jesus seemed to visit their home often. They were intimate and familiar friends with Jesus. ...

Some Christians will say, "Oh, you shouldn't feel that way if you believe in God and believe in the resurrection. Our loved one is going to a better place, to be with Jesus where there is no pain, so don't cry so hard or feel so badly." Well, that isn't the way it was with Jesus. He believed in the resurrection, in eternal life, in the heavenly mansion, but he also shuddered with sadness at the loss of his friend. In other words, Jesus was not only the Son of God, but also the son of man, fully human, sharing our grief and our sorrow. He was the model of godly grief, fully human, fully sorrowful. He even taught, "Blessed are those who mourn, who grieve, for they shall be comforted." ....

8. Jesus Wept - The Journey with Jesus

Part of Christian maturity involves learning to wait. We ought to be confident not so much about our chances for a rosy outcome, or about exactly where, when and how God will act, but confident that He will act. We wait in hope even while we "cry out of the depths" to God. ...

Winter will not last forever; spring will come. Lenten darkness, repentance and sorrow have their rightful place with us, but Easter resurrection is our destiny. However painful our current circumstances, and however agonizing our honest questions - about job loss, wayward children, financial disaster, chronic sickness - ultimately things will get worse, for nothing can compare to the horrible specter of death that awaits us all. But Christian faith believes that God in Christ will conquer and transform even that ultimate enemy death. For the time being, we confidently "cast every anxiety upon him, because he cares for us" (1 Peter 5:7).

9. I am the Resurrection and the Life - What Does That Mean?

When Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life," He was claiming to be the source of both. There is no resurrection apart from Christ, and there is no eternal life apart from Christ. Beyond that, Jesus was also making a statement concerning His divine nature. He does more than give life; He is life, and therefore death has no ultimate power over Him. Jesus confers this spiritual life on those who believe in Him, so that they share His triumph over death (1 John 5:11-12). Believers in Jesus Christ will experience resurrection because, having the life Jesus gives, it is impossible for death to defeat them (1 Corinthians 15:53-57). ...

10. Learn More About The 'I am Statements of Jesus'

Malankara World Journal Two Centum Mega Special Issue goes in more details about the 'I am Statements of Jesus.'

You can read it here:

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_200.htm

"I am God..." - I am Statements of Jesus

 I am the Resurrection and the Life

11. About Malankara World

Foreword

Passion Week Calendar - 2015

Mar 28 - Lazarus Saturday - Forty first Day of the Great Lent - Raising of Lazarus

Mar 29 - Palm Sunday - Hosanna - Triumphal Entry of Jesus to Jerusalem as a King

Apr 2 - Monty Thursday - Pes'ho - Establishment of Eucharist, Washing the Feet of Disciples, New Commandment: Love one another.

Apr 3 - Good Friday - Passion of Jesus Christ

Apr 4 - Gospel Saturday - Jesus proclaiming the Gospel to those in Hades

Apr 5 - Easter - Kymtho - Resurrection. Mission of Jesus accomplished.

This is a fast moving week with spiritual and liturgical significance.

Today's sign by Jesus, viz., raising of Lazarus is very unique. Yes, Jesus has raised others before, like the only son of the widow, the servant of the centurion, etc. But what is unique here is that this gives us a unique glimpse into the human and divine natures of Jesus. Jesus "cried" with others, showing his "human" nature; but then he raises Lazarus, showing His "divine" nature. So, the people who were assembled in Bethany that day had a great experience. The raising of Lazarus paved the way to the crucifixion of Jesus; the church leaders felt threatened by the show of power of Jesus and were really afraid to have him preach in the temple.

I wish to share a unique perspective into the raising of Lazarus by Dr. Greg Laurie, excerpted from his book, "Every Day with Jesus":

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
- John 11:25-26

Jesus was saying to His grieving friend, "Martha, listen to Me. Death is not the end! You're acting as though it is over with. It is not over with." And at this point, I think He was speaking of something greater and more profound than the resurrection of Lazarus, which He would accomplish within that very hour. After all, raising Lazarus from the dead - exciting and joyful as that may have been-was only a temporary proposition. Lazarus would just have to die again in a few years.

I think the bigger message was this: "Death is not the end. This is temporary. One day I will get rid of death altogether, and whoever believes in Me will live forever."

Jesus wept at the death of His friend and at the sorrow of Lazarus's two grieving sisters. But the death of His friend also brought Him anger.

John 11:33 tells us, "Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled."

The Greek word used for troubled here could be translated "angry." Why was Jesus angry? Was He angry with Mary and Martha for not believing? I don't think so. I think Jesus was angry at death itself because this was never God's plan. God's plan was to have us live forever. God's plan was that these bodies would never age or wear out or experience sickness or limitations.

So He was angry over that, and He wept. But these weren't tears of frustration. God is never frustrated. Jesus was angry and then did something about it that had been planned from eternity past. He gave up His life on a Roman cross, dying for the sins of the world, and then He rose again from the dead. The Bible says He has become the "firstfruits" of those who sleep, which means that He went before us.

And because He went before us into death and came out victorious on the other side, those of us who now live and will face death someday can be confident and unafraid.

What a savior we have in Jesus!

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

Lazarus Saturday in Church
Bible Readings for Lazarus Saturday (March 28)
Sermons for Lazarus Saturday (March 28)

Malankara World Passion Week Supplement

Malankara World has a supplement that provides detailed information about Passion Week including articles, prayers, sermons, etc. You will find it here:

Passion Week Supplement in Malankara World

Malankara World has developed a daily plan of bible readings, meditations, reflections, and prayers for Passion Week. Please click on the link below for the day to read the reflection for that day.

Sermons and Bible Readings for Passion Week

Malankara World Journal Specials on Lazarus Saturday:

Volume 4 No 209: April 9, 2014
Theme: Lazarus Saturday

Volume 3 No 131: Mar 18 2013
40th Friday and Lazarus Saturday

Features

Saturday of the Raising of Lazar
Lazarus

by Frederick Buechner, Peculiar Treasures

Gospel: John 11:1-44

Lazarus and his two sisters lived in a town called Bethany a couple of miles outside Jerusalem and according to the Gospel of John were among the best friends Jesus had. He used to drop in on them whenever he was in the neighborhood, and when he made his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, it was from Bethany that he took off, and it was also to Bethany that he went back to take it easy for a few days before his final arrest.

When Lazarus died, Jesus didn't arrive on the scene until several days afterward, but he found the sisters still so broken up they hardly knew what they were saying. With one breath they reproached him for not having come in time to save their brother and with the next they told him they knew he could save him still. Then, for the first and only time such a thing is recorded of him in the New Testament, Jesus broke down himself. Then he went out to where his friend's body lay and brought him back to life again.

Recent interviews with people who have been resuscitated after being pronounced clinically dead reveal that, after the glimpse they evidently all of them get of a figure of light waiting for them on the other side, they are very reluctant to be brought back again to this one. On the other hand, when Lazarus opened his eyes to see the figure of Jesus standing there in the daylight beside him, he couldn't for the life of him tell which side he was on.

Lazarus: Jesus Bursting into Tears

by Edward F. Markquart, Seattle, Washington

Gospel: John 11:1-45

It is really tough when your best friend dies. When your good buddy dies. When your best friend dies too soon. Cancer. Heart attack. Car accident. Many of you have lost your best friend and it has left you devastated. We all know those stories. We may have lived that story when a close friend of our dies.

I have permission of the family to share the following comments. I remember when my good buddy Ray Osterloh died so many years ago. It seems like yesterday. Up there at Providence Hospital. There on the third floor. For so long. For so many weeks. With so many people coming to visit him. With his wife, Jan and two young sons, I watched Ray wither away and die. It was painful for him. It was painful for his family. And it was painful for all of us who knew and loved Ray. I remember his last words to me, "Make sure you tell them Ed." I responded, "Tell them about what Ray?" He said, "Jesus." Wow, how do you forget that? How do you forget that man? How do you forget that friendship?" It was a tough funeral too. The feelings ran deep for all of us. Yes, there wasn't a lot of sniffling that day but some deep sobs of remembrance and regret.

The gospel story for today is that kind of story. Jesus' best friend or one of his best friends had died. The feelings were running deep.

There are four primary characters in this story: Jesus, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Martha, Mary and Lazarus were good friends of Jesus; the Bible says that he "loved" them. They were the kind of good friends that you could drop over to their house, kick up your feet and just relax with, and Jesus seemed to visit their home often. They were intimate and familiar friends with Jesus.

We know the Martha and Mary story. Jesus came to visit their home one day and Martha, the home owner and perhaps the oldest sister, was very busy. She was scurrying about, getting the meal ready for Jesus while Mary sat relaxed at Jesus' feet, wanting to listen to him teach. Martha reprimanded her younger sister for not helping her with the food preparation. Jesus suggested that quiet Mary had chosen the better part, and scolded busy Martha for being too busy being busy. So we pick up on the dynamics of their relationship, an honesty, a repartee. Then there is the other story where Jesus was again visiting their home, and in this story, sensitive Mary anoints Jesus' feet with oil and then dries his feet with her long hair with loving and gentle kindness. The Bible says that she was preparing him for his burial. So we are aware of these stories about busy Martha and tender Mary, both dear friends of Jesus.

Lazarus, the sister's brother, was also Jesus' close friend, the only close friend that is reported in the Bible, other than with John. The Bible says that Jesus "loved" Lazarus. Jesus was about thirty years old, and my guess is that Lazarus was about his age. In other words, for me this is a story of having one of your closest buddies die, like when my good friend, Ray Osterloh, died of cancer while a very young man. I know and you know what it feels like to have a close buddy, a close friend die, and the story of Lazarus' death is like that.

The funeral rituals of Jesus' day were obviously different than ours. When somebody died, there was no embalming but immediately the body was wrapped in linen clothing and put into the burial vault, a limestone cave carved into the limestone rock. There was intense mourning for seven days and less intense mourning for twenty-three more days. But the first seven days were days of intense grief and crying.

Now, here is the story for today. It's a classic story, with classic drama. Lazarus was really sick and the two sisters sent word to Jesus, who had just healed a man born blind, that their brother Lazarus was very sick and perhaps soon to die. Jesus got the message and waited two days. Why did Jesus wait two days? All the commentaries argue as to why Jesus waited two days, but none agree. The Bible says simply so that the will of God may be done. So Jesus began his way to the home of Lazarus, knowing that his friend had died.

On the way, assertive, aggressive, "take charge" Martha came out to meet Jesus and gave him an angry earful. "Jesus, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died."

 Jesus said: "He will rise again."

And Martha testily responded: "I know he will rise again at the resurrection of the dead, but what good does that do us now?"

Then Jesus gave a word that has become one of the most treasured teachings of Jesus,

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die!"

Will never die! It is one of the great lines of the Bible.

Then he asked one of the most important questions found in the Bible,

"Do you believe this, Martha?"

What a question. Do you believe this? Do YOU believe this? That whoever lives and believes in me will never die?

Martha answered, "I believe. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God and that whoever lives and believes in you will never die."

That is an incredible conversation, and we could stop here but the story continues.

Martha went back home to find her younger sister and told her that Jesus wanted to talk with her. Mary left immediately, surrounded by her grieving friends, to find Jesus. She too approached Jesus with the same testy reproach,

"Jesus, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died."

But before Jesus could say anything, Mary burst into tears and so did all her grieving friends.

What was Jesus' response to her tears? The Bible says that he was "deeply troubled," but the Greek word underlying this says that Jesus "shuddered with sadness," that his body shook with emotion. The word in classical Greek is used to refer to a horse, when it snorts, the horse's whole body shakes, and so Jesus' whole body shook or shuddered with emotion.

You and I have experienced this often in life, where a person is so grieved and sad, that their whole body shakes with sorrow.

Then came that classic line, the shortest verse in the Bible. "Jesus wept."

In our antiseptic way, we imagine a single tear running down his face. Rather, the Greek suggests, Jesus "burst into tears." So here, in this little episode with sensitive Mary, there is no classic, eloquent teaching about eternal life. In fact, there are no words at all, but simply strong emotions and bursting tears that shake his body.

Within that Greek word for "shudders with sadness," there is a connotation of anger, that Jesus was angry about something, and the scholars in the commentaries ponder what Jesus was angry about. I know what Jesus was angry about: he was angry that Lazarus died too soon, too young, that it hurt inside. I knew those feelings of anger when my good friend, Ray, died too young and too soon. I was mad, really mad inside. You know those feelings from your experiences as well.

The story continued. Jesus finally reached the little village of Bethany and then approached the burial vault of his friend Lazarus. The Bible says that he was again "deeply moved" as he approached the grave. His body again shuddered with sadness. Yes, a person often feels that way as you approach the grave itself. It is a time of intense emotion.

He said, "Remove the stone."

And Martha, as always, having her own mind, contradicted Jesus and said, "Why? The body has been in the grave for four days already and it smells."

Jesus ignored her and the gravestone was rolled away. Then Jesus said a beautiful prayer:

 "My Father, you hear my prayers. You always hear my prayers. Grant my request so that these people may know that you have sent me." Jesus cried out with a loud voice: "Lazarus, arise."

Lazarus came out of the grave vault, covered with linen wrappings. Jesus said, "Unbind him and let him go."

What a story! It was said of the Messiah, 'You will know that the Messiah has come when the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news preached to them.'

In the Gospel of John, this is the seventh and final and most important sign that the Messiah has come, for he has raised the dead. Jesus has raised his friend Lazarus from the dead who had been in the grave for four days.

So what shall we say about this story?

I first want to focus on the phrase, "shuddered with sadness." We all know that experience. It is part of your life and mine. I have been with many of you at these sacred moments, where the pain is so great, that all your body and emotions can do is shudder with sadness. Or I recall leaving the home of young Peggy Arns after she had just died, leaving her two teenagers and a loving husband, driving around the corner and stopping the car and just sobbing into the steering wheel. Yes, that is the way it is for us. And for Jesus, the Son of God, too.

Some Christians will say, "Oh, you shouldn't feel that way if you believe in God and believe in the resurrection. Our loved one is going to a better place, to be with Jesus where there is no pain, so don't cry so hard or feel so badly." Well, that isn't the way it was with Jesus. He believed in the resurrection, in eternal life, in the heavenly mansion, but he also shuttered with sadness at the loss of his friend. In other words, Jesus was not only the Son of God, but also the son of man, fully human, sharing our grief and our sorrow. He was the model of godly grief, fully human, fully sorrowful. He even taught, "Blessed are those who mourn, who grieve, for they shall be comforted."

I like that phrase in the story, "See how he loved him. See how Jesus loved Lazarus." That is the way with us in our relationships. See how we loved that person who has died. Whether that person is a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a child, a friend. When feelings run deep, you can see how the grieving person so deeply loved the deceased.

Recently, my good friend Bob died. It was tough. My age. A few years older. Cancer. Sudden death. Much too fast. Bob wanted to die at his condominium with his family. I would go up to their condo, when the whole family was there, gathered around the hospice bed in the living room, telling stories and laughing with Bob. You could see the love in the eyes and feel the love in their voices. "See how they loved him" As a pastor, I see it all the time. I see how they loved him. I see how they loved her.

Yes, feelings were running deep that day.

Another thing that catches me in this story is that Mary was accompanied by her grieving friends who grieved with her. There is something supportive and therapeutic about having friends around you who love you to grieve with you. For example, this past week when Steve Beer's mother died, their family and friends gathered around them to give them incredible support. I have been with people when it has been just the opposite; when they grieve alone with no one around and there is a hollow echo to it all. Or when the aunt of Tim Madsen died this past week; they had taken in their aunt to live with them three years ago; and now with the help of hospice, she had died. What comfort Tim and his family had when friends came to be with them.

That is what the church often is: a community of Christ's compassion and consolation to one another. In our busy and active culture, we often don't have time to live deeply with our feelings. In our hurried up plastic world, we often don't have time to share deep love or deep sorrow. In our shallow materialistic world, we attempt to minimize death. But not in the church. We know love; we know grief; and we share it with one another.

I remember my cousin Lois' funeral, coming back from Lake Oswego, Oregon, where she died as a young woman. I was so proud to be part of the church. I was proud of her priest who had visited her so faithfully, giving her the Sacrament. I was so proud of her friends, nurses, reading teachers, who so faithfully were with Lois. I was so proud of her congregation that rallied around her whole family. Yes, I saw the church at its best when they supported Lois and her family through her death. And that same kind of community was part of the story for today, with those friends of Mary gathering around her. Yes, that is what the church is for.

The last thing I want to talk with you about is the classic line from John:

"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever lives and believes in me will never die but live forever. Do you believe this, Martha?"

I have been giving funerals now for three decades, and I have never done a funeral without quoting this famous passage from the Gospel of John. In the funeral reading of resurrection passages, I always include these words from John. I know these words well, deeply within my heart. I get to that line, "Do you believe this, Martha?" I then pause, and say the name of the person whose funeral it is: And Jan said. And David said. "I believe. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, and that whoever lives and believes in you will never die." In the funerals, it is a moment of triumph, that the deceased believes in Jesus Christ and will never die.

And I ask you that question this morning, the most important question in your life. "________, do you believe? Do you believe that Christ is the Son of the living God and that whoever lives and believes in him will never die? Do you believe? Do you really believe?" What a question for you and me this morning. And how we answer that question affects everything we say and do.

Do you believe that you will never die?

It is my prayer that God will give you that quality of faith that was in the heart of busy Martha. Yes Lord, I believe that I will never die.

Amen.

Jesus Wept - The Journey with Jesus

by Dan Clendenin

Gospel: John 11:145

In an ancient Semitic version of the Paris catacombs, the prophet Ezekiel envisioned the nation of Israel as a wasteland of bones scattered across a desert valley (Ezekiel 37). Lifeless, windswept, and eery, the "great many bones that were very dry" symbolized Israel's exile to pagan Babylon: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off'" (37:11). In short, Israel felt hopeless.

Helpless and hopeless is exactly how Mary and Martha felt when their brother Lazarus died (John 11). And a nagging question added insult to their injury. The sisters, their family, and their neighbors were so flummoxed by the question that John repeats it three times in his story. It's the sort of question an ancient Hebrew who had been exiled to Babylon would have asked the priest and prophet Ezekiel: "Can these lifeless bones live again?" It's a question that we all ask even today.

Couldn't God have prevented this tragedy in the first place?

Couldn't God have saved Israel from Babylon? Or healed Lazarus of his sickness like he healed so many other people?

When her brother Lazarus took sick, Mary asked Jesus for help. But Jesus purposely delayed intervening, so by the time they finally arrived back home in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and buried for at least four days. "Lord," Martha cried, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21). Mary her sister said the exact same thing: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:32). Amidst all the grief and tears, the neighbors mumbled their own aside: "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" (John 11:37). Could he not have prevented all this horrible pain and heartache?

Jesus didn't answer their question. Instead, in the shortest verse in the entire Bible, He revealed one of the most important characteristics we can ever learn about the heart of God: "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). When Jesus experienced the sisters Mary and Martha weeping for their dead brother Lazarus, and their distraught neighbors, John writes that he was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (John 11:33). The God whom Christians worship is not a remote and aloof "sky god" somewhere way out there. No, He's a tender God who is deeply moved, even grieved, by anything and everything that threatens our human well-being.

This compassionate and empathetic nature of God is the reason why the Scriptures encourage us to bring to Him every anguish, confusion, anger, perplexity, and anxiety. When my friend Luke lost a second child in a car accident, I remember at the memorial service how he resonated with the Hebrew Scriptures where the saints threw dust in the air and cried out in pain. Stoicism is not a Christian virtue. Like Mary, Martha, and their neighbors, the Psalmist for this week demonstrates this sort of visceral scream to God (Psalm 130:12):

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

We can pray to God like this because we know that He weeps when we weep. We place our hope in Him because, as the Psalmist continues, He is a God of "unfailing love" and "full redemption" (Psalm 130:7).

God doesn't only empathize with our many pains and sorrows. He also acts. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha, and then he raised Lazarus from the dead (his last miracle before his own death and resurrection). Of course, human experience tells us that God doesn't act exactly when, where, and how we think He should act. So we must wait in hope. The Psalmist cries out to God with full confidence in His compassionate love, but even so, his poem repeats five times, perhaps talking to himself, that he must "wait" like a sentinel on the night shift who waits for the sun to rise (Psalm 130:56).

Part of Christian maturity involves learning to wait. We ought to be confident not so much about our chances for a rosy outcome, or about exactly where, when and how God will act, but confident that He will act. We wait in hope even while we "cry out of the depths" to God. The alternative is to lose hope and to spiral into despair, which was the chronic temptation for Ezekiel and the exiles: "Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off" (Ezekiel 37:11). However tempting, however human, however understandable, hopeless despair is not a Christian place to live.

Winter will not last forever; spring will come. Lenten darkness, repentance and sorrow have their rightful place with us, but Easter resurrection is our destiny. However painful our current circumstances, and however agonizing our honest questions - about job loss, wayward children, financial disaster, chronic sickness - ultimately things will get worse, for nothing can compare to the horrible specter of death that awaits us all. But Christian faith believes that God in Christ will conquer and transform even that ultimate enemy death. For the time being, we confidently "cast every anxiety upon him, because he cares for us" (1 Peter 5:7).

For further reflection:

* Meditate: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).

* Consider that Jesus "destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:10).

Copyright 2001-2014 by Daniel B. Clendenin. All Rights Reserved.
Journey with Jesus Foundation, 2008.

I am the Resurrection and the Life
Question: "What did Jesus mean when He said 'I am the Resurrection and the Life' (John 11:25)?"

Answer:

"I am the Resurrection and the Life" (John 11:25) is the fifth of the seven "I am" statements of Jesus.

Lazarus was dead. Earlier, Jesus had heard that His good friend was sick, but instead of going to visit Lazarus, Jesus "stayed where he was for two more days" (John 11:6). He explained to His puzzled disciples that the sickness was "for God's glory, that God's Son may be glorified through it" (v. 4). After Lazarus died, Jesus began a journey to Bethany, Lazarus's home. Significantly, when Jesus informed His disciples that Lazarus was dead, He simply said His friend was "asleep, but I am going there to wake him up" (John 11:11).

Outside Bethany, Lazarus's sister Martha went out to meet Jesus. "If you had been here," she said, "my brother would not have died." Such was her faith in Jesus' power to heal. Jesus replied by assuring Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha responded again in faith: "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." At this point, Jesus makes His fifth "I Am" statement in John's gospel, "I am the resurrection and the life," and He follows it with a call to faith: "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:21-24).

When Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life," He was claiming to be the source of both. There is no resurrection apart from Christ, and there is no eternal life apart from Christ. Beyond that, Jesus was also making a statement concerning His divine nature. He does more than give life; He is life, and therefore death has no ultimate power over Him. Jesus confers this spiritual life on those who believe in Him, so that they share His triumph over death (1 John 5:11-12). Believers in Jesus Christ will experience resurrection because, having the life Jesus gives, it is impossible for death to defeat them (1 Corinthians 15:53-57).

The grieving Martha wished that Jesus had arrived earlier so He could have healed her brother. And when Jesus spoke of resurrection, Martha assumed He was speaking of "the resurrection at the last day." In both statements, Martha reveals that she considered Time an insurmountable obstacle. In effect, Martha was saying, "It's too late to help Lazarus (the time is past), so now we must wait (allow more time)."

Jesus shows that neither Death nor time is an obstacle to Him. Outside the tomb, "Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' The dead man came out" (John 11:43). It's one thing to claim to be the resurrection and the life, but Jesus proved it by raising Lazarus, who was four days dead. Truly, with Christ, death is but "sleep" (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Death has no dominion over Him who is Life itself, nor does death have dominion over those who are in Him (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Because He lives, we live. Because He is Life, we have life eternally.

Jesus' statement that He is the resurrection and the life provides a godly perspective on several spiritual matters. Martha believed that the resurrection is an event; Jesus showed her (and us) that the resurrection is a Person. Martha's knowledge of eternal life was an abstract idea; Jesus proved that knowledge of eternal life is a personal relationship. Martha thought victory over death was a future expectation; Jesus corrects her, showing that victory is a present reality.

After presenting Himself as the resurrection and the life, Jesus asks Martha an all-important question: "Do you believe this?" (John 11:26). May Martha's answer be ours as well: "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world" (verse 27).

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Learn More About The 'I am Statements of Jesus'
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"I am God..." - I am Statements of Jesus

 I am the Resurrection and the Life

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