The Resurrection and the Life

Preparing for the Passion  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:04
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What do you fear most?

We all have various fears. For some it’s a fear of speaking in public. For others a fear of conflict. There is the fear of new situations, fear of certain critters, even the fear of peanut butter.
Some fears are paralyzing and others are simply a nuisance.
Generally, most fears can be overcome.
But there is one thing that many people fear and something that everyone will face - death.
From a purely human standpoint, death is the end of the line.
Some people will go to great lengths to prolong life in order to avoid death - engaging in various medical treatments, seeking to take great care of their bodies.
Rick Edelman suggests that because of advancements in what he calls “exponential technologies” there are people alive today who will live to be 120 or even 150 years old.
We may think that we are able to delay death’s arrival, but death is a reality we all must face at some point.
For some of Jesus followers, his death felt like the end of their movement. His death meant the end of hope. But Jesus had given them clues and even insights into what would come.
Let me just catch us up on a bit of the timeline - because while we talk a lot about the crucifixion and resurrection, if you’re new to all of this then some of the details might get a bit jumbled. Scripture tells us that Jesus began ministering around the age of 30. Over the next 3 or so years he ministered in the areas that we now call Israel and Palestine - teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, performing miracles, gathering a following. His life and ministry became a threat to the religious leaders and so they looked for ways to kill him. He had twelve close followers called disciples or Apostles. On the day we call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to great fanfare - many people believed that he was special person that the Old Testament foretold. It seems some of them wanted Jesus to be the new political leader. Over the next couple of days, he continued to minister in and around Jerusalem and he spent some special time with his disciples. One of his disciples betrayed him and had him arrested. He was then tried and sentenced to death on a cross where on “Good Friday” he was crucified. On the following Sunday morning, a couple days later, Jesus rose from the grave - fully alive.
On the surface - that’s generally the summary of events - but there is so much more.
Today, as we consider the significance of the resurrection, we’re going to look at three brief sections of scripture in order to gain some insight into what Jesus was communicating to his followers, what it meant for them, and what it means for us.
First of all, a few weeks or months before his crucifixion, one of his followers, Lazarus, had died. In a conversation that Jesus had with Lazarus’ sister Martha, He seemed to be giving...

Hope in the hereafter (John 11:17-27)

John 11:17–20 ESV
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.
We considered this scene a few weeks ago, but I think it’s important for us to go back for just a moment to catch a glimpse of what Jesus said.
So now that Jesus is in Bethany, he and Martha begin to have an interchange.
John 11:21–22 ESV
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Martha clearly believes that Jesus had the ability to keep Lazarus from dying. She may not have been present, but she likely had heard about the other people that Jesus brought back from death’s door.
There is even a glimmer of hope that Martha has, believing that God might even allow Jesus to do something now.
Jesus responds:
John 11:23–24 ESV
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
The resurrection in the end of time was something that divided Jewish religious leaders. One group, the Pharisees, believed that there would be some sort of resurrection from the dead. Another group - the Sadduccees - (are sad you see - because they) don’t believe in the resurrection.
It appears that Martha believed that there would be a resurrection at the end of time. It certainly seems like this was a belief that was rooted in Jewish theology and eschatology - not in the burgeoning Christian belief in the resurrection.
She has this faith based hope in a future resurrection. To which Jesus replies:
John 11:25–27 ESV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Jesus says that he is the “resurrection” and the “life”. Look at what he does in the next couple of phrases. Many scholars believe that Jesus explains what he means by the “resurrection and the life.”
Look back in your bibles - it’s as though “whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live...” explains what he means by resurrection. Essentially, that those who die while believing in him will return to life - will be resurrected. This has been a great hope for Christians for centuries that there is more to this life than just what is happening. We don’t know when this will happen. But there is something about what we believe here and now has repercussions into eternity.
Jesus says that he is the life - suggesting that those who believe in him will never die - he seems to explain this with his statement “everyone who lives and believes shall never die.” Now, we all have known many believers who have died - so what does this mean? It seems like he is suggesting that those who are alive at the end and believe in him will live eternally.
So people who believe and die will be brought back to life - to live eternally. Believers who are still alive “on the last day” as Martha put it, will live eternally.
What is it that they must believe? John tells us that he has written his entire book toward the end that...
John 20:31 ESV
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John used a handful of signs along with Jesus teachings to explain that Jesus is the Christ.
Jesus then proves his point by bringing Lazarus back from the grave.
What hope that would be for Martha and all of Jesus immediate followers - he said there would be a resurrection and then brought this decaying man back to life.
Let’s jump forward a few weeks or months. It’s now Wednesday or Thursday of Passion week. Jesus has just finished having a meal with his disciples - the last supper. This was the same night that he washed their feet and shared with them about some things that would happen. They got up from the table and began walking to the mount of olives - just outside of Jerusalem. Let’s turn to John 16, beginning in verse 16.

Hope in the here and now (John 16:16-33)

Let’s look at the first verse in this section:
John 16:16 ESV
“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”
We have to remember that this is in the midst of a very long speech or discourse that Jesus is having with his disciples.
He drops this verbal bomb and confuses the disciples. They don’t quite understand what he’s getting at.
Jesus addresses their concerns:
John 16:19–24 ESV
Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
We have the benefit of looking back and seeing a clearer picture, but the disciples were just getting glimpses of what would happen. Jesus tell them that they will be sorrowful and the world would rejoice - I think this is essentially because Jesus would be dead. The betrayal of Judas that was in the works, the arrest that would happen in the garden a few hours later, the various trials that would ensue - would bring the disciples grief.
Their sorrow would reach a pinnacle at Jesus death on the cross. In Matthew’s gospel we learn that Jesus’ death was literally earth shaking - but it would rattle the disciples.
I think Jesus tells them what would happen in some veiled language in order to give them insight, but also hope. He knows he is going to die. There would be sorrow, but there will be joy as well. He will come back to life - eternally.
And when the joy comes - that joy will last.
A few verses later, Jesus says...
John 16:32–33 ESV
Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Their fear in the moment would lead them to run. Even in knowing that, Jesus does not give up on them. He does not give up on us.
Jesus seems to know that there will be challenges and trials for his followers. Life will not always be easy. There will be tribulation - to which Jesus replied “take heart, I have overcome the world.”
Let’s move forward to one final scene - the ultimate scene as we get to see

Hope confirmed - Jesus resurrected

John 20:1–10 ESV
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.
They witnessed an empty tomb. That could be explained by someone stealing the body, but in the very next set of verses, we get to see Jesus, alive again, talking to Mary in the garden by the tomb (John 20:11-18). Later that day, Jesus shows himself to his disciples.
He is really alive!
The sorrow of Friday turned into the joy of Sunday!
Jesus said he was the resurrection. Not only did he bring others back to life - but he brought himself back to life!
He did exactly what he said he would do. In fact, he did the one thing that no one else can do! He conquered death - overcame the world.

What does Jesus’ death and resurrection mean?

We can believe in him - he was true to his word. Throughout the gospels - we get to see him foretelling his death and resurrection - and he did it!
Forgiveness of sins - When we look purely at the events of the crucifixion - we could see this as a simple show - but it was more than that. You see, spiritually, Jesus’ death did more than just confirm that he is who he says he is. Sins require a sacrifice, a payment - when you sin against someone - true forgiveness often comes with some sort of payment or restitution. We may try to re-define sin or rationalize our actions in order to minimize what we’ve done, but rationalization is not forgiveness. In Jesus Christ, in his death - he took our sins on himself. He paid for us. He did nothing wrong, nothing deserving of death. He became the perfect substitute for us.
Relationship with God - we saw last week that He is the way - the only way to be reconciled to God is through faith in Jesus Christ
Purpose and meaning in this life - we get to live for the glory of God and the edification of others. As we put our faith in Him, we get to walk through this life with the confidence of knowing that our sins are no longer held against us. We get to proclaim the good news that Jesus - the one fully human, fully God - did what he said he would do - as we grow in our faith and understanding
Hope for eternity - because Jesus rose from the grave and then ascended - we saw last week that he has left us here with a job to do. But beyond that, He has given us hope for eternity - hope for the resurrection.
Jesus told Martha that he was the resurrection and the life. He told her Lazarus would live again. He brought Lazarus back to life.
Jesus told his disciples that he would die and come back to life - and he did.
He did what he said he would do - do you believe?
We have no reason to fear death - he has conquered death and taken our sin and the consequences of our sin with him.
Do you believe?
John 1:29 ESV
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
He is Risen - He is risen indeed!
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