7 I AM STATEMENTS OF CHRIST   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Alexander M. Sanders, Jr. (who was at one time the Chief Judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals) spoke to the graduating class of the University of South Carolina in 1992. His daughter, Zoey, was a member of that class. He told a story about when Zoe was 3 years old. Sanders came home to find a crisis. Zoey’s pet turtle had died, and she was crying her heart out. His wife turned the problem over to him to solve. First, Mr. Sanders explained that he would go to the pet store and get her another turtle. He got nowhere with that idea. Zoe knew that life couldn’t be transferred from one turtle to another. She wanted her turtle alive. She continued to cry. Then Mr. Sanders said, “I’ll tell you what, we’ll have a funeral for the turtle.” Being three years old she didn’t know what a funeral was. “A funeral,” he said, “is a great festival in honor of the turtle.” She didn’t know what a festival was, so he said, “A funeral is like a birthday party. We’ll have ice cream and cake and lemonade and balloons, and all the children in the neighborhood will come over to play, all because the turtle has died.” Zoey’s tears began to dry up and she returned to her happy self. Then, an utterly unforeseen thing happened! They looked down, and the turtle began to move. He was not dead after all. In a matter of seconds, he was crawling around as lively as ever. Mr. Sanders didn’t know what to say. But Zoey appraised the situation perfectly. With all the innocence of a three-year-old little girl, she looked up at her father and said, “Daddy… let’s kill it.”
We read this story this morning. And laugh at the perspective of little Zoey… and yet, there is also an underlying idea that is here. A key word that we could kind of take away. And that word is perception. You see, for a moment, this sweet little 3-year-old was upset, here perception of the situation was that here dearly beloved turtled had died… when her father came to her aid and encouraged her saying that there would be a party thrown, as most 3 years old would do… she quickly forgets about the turtle and shifts her attention to the party. (Her perception of the situation changes) Only to realize, that when the turtle moved again, and the party was not going to happen after all, that she had to do something to end the life of the turtle.
You see, if we think about it this morning. Our walk with Christ has a little bit of the similarities to Zoey’s perception of the turtle.
Here’s what I mean by that. We all go through life, each of us with our ups and downs. Each of us with our highs and lows. And as we navigate through life, the question becomes, it good seasons and in bad…who is Christ to us? Think about that question to yourself for just a moment… who is Christ to you?
You see, for a number of years. Many scholars, many theologist, many atheists even have wrestled with the idea of who is Jesus? To an atheist, he was perhaps a myth or a maybe a wise man who lived upon this earth. To some, he they would say that Christ created the earth, and then simply allowed us to remain in this earth to figure things out for ourselves. Yet to others, to a recovery addict, he is their rescuer, to an abandoned child, who never had a father, perhaps that child grows up and realizes that they have a loving heavenly father who cares about them. So much so, that this father would send his only son for their sins.
You see, this very question that is in view this morning, is the very question that Jesus would ask of his disciples in Matthew 16. We’re told 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it.
You see friends, over the next 7 weeks. Regardless of your current perspective of Christ. We together, will look at this idea of who do you say I am? And then together we will look at the 7 I am statements of Jesus, so whatever your perspective of Christ is, my prayer is that we would have an even deeper love and appreciation of the father as we go through this study together.
If you have your bibles with you, turn with me this morning to the book of John 11. The 7 I am statements are taken from John. This morning, we see that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. And from this scripture I want us to see that Jesus wants us to 1. Believe. 2. To see his love & compassion 3. To see his Power
1. Believe
If you’re not already in John chapter 11, turn with me there this morning. And as your turning there. You may recall that the book of John was written by john. It is of course one of the 4 gospels, but unlike the other 3 gospels which are considered the synoptics “which stems from the Greek word meaning “to see together” and they’re named this way because much of these 3 gospels are similar. But in the book of John, more than 90 percent of what we read is not found in the synoptics.
And this story that we read together this morning, involves his dear friend Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. And what we find, is that despite the love that Jesus has for Lazarus and his family, that here, a major problem is going on as Lazarus is sick. So sick in fact, that as we’ll see Lazarus would not only endure the pain and sorrow of the sickness, but he would end up dying as a result.
To that, we jump ahead to our sermon point this morning. All the while asking why would Jesus allow this to happen? And we see: 11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I want us to notice for a second that this event takes place towards the end of Jesus earthly ministry, not long before his death. And at this time, he was largely hated by many of the devote Jews. So much so, that by Jesus going out and making a public demonstration of his work. It could cost him his life. Knowing that this is the case, Thomas Speaks up in a moment of great faith and states, let us also go that we may die with him.
But If we go back to verses14 and 15. Jesus said: “14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
And in the Greek the word believe – is the word pisteuō, which means:
I.to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in
In Acts 16, we read about Paul and Silas as they are in prison, and we see this keyword: believe show up. We’re told:
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
So, we say, why did God allow this death to take place. Well ultimately, God wanted them to come to a saving faith in Jesus. That he was who he said he was. You see, each of us, in our own way, is a walking testimony of how God did a miracle in us, and from that day forward things haven’t been the same.
But in addition to salvation. God also wants us to believe that he’s working all things out for our God and his glory this morning.
Song by elevation worship entitled “do it again.” I've seen You move, you move the mountains And I believe I'll see You do it again You made a way, where there was no way And I believe I'll see You do it again. Your promise still stands Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness I'm still in Your hands This is my confidence You've never failed me yet. Oh, You've never failed me yet And I never will forget You've never failed me yet And I never will forget.
You see, by definition, to believe is to Accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of.
And what happens is as we believe something in here... (heart) it leads to what we do here… (feet) The question is where has life been taking you as of late?
2. Compassion / Love
We see that Jesus not only takes this event to help his followers believe Him, but he also uses it to show that his love and compassion.
John 11:17-36 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
As we read the scripture this morning, we hone in on really a sad, and moving scene in scripture. And here in this passage, we see that Jesus being God, knew that Lazarus would in fact die… Martha points out. In verse 21, “Lord,” “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”Another way that we might say this is God, why did you allow that to happen to me? Or, God, don’t you care? God, don’t you get it?
You see, Martha understood that Jesus had the power to prevent her brother from dying. And friends, although we know the scripture and how the story goes… we can be certain that it didn’t make the pain that Lazarus felt any less intense, the sickness that he experienced, and the ailment that he had was very real. And not only did Lazarus go through something, his sisters, who loved him so much, were by his bedside, and they too, we’re grieving, and hurting and moved.
But do you want to know who else was moved? Jesus.
You see, what’s interesting, is that during this time, according to the Jewish customs of the day. Even the poorest family was expected to hire a at least two flute players and a professional wailing woman. And Mary, Martha and Lazarus, being a prominent family would have had a number of hired “mourners” that are there wailing and crying out on behalf of the family.
The bible tells us in verse 33 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept.
Klaiō meaning to wail loudly.
dakryō which carries the connotation of silently bursting into tears. And here, unlike the typical funeral mourners. Jesus wept, not only because of the death of his friend Lazarus, and the pain that was felt by the family. But also, because in many ways, because of the effects of sin in a fallen world.
You see this morning… Death, and sickness, and pain are still. Very much a reality
You see, it’s the shortest verse in all of scripture, but friends. It may be one of the more impactful verses if we allow it to sink in. Verse 35 tells us plainly that Jesus Wept. So much so, that those who were there, the bible tells us in verse 36 “Then the Jews said, “see how he loved him!” You see, others could tell the type of love that Jesus had for Lazarus, and when Lazarus suffered, Jesus suffered with him.
You see, you may of heard this past week what took place for my little daughter Aubrey.
You see, in the middle of the night, to my surprise. I looked over to my side and noticed that Aubrey was lying in bed with Kim and I. Now Aubrey, and for hours, Aubrey would fall asleep, and then shortly after, wake up crying in pain and in agony…only for Kim to comfort her, and then in time, after exhausting she would fall back asleep for a short while. Only to wake up later with more pain and agony.
You see, after Aubrey, went to the hospital in Bellefontaine and later ended up at the Columbus Children’s hospital, it was determined that she had swallowed a button battery. But this little battery passed all the way from her esophagus, and down to her intestines. And when x rays were taken, low and behold. There was circular object, there in her stomach.
Now to make a long story short. On Thursday afternoon, Aubrey ended up drinking a solution to help her go to the bathroom, and fortunately she pooped that little battery out and surgery wasn’t required.
But here’s where I want us to go for a moment. That while she was going through this difficulty. She was in pain. She was in agony. She’s only 13 months old and all day Wednesday she couldn’t eat or drink. And Kim and I felt the same pain. As her mom and dad, we hurt for her. In fact, this battery could have killed her. And yet… God came through.
Her mom and I were in that room with her.
You see, here’s the point this morning. Many of you can relate with the idea of waiting for answers. Many of you can relate with pain that you’ve faced yourself, or worse yet, your children, or a loved one. And in this pain, and suffering, sometimes, all we can ask is “why?”
And yet, what I want us to see, is that when we go through the fire. That Jesus is standing there with us. And that he is loving, and compassionate. And that he cares about you. Even when life doesn’t make sense… Our father loves us.
3. Power
I want us to see something for a moment as we continue with scripture. Although for a moment, it seemed like to story was over… Jesus wasn’t done. The bible continues: 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Friends, in this moment. Jesus took what was dead and spoke life over it. By all accounts, Lazarus was a good as gone. In fact, at the time, the Jews believe that the soul hovered around the body for three days after death, hoping to reenter it. Lazarus has been dead for 4 days however, and his body has started to decompose… and so it seems like there was no hope… and yet… Jesus wasn’t done.
Seem like there’s no hope, and yet when it seems like all hope is lost, Jesus steps into the picture.
You see, if we look at scripture this morning. We see that when Lazarus came out… when he shook off his burial strips, when he took of his grave clothes and walked in freedom… it started because Jesus was speaking life over him.
Friends, Jesus spoke a word. And because of the power of God. It gave life.
You see, this morning. Jesus spoke life over Lazarus. Jesus called Lazarus, up on out of that Grave… Lazarus got out of the grave clothes, the old stench left, he went from dead to life, and he left where he was and went forward…. but listen, once Lazarus left that grave… he didn’t return. You see, of course, in the course of time, he would pass away. But listen, when Jesus called him up out of the grave, he didn’t stay around there any longer.
Earlier in John 10:10, Jesus Said: 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
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