Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- John 11:25-26
It is football season again. People are excited, and geared up to follow their teams. Ricardo Lockette was a football player who rose up the ranks of pro football and eventually helped the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl in 2014. But on November 1, 2015, the wide receiver and special teams player, was blindsided with a vicious hit and was left sprawled on the ground in front of 90,000 fans. A year after the hit that nearly broke his neck and took his life, Lockette reflected:
It’s crazy what matters to you when you’re in that situation. Cars, jewelry, big houses, Super Bowls? It all seems so meaningless. I came up from nothing. Undrafted, practice squad, released a bunch of times, then I made it to three Super Bowls in a row. I have a saying, kind of like a mantra, “A hundred dollars and a dream.” I used to want a black Lamborghini and a seven-room house. That’s what I dreamed about. Now, all of a sudden, I can’t move. And the only thing that mattered to me in the entire world was being able to see my family again, to hold my kids in my arms. After surgery to repair my damaged vertebrae and a few weeks of serious rehabilitation, I was walking around just fine and we were playing basketball again. But a few months later, in early May, I made the decision to retire from football at age 29.
[My head coach Pete] Carroll used to preach to us all the time: “You live in a temporary fairy tale.” Your fans are temporary. Your coaches are temporary. Your teammates, as much as they love you, are temporary. The big houses you live in are temporary. You can enjoy all that stuff, but it’s not what will bring you happiness. When I was laying motionless on that turf in Dallas, I was completely dependent upon the help of others. It was the exact opposite of the mindset I had from the moment I got to Seahawks camp as a rookie: You’re a rock star. You’re a leader. You’re the alpha. This is all yours for the taking. Then, in one second, you’re helpless.
Adapted from Ricardo Lockette, “Am I About to Die?” The Player’s Tribune (7-5-16)
John’s Gospel reminds us what really matters.
John 20:31 But these are written so that you may believe Jesus it the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.
Jesus referred to Himself as “I Am”.
I am the bread of life. (John 6:35)
I am the light of the world. (John 8:12)
I am the door. (John 10:9)
I am the Good Shepherd. (John 10:11)
I am the true vine. (John 15:1)
I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25-26)
I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)
After Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd, the Jews again came after Him to stone Him. Jesus referred to His good works, from the Father, but they accused Him of blasphemy, of making Himself God. Once again, He eluded their grasp. He went again across the Jordan River to where John the Baptist had been baptizing people, and many believed in Him there.
Word came that Lazarus was sick, in Bethany, about a day away. He was the brother of Mary and Martha, and the sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, and it was serious. When Jesus heard it, he said to His disciples, that the sickness was for the glory of God. Jesus intentionally stayed two more days where He was, and He told His disciples they were going to Judea again. Jesus told them, Lazarus had died, and He was glad He wasn’t there so they would believe.
When Jesus got to Bethany near Jerusalem, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Many had come to comfort Mary and Martha about their brother. When Jesus arrived, Martha went out to meet Him while Mary stayed in the house. Martha said if you had been here Lord, my brother would not have died. She showed faith in Jesus because she believed that whatever Jesus asked from the Father, the Father would give. Jesus plainly said to her- You brother will rise again. Martha didn’t get it. She thought Jesus was talking about the final resurrection.
Martha went back to her sister and told Mary Jesus was calling for her so she went out. She too said to Jesus, if you had been here, Lazarus would not have died. They were crying, there was grief. Jesus wept, He felt the pain of their sorrow and loss. He came to the tomb, a cave and there was a stone there that Jesus had them remove. Martha was concerned because Lazarus had been dead for four days and was already stinking. Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, v41 Father, I thank you that you heard Me. I know You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me.
Jesus said, Lazarus, come out! He came out bound hand and foot with linen strips they had used to bury Him. Jesus said to them “Loose him and let Him go!” Because of what Jesus did, many more believed in Him but some of them went to the Pharisees to tell what Jesus had done. They were threatened by Jesus. The plot to kill Jesus deepened.
What did Jesus mean when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life?” Jesus claims to be the One who will raise all who believe in Him from physical death to everlasting life.
First- The problem is death.
We don’t know what the sickness was that Lazarus had, but death invaded their family. This was the problem Mary and Martha were dealing with.
The creation account tells us there is something distinct about human beings apart from all of the rest of creation. We were created in the image of God, to have a relationship with God. Genesis 1:26 Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. We were made as rational, volitional beings, to relate to God, and reflect His glory.
God created us with a physical and spiritual nature. The physical is obvious- our body is apparent, and is temporary in nature in its current state. The spiritual is invisible- soul, spirit, conscience, will, and so forth, and is eternal in nature.
Because of sin, death came into the world as the consequence-
First is spiritual death- Anyone apart from Jesus is spiritually dead. The Bible describes it as being “alienated from the life of God” Ephesians 4:18. It represents separation from God. When Adam and Eve sinned, their fellowship with God was broken, because they were spiritually dead. Our sin, brings spiritual death, and separation of the soul from God.
In Genesis 2:17 God told Adam that if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die. Obviously, Adam and Eve did not die on the day they ate the fruit. But they immediately lost their spiritual life.
Second is physical death- Upon sinning, Adam and Eve began the process of physical death. We can draw an illustration of this from plant life. Last year, I planted some really nice Rhodendrons in our side yard. I took them out of the pots, prepared the soil, put them in the ground, and watered and cared for them. The problem was, with half of them, there was no connection to the soil, no root system, and they ended up dying physically.
Spiritually, when we are separated from God, we have no roots and it is evidenced ultimately by our physical death. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. The physical death that entered into the world because of sin, affected all living things. All living things actually began the process of dying when sin entered the world.
Of all the fears that grip the hearts of modern men and women, no fear is greater than the fear of death. When we face the prospect of our own death, we don’t know what to say or what to do. People say that nothing is certain but death and taxes. That is not quite correct. A person may find a way to avoid paying tax. He may simply not file a return – and at least for awhile he pays no tax at all. But you cannot avoid death or put it off. When your time is up, your time is up. This is a subject we’d rather not talk about.
Somebody mathematically compared life to the clock-
15 years old- 10:25 AM
25 years old- 12:42 PM
35 years old- 3:00 PM
45 years old- 5:16 PM
55 years old- 7:34 PM
65 years old- 9:55 PM
70 years old- 11:00 PM
55.3 million people die each year worldwide.
(Population Reference Bureau and The World Factbook)
About every ten seconds, on average about 26 people die. By extrapolating from various statistics, including death rates and world populations and religious affiliations, it is estimated that of these 26 recently deceased persons …
- Two were Buddhists
- Four were Hindus
- Six were Muslims
- Seven were Christians (of any type or commitment level)
- Seven were “Other,” including atheist, agnostic, and animist
19/26 have not been saved.
Paul Borthwick. Great Commission Great Compassion (IVP, 2016), page 39
This was the situation with Lazarus. He was dead, and his family was sorrowful.
Second- The power over death is the resurrection.
Jesus declared Himself to be the resurrection. The physical raising of Lazarus from the dead, was a demonstration of the power of Jesus over death, the certainty of His own resurrection, and the hope of ours.
Jesus demonstrated His power by raising people from the dead. He raised the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7), Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9, Mark 5, Luke 8) and Lazarus.
Jesus Himself was raised from the dead after His horrific death on the cross. (Matthew 28:1-6)
Jesus promised to raise all believers from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
The power over death that Jesus displayed, demonstrates He is who He claimed to be. He claimed to be God in the flesh, which is why the religious establishment wanted to kill Him.
Romans 1:4 Who was declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The power over death that Jesus displayed, was in fulfillment of biblical prophecy. In Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, he argued the resurrection was biblically necessary and referred to David’s words in Psalm 16:10 Because you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow your holy one to undergo decay. This was a reference to Jesus as Messiah, whom God would raise from the dead.
The power over death that Jesus displayed, demonstrated that the Creator of life could not be held by death.
Acts 2:24 God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.
The power over death that Jesus displayed, revealed that He had accomplished what He came to do.
Romans 5:9-10 Much more then, since we have not been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For it, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!
II Timothy 1:10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
We can face death with confidence.
A newspaper published a picture that was apparently meant to give readers a chuckle. It showed a street sign named Cemetery Road. Underneath was another sign that read Dead End. That picture captures the way most people think about death. They believe that Cemetery Road leads to a Dead End from which there is no escape.
If death is not the end …If Christ has been raised from the dead, all His promises can be trusted.
If Christ has been raised from the dead, He is alive today.
If Christ has been raised from the dead, He is with us now.
If Christ has raised from the dead, all things end well for those who follow Him.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In the end, Lazarus lived two lives. He may have lived an additional thirty years after Jesus brought him back from the dead. There comes a moment when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are dead in our sin, but He brings us to life—and not just life, for He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”.
Third- The promise for all believers is life.
Where there is resurrection, there is life. In the opening verses of John he wrote- John 1:4
Jesus said “I am the life.” He has the power to give eternal life.
Eternal life begins the instant a person comes to Jesus by faith. It belongs to us now.
John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life, instead the wrath of God remains on him.
John 5:24 I assure you, anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.
John 17:3 This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent- Jesus Christ.
Eternal life is about knowing God. It is about having an intimate, personal relationship with God. It involves knowing God in a progressive deepening of your relationship.
William Hendricksen- To know the Father and Jesus Christ (for He is the only way to the Father) refers not to merely abstract knowledge, but to joyful acknowledgment of his sovereignty, glad acceptance of his love, and intimate fellowship with His person (through Scripture, His Word to us, and through prayer, our word to Him).
Faith does not keep us from physical death, but we have the promise that when we die, in an instant we will be restored to life.
Wm Barclay- Through Jesus Christ we know that we are journeying, not to the sunset, but to the sunrise, we know that death is a gate on the sky-line. In the most real sense we are not on our way to death, but on our way to life.
The life that Jesus gives is perpetual- it goes on and on without end.
Comedian Jim Carrey at one of the Golden Globes awards ceremonies- Before announcing the nominees for Best Motion Picture in Comedy, he said to Hollywood’s elite:
I am two-time Golden Globe Winner, Jim Carrey. You know, when I go to sleep at night, I’m not just a guy going to sleep. I’m two-time Golden Globe winner, Jim Carrey, going to get some well-needed shut-eye. And when I dream, I don’t just dream any old dream. No sir. I dream about being three-time Golden Globe winning actor, Jim Carrey. Because then I would be enough. It would finally be true. And I could stop this terrible search for what I know ultimately won’t fulfill me.
The actors, dressed to perfection in designer gowns and tuxedos, doubled over in laughter. But as the camera panned their faces, it seemed that his words rang truer than any of Hollywood (or we) are comfortable admitting.
If a Golden Globe (or three) will not satisfy us, what will?
Charlotte Getz, “Jim Carrey and the Terrible Search for Fulfillment,” Mockingbird (February 15, 2016)
Only eternal life in Jesus can bring fulfillment and satisfaction.
Nothing is more important that having eternal life.
V26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die- ever.
Do you believe this?