LENT 2020 - Jesus Said: I Am The Resurrection and The Life
Wednesday, March 11 2020
“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.”
Jesus made this claim in the context of the death of one of His best friends, Lazarus.
It must have been shortly before Holy Week, in the year that Jesus was crucified: before Mary of Bethany’s meaningful anointing of His feet - before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem - before all the other events that happened during that most sacred of Passover weeks in the Jewish calendar…
Jesus had a family of special friends who lived in Bethany, a village just 2 1/2 kilometers from Jerusalem, on the south-eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. They were two sisters, Martha and Mary, and a brother, Lazarus. Jesus loved them dearly and deeply, and often spent time with them when He wanted to rest and just be with friends.
He was on the other side of the Jordan River, where John the Baptist had been baptizing in the early days, when the news arrived that His friend Lazarus was sick. Mary and her sister sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, he whom You love is ill.” But, strangely enough, although He loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, and although He heard that his friend was sick, He did not go running to them. Instead He declared: “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” - and then He stayed two days longer in the place where He was.
And during those two days, Lazarus died.
I can only imagine Martha and Mary’s confusion, sadness, grief… Jesus could have come earlier, and healed their brother’s sickness - but He didn’t. He had said that Lazarus’ illness would not lead to death - but it did. No wonder both Martha and Mary, when Jesus finally arrived in Bethany four days after Lazarus’ death, regretfully said to Him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” No wonder the Jews that were accompanying them in their loss, said to one another: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
And yet Jesus simply said to everyone: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” And again: “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” And directly to Martha He declared: “Your brother will rise again.”
But no one really understood. Like Martha, they all thought Lazarus would rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Because at that point in time, he had been dead for four days already, and the tomb had filled with a stench as his lifeless body was decaying. No one thought that Jesus could resurrect and revive a decomposing body such as that!
It was then that Jesus confronted Martha with the most astounding and extraordinary words:
“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.
He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.
Do you believe this?”
A short while later, standing in front of Lazarus’ tomb - a cave with a stone laid across the entrance - deeply moved in spirit and weeping Himself, Jesus ordered the stone to be taken away, and prayed: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.”
In a loud voice, he called: “Lazarus, come out!”
And the four-days-old decaying dead man was resurrected and restored to new life! Just like that!
Because Jesus Himself IS resurrection and IS life. He need only speak the words, and what is dead is revived, and what is lifeless comes to life. He has the power to conquer physical death, and raise deceased bodies to new life. But He also conquers spiritual death, that is our separation from God in this life and the next, and offers eternal life to those who believe in Him.
Jesus can claim to be THE RESURRECTION and THE LIFE, because only He can voluntarily lay down His own life in death - and then have the authority to take it up again, that is to rise from the dead, with the divine power of life that has conquered death.
“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14)
“… our Savior, Christ Jesus… has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”. (2 Timothy 1:10)
“I am the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Revelation 1:18)
Dear friend: are there areas of your life that are dead? decaying? feeling like dry bones? Read these words and believe that the Spirit of Jesus can resurrect them and bring them to new life!
“These [dry] bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’… ’This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them… Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live…” (Ezekiel 37:11-14)
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
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