************ Sermon on John 11:25-26 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on April 12, 1998

John 11:1-44
verses 25-26
"I Am the Resurrection and the Life"

Martha probably lost track of the number of times she heard it while she stood by the coffin and tomb of her brother Lazarus. Friend after friend stepped forward, hugged her and kissed her, and said, "Your brother will rise again." Now along comes Jesus and He says the same thing: "Your brother will rise again." Choking back a sob she says, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day." But that sure seems a long time away and doesn't give her much comfort for the here and now.

I Will Live and Never Die
A In response Jesus makes one of the seven "I am" statements recorded in the Gospel of John.
(Jn 11:25-26) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; (26) and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

Jesus says two things here. First of all, He makes a promise about the resurrection of the body: "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." Someday, says Jesus, the body will be raised and the person will be brought back to life.

Second, Jesus makes a statement about continued existence or life: "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Whoever believes in Jesus will live even though his or her body dies. In other words, the person who believes in Jesus keeps right on living, even after death. Here is a reminder that physical death is not the most important thing nor the worst thing nor even the final thing than can happen to any believer.

For the heathen or the unbeliever, death is the end. But not so for the person who believes in Christ. Such a person may die in the sense that he or she passes through the door we call physical death, but that person will not die in the fuller or deeper sense. Instead, even after physical death that person keeps right on living. The moment someone puts their trust and hope and faith in Jesus they begin to experience what we know as eternal life. This life cannot be touched by death.

Think of those believers who have died recently: Jeltje Dragt, Alice Gorter. The body of these believers may have died but they themselves are still alive and living and in the presence of Jesus.

B As far as Martha is concerned, this is something new, something wonderful, something she has never heard before.

Being taught from the Old Testament Scriptures, Martha believed that her brother Lazarus was in Sheol or Hades. Sheol and Hades are general words for the grave or the shadowy domain where the souls of dead people go without distinguishing between people who go to heaven and people who go to hell. If a loved one has died, she has gone to Sheol. The saints of old who have died have gone to Hades. Sheol and Hades do not say anything about bliss or punishment. They are merely other ways of saying "death" or "the realm of the dead."

Let me illustrate this. Do you remember what Jacob said when he thought Joseph was dead? He said, "in mourning will I go down to Sheol to my son" (Gen 37:35). Do you remember when David's son was taken by the Lord because of David's sin of adultery and murder against Uriah? David cried out, "I will go to him, but he will not return to me" (2 Sam 12:23). David thought of his baby son as being in Sheol.

I think too of the question that Job asked of his friends. "If a man dies, will he live again?" (Job 14:14). Job asked this after he has lost his cattle, his servants, his children. He asked this after his less than comforting friends insisted that he must have greatly sinned against God. "If a man dies, will he live again?"

When I studied the original Hebrew of this question I noticed that this is not what Job actually asked. He actually asked whether one who dies physically still lives. He wonders if life continues after death. He wonders if there is more to life than the present existence we have. Could it be that what we call death is only a change, a transition? If a person dies, is he still living?

Job's question was never answered by his friends. It was not answered until 2000 years later when Jesus spoke to Martha by the grave of her brother:
(Jn 11:25-26) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; (26) and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

C Old Testament believers, then, thought of the souls of the dead as going to Sheol or Hades. New Testament believers have been given far greater insight than this. In His parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus teaches that the dead are found in two entirely different places: the redeemed of the Lord are carried to the bosom of Abraham whereas the damned are in the torments of hell. David talked about going to Hades and finding his infant son. But Stephen, the disciple of Jesus, spoke of going to Jesus when he died. He said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59). Remember, too, the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross? Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk 23:43). And, with His last breath Jesus said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Lk 23:46). In line with all of this, we in the New Testament period know that the spirits of departing believers are alive and with God or with Christ the moment they die.

D We know that someday, unless Jesus returns with a blast and with a shout, we too will enter the domain of the dead. None of us has ever looked behind the dark curtain that has taken countless loved ones beyond our touch and view. So we have no real idea of what we will see or experience on the other side of the wall. Also, death is the final enemy of God's people (1 Cor 15:26). So, entering its shadowy domain is frightening for most people.

When fear of death attacks us, Jesus does to us what He once did to the Apostle John on Patmos: He places His right hand on us and says,
(Rev 1:17-18) "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. (18) I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."
"You must not worry about going into that place," He is saying. "I was there, and I came back. And I have the key. That place is in my power; that's why I have the key. I am alive, and you are mine. And I won't let you out of my sight, not even in Hades."
Topic: Death
Subtopic: Of the Righteous
Index: 2160

In his book The Best is Yet to Be, Henry Durbanville told the story of a man who lay dying and was fearful, even though he was a born-again Christian. He expressed his feelings to his Christian doctor. The physician was silent, not knowing what to say. Just then a whining and scratching was heard at the door. When the doctor opened it, in bounded his big, beautiful dog, who often went with him as he made house calls. The dog was glad to see his master. Sensing an opportunity to comfort his troubled patient, the doctor said, "My dog has never been in your room before, and he didn't know what it was like in here. But he knew I was here, and that was enough. In the same way, I'm looking forward to heaven. I don't know much about it, but I know my Savior is there. And that's all I need to know!"

Believers, then, will live and never die. Forever and ever, beginning right now, beginning the moment they are born again, they live with Jesus. "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

II I Am the Resurrection and the Life
A On this Easter Sunday I want you to take note of Jesus' basis for saying this. This is where the first part of our text becomes important. Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life."

I mentioned earlier that this is one of the seven "I am" statements made by Jesus that John records in his gospel. Each of the seven statements brings forth an important aspect of the person and ministry of Jesus. Think of how much each of the statements have added to our understanding of Jesus:
I am the bread of life (6:35,48; cf 6:41,51)
I am the light of the world (8:12)
I am the door (10:7,9)
I am the good shepherd (10:11,14)
I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
I am the way, and the truth, and the life (14:6)
I am the vine (15:1,5)
"I am," as I have said before, recalls the words of God to Moses out of the burning bush: "I AM WHO I AM." As such, by each of these statements Jesus tells us about His mission: to bring life, to be light, to be the door, to lay down His life for the sheep. And, by each of these statements Jesus also tell us about His person: that He is part of the triune Godhead.

B "I am the resurrection and the life." Notice, Jesus does not merely tell us about and bring us life, He is life. He not only speaks of and gives us the resurrection, He is the resurrection.

"I am the resurrection and the life." Think of what Jesus is telling us here. Jesus is telling us it is in His power to withhold life and to bring death. It is in His power to give life and to raise a dead body from the grave. It is in His power because He is the great "I am" Who holds all power in His hands.

We see this great power displayed in our Scripture reading, don't we?! The great "I am" Who is the resurrection and the life, called Lazarus out of death, out of the grave, out of the tomb. He did the same thing at every funeral He attended. He had the habit of breaking up funerals with resurrections. And, on this Easter we celebrate that this happened at His own funeral too.
Topic: Christ
Subtopic: Greatness of
Index: 1463
Date: 3/1995.7

In Glendale, California, at Forest Lawn Cemetery hundreds of people each year stand before two huge paintings. One pictures the crucifixion of Christ. The other depicts His resurrection. In the second painting the artist has pictured an empty tomb with an angel near the entrance. In the foreground stands the figure of the risen Christ. But the striking feature of that huge canvas is a vast throng of people, back in the misty background, stretching into the distance and out of sight, suggesting the multitude who will be raised from the dead because Jesus first died and rose for them.

"I am the resurrection and the life." This means that it is only in Jesus, it is only in union with Jesus, it is only by participating in Jesus, it is only by believing in Jesus, that we can get life and resurrection.

III Do You Believe This?
A Did you notice how Jesus ends His statement. He says, "Do you believe this?"

If you were to die tonight and appear before the Lord Jesus Christ and He asked you the same question He asked Martha, what would you say?

Before I tell you what Martha said, let's consider the choices.

First, a person could say, "No, I don't believe that. I don't believe that You are the resurrection and the life." Many people are quite willing to admit that they do not believe that Jesus Christ gives eternal life to all who trust in Him.

Some of these do not believe in the deity of Christ, the sinfulness of man, or life after death. Obviously they don't believe Jesus gives eternal life to those who trust in Him.

Others do not believe in Jesus alone as the way to life and the resurrection. They think that they must add something to what He has done. They think they need to add things like confession of sins to a priest, penance, promising to be good, attending church, trying to obey the Golden Rule, and so on.

And still other just do NOT care. They neglect their soul, the after life, and Jesus. They live without thought of eternity. That probably describes most of our secular neighbors and countrymen. These people too do not believe in Jesus as the resurrection and the life.

The second choice is that a person could say, "Yes, I believe that. I believe that You are the resurrection and the life." I know that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for all my sins, paying the full and complete price. I am trusting in Him alone. And, since He promises eternal life to all who believe in Him, I know that I have eternal life. Yes, I believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

B Let's get back to Martha. Did she answer "No," "Yes," or "I don't know"? Here are her words: "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world" (John 11:27). She said yes! Not no. Not maybe.

These words of Martha do not always receive the attention they should. Whenever the church thinks of Martha she tends to think of the time Jesus had to admonish her for being anxious and troubled about many things (Lk 10:41f). But Martha with all her faults was a woman of faith. She agrees with what Jesus has said. She is not choosing her own way, but accepting His.

How did Jesus respond to Martha's answer? Did He rebuke her for her faith? No, He did not. Rather, the Lord accepted her profession as genuine.

C Let's leave Martha and take a look at ourselves. After all, that is why these words are recorded in God's Holy Word. "Do you believe this?" Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? You have only two choices: "Yes" or "No."
Topic: Resurrection
Subtopic: Of All Men
Index: 2416
Date: 12/1997.1669
Title: Good Night and Good Morning

Winston Churchill chose to believe. Churchill arranged his own funeral. There were stately hymns in St. Paul's Cathedral and an impressive liturgy. But at the end of the service, Churchill had an unusual event planned. When they said the benediction, a bugler high on one side of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral played Taps, the universal signal that the day is over and the night has come. There was a long pause. Then a bugler on the other side played Reveille, the military wake-up call.
It was Churchill's way of communicating that, while we say "Good night" here, it's "Good morning" up there. Now why could he do that? Because he believed in Jesus Christ.
Winston Churchill knew where he stood. He stood right by Martha. He believed that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Therefore, He could look forward to the resurrection of the body. Therefore, he knew he would keep on living even if his body died.

Do you believe this? Do you stand by Martha and Churchill?
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