I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
Key Verses 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 and, whoever lives and believes in me will never die do you believe this?”
First, “This sickness will not end in death” (1-16). Look at verses 1 through 7. Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus lay sick. They knew that Jesus loved them and would have dropped everything to come and help them. So they sent word to Jesus that the one He loved lay sick. But Jesus responded differently. He 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.” Wow! Jesus had a really optimistic view of everything. Instead of being sad, He saw it as an opportunity to reveal Gods glory. Jesus always saw the perfect chance to reveal the glory of God. Jesus had a single hearts devotion for God and to God that even through this deadly sickness, it was the perfect chance to reveal Gods glory. I pray that we all may have a single-hearted devotion to God so that we too may be optimistic in seeing the glory of God in our lives.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. Mary and Martha both thought, that in love, Jesus would come to them right away, but He didn't. He waited two more days. During that time, it must have been very difficult to watch Lazarus suffering in pain. They kept waiting until, finally Lazarus died. Their hope that Lazarus could have been saved was gone. Lazarus died and was buried. Jesus love is different, even though Lazarus died, HE wanted them to see the glory of God. Jesus wanted those whom He loved to see something great, to see how great God truly is. Jesus did this in love. It is the same for us. Often, we too get discouraged; we too go through difficult and painful challenges. Even though we pray a lot still the problem is there. Jesus does not want to give us a comfortable life or to make problems just go away but, in love, ultimately He wants us to see the glory of God in our life. To see this Jesus is willing to let us go through difficult and painful times, maybe even to the extreme, but in love Jesus wants us to experience and see the glory of God in our life. Then we will be amazed at how great our God truly is.
“No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.” Here, God's Son, of course, refers to Jesus Himself. Jesus being glorified through it means that, through this event, Jesus would be revealed as who He truly was - God's Son. Jesus wanted to show those whom HE loved who He truly was. Recognizing as God would be indeed, glorious. Once they saw who Jesus was their attitude towards Him would never be the same. They would truly worship Him as their God and their King. Their life would change forever. For this reason, Jesus stayed behind two more days. Maybe they misunderstood His love for them but for their sake, because He loved them He was willing to be misunderstood. Jesus was willing to go through that battle for the sake of His beloved ones.
Jesus loves us. He is concerned for our happiness and wellbeing, He wants to give us the best. He wants to reveal the glory of God in our life too. How? In our real life, problems and difficulties. Maybe we expect Jesus to give us a smooth path, or just a comfortable life, but in this way, we become complacent and naïve, we never come to see who God truly is; but God wants us to really know Him, to be mature and full of integrity having a real knowing of Him; He wants us to experience His glory – and when we do, we are never the same. We can understand just how great He truly is. When we do, we will truly worship Him, HE will be the most valuable thing in our life; all other things lose their value and we can really purse Him with all our heart and strength. Jesus loves you. So, he wants to reveal his glory to you in your real life.
After the two days had passed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples responded, “But Rabbi, a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?” At this, Jesus gave them a very important teaching. Look at verses 9 and 10. Let's read these verses together.
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.”
There are 12 hours of daylight, and then the night comes. We don't have to worry that night will come at 1pm or 11am, but once the 12 hours of daylight are over, the night comes. In the same way, God has granted everyone a certain span of life. Until that span is complete we will not die. So as you serve Gods mission your life will not end by some random drive by shooting, or a terrorist attack but only when you complete the mission God has given you. Jesus encouraged his disciples to walk by day so that they will not stumble, only when they walk by night will they stumble. Right now, the disciples were walking by night because they were afraid of the Jews and wanted to avoid any danger. Because of the fear of death, they didn't know what to do. Death controlled their every decision. In this way, they would eventually fall. ON the contrary Jesus was walking by day. His decision to go back to Jerusalem was because of His absolute trust and faith in Gods absolute sovereignty. He knew that His life was in God's hands – not at the hands of some angry Jews. At that time, he knew what to do and how to live his life very clearly - he must do the work of God and reveal God's glory and a perfect chance was waiting for him in Judea. We must not walk by night but by day – by trusting in Gods absolute sovereignty of our life. The decisions in our life must be by faith and trust in God, not by fear or uncertainty.
Jesus said to the disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” The disciples were scared of death so Jesus reaffirmed that death is just sleep, like taking a good nap. Death is the transition of this earthly body to our heavenly body where we will be refreshed and start a new chapter in our lives. So there is no reason to be afraid of death. The disciples took Jesus words literally and said “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” The disciples were really trying to get out of going back to Judea, they were saying “let him sleep, he will get better, so see? There is no reason to back to Judea.” But Jesus answered them: “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.” Not only did Jesus want to help Mary and Martha but also his disciples in overcoming their fear of death. Jesus knows our limits and weaknesses and wants to help us overcome them so that we may serve Him freely, powerfully and limitless.
At this Thomas said to the rest of the disciples “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” To Thomas being Jesus disciple was like being a Japanese Kamikaze pilot in WW2. But we must understand that Jesus is our Good Shepherd who is concerned for our well-being and wants us to enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. Jesus wants to help us overcome our fear of death and our weaknesses and character flaws and really put our trust in Him - so that our faith in God may be sound and healthy and that we may enjoy our life as real children of God.
In this passage, I can see that God truly wants me to see who He is. Like the disciples, I have a lot of fear. As I started out being a disciple of Jesus I still had a lot of fear and anxiety of life. I get nervous in situations, I get anxiety when I can't figure things out and things are confusing, I am afraid when I am uncertain of my future, but because of this I cannot serve God freely and trust in God freely. But living as Jesus disciple, Jesus has taken care of me step by step. God has given me a job, God has taken care of my family, I haven’t had to worry, Jesus has taken care of all of my practical things, now I have a career job with upward mobility. When my wife lost her job, that real fear and anxiety came back, but soon enough she got a job with the Redondo Beach Unified School District, God has taken care of my family and myself, God is taking care of my son, and I am learning that as I trust in God really, He will take care of me. Nothing will happen to me until I fulfill Gods purpose in my life. I am learning to walk by day by real trust in Him and relying on Him for all things. It is only when I don't trust Him that fear and anxiety takes control over me and in that way, I walk in darkness. God is really good, God is really loving to His people, Jesus is my Good Shepherd who is guiding me continually and I have seen the glory of God in my life. Because of this I have been free to take care of sheep and to serve His mission, I am becoming more and more free to love God and to be myself around my brothers and sisters. I am being more open to others so that I can freely love my brothers and sisters instead of being anxious all the time. Because of Jesus guidance in my life I am becoming free to love God and serve God freely. That is the glory of God in my life. Jesus is helping me to overcome my weaknesses and character flaws and I can only thank Him. I pray that I may really believe in Jesus that I would really trust Him in all things so that I may love Him and serve Him freely and unlimitedly. I pray that as I learn to trust in Jesus and follow His guidance I may change into a beautiful child of God and reveal Gods glory.
One Word: It is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it
Second, “I am the resurrection and the life.” (17-27). When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. There were professional mourners, mourning so professionally, and everyone there in the house looked so sad and depressed. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She was so sad and upset that Jesus had not been there when she needed him the most. But after blaming him that way, she felt bad and added, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” What was Martha talking about? She herself did not even know.
At this, Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Amazingly this is what Jesus was planning the entire time. But she understood Jesus' words as a theological expression and said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” That's what she had heard about from others and it was better than nothing, but practically, it did not help her at all in the given situation. As a result, she was still utterly sorrowful; it was because that theology was nothing but head knowledge - not real to her yet.
Look at verses 25 and 26. Let’s read these verses together:
Jesus said to her, “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?”
Jesus was not satisfied at all with her head knowledge of the Bible. Instead, he showed her who he was. “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus is the resurrection and the life. This is an amazing proclamation. But what does it mean that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? As the resurrection, it means that Jesus is everything of the resurrection: it is about Jesus, for Jesus and by Jesus. Jesus is the Giver of the resurrection, Originator of the resurrection, Author of the resurrection, and Owner of the resurrection. Simply, the resurrection happens because he does it! Jesus also says, “I am the life.” The expression, “the life,” shows that Jesus is everything of life. He is the Giver of life, Cause of life, Creator of life, and Owner of life. The resurrection and the life go side by side; the resurrection can be there only because there is life. So who might this person be? Who can be the resurrection and the life? He is God! “I am the resurrection and the life.” This is Jesus' proclamation as God.
Jesus then says, “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” Often, due to our own sins, or doubt, or because of life's challenges and burdens, we lose all our strength, vision, and passion for God; simply we die feeling like flat tires or worn out batteries with no life in us. But things do not end there for those who believe in Jesus, because he revives us; he gives us life power through our faith over and over. This is what all of us have experienced in our life of faith and mission. So many challenges have been there, academically, financially, and even spiritually. But by faith in Jesus, we rose again over and over. So with Jesus as the resurrection and the life, what do you have to be afraid of? There is nothing to be afraid of in this life when you believe in Jesus, because even though you die, you will live. Then you will live the life that that knows no limits, you will not be bothered or controlled by anything in this world. Instead, you can do what God wants you to do freely with no fear or worry. How come things happen this way for those who believe in Jesus? It is because he is the resurrection and the life. When you believe, you live and rise above all challenges, even death.
Jesus also says, “And whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” This is what we all desire in our spiritual life. We don't want to go through death and resurrection, or go through many spiritual ups and downs continually. Instead, we want to continually enjoy this new life in Jesus to the full, never experiencing spiritual death again. Then, how? Now Jesus gives us his answer, saying, “He who lives and believes in me will never die.” By believing in him, we live. The Bible says that the righteous will live by faith from first to last. So we started our new life by believing in him, we maintain this new life by believing in him, and we serve God’s work continually by believing in him trusting in Jesus’ love, his goodness for us, his great vision for us, and his guidance for us. That way we live our life, and when we do we will never die. Challenges might be there; you may have persecutions and sufferings; you may be poor financially; you may have some health issues. But your spirit is never bothered; you are never discouraged, but you always have such fervor for Jesus; you always love Jesus, and even in extreme challenges you enjoy such deep consolation in your heart that you are always with God – you never die. This is the kind of life Jesus wanted Martha to live instead of uttering some Biblical or theological expression, and this is the kind of life He wants us to live - the life of resurrection, and the life that never dies. Again, how? By believing in him - by believing in his goodness and love for you. Through the word of God, or prayer or singing hymns, our faith in Jesus is renewed - we become confident of his love for us, his leading and guidance, his provision and blessing, and his good plan for us; when our faith is renewed like this, we live again, and we even never die.
After this, Jesus challenged Martha personally, saying, “Do you believe this?” Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Do you believe that you can enjoy this kind of glorious life of resurrection by faith in him? Do you believe that you can live and never die by believing in him? After showing us what a glorious life we can enjoy in him by faith, he challenges us personally, “Do you believe this?” What is your answer?
Martha answered, “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” She should have stopped after saying, “Yes, Lord.” But by adding a little more commentary, she showed that she had totally missed the point. When she did not know Jesus as the resurrection and the life, when she didn't truly know Jesus as her God, her attitude toward Jesus was limited. Her service to Jesus was limited. That's why Jesus wanted to reveal his glory to her so that her eyes might be truly opened to him, and thereby, she would really worship him.
Through mediating on this passage, I learned that those who know Jesus as their true God, the resurrection and the life, are the ones who enjoy a glorious life of resurrection. I am reminded that I started this Christian life by believing in Jesus, and now the key to continually enjoying this new life is by continually believing in Him as the resurrection and the life. When I moved out to college in 2006, I did not know what I should really live for or pursue. I had changed my major 5 times in the course of one year and when I could not find anything worthy of my life, I turned to a pleasure seeking lifestyle, only to become more empty and miserable. But amazingly God saw me and had great mercy on me by sending me a Bible teacher. And through The Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke’s gospel, God’s love for one lost sinner touched my heart that I broke down in tears and repented before God. It was at that moment, when Jesus’ love became real and I believed that I could cross over from death to life and start my Christian life. I began to dedicate myself to God’s work on the CSULB campus, looking for lost sheep and teaching them the words of God, and eventually by God’s grace I could even experience the great joy of seeing disciples grow under my care.
Now that I am married and have two energetic boys, there have been a lot of challenges and difficulties where I reached my limit. Sometimes it was very hard and scary especially when my children’s well-being was involved and as God was challenging me, “Do you believe this?” But each time, by God’s help through his word and servants I could trust in God’s love and good plan for my life and children’s life, and thereby seek God first continually. At that time, God always helped me and revived my soul.
At the beginning 2015, I got my new boss and in our first conversation he told me was that I was replaceable. I was shocked and scared after that because I thought that if I did not work as much as the other employees then I would not seem as committed, and be the first to go. That year we struggled a lot with our budget and some people from our group had to go on a domestic temporary assignment in Seattle for 6 months minimum. My boss asked several times if I would go, but each time I declined, then it came to the point where he told me, “Johnny, you are going.” I was so scared to answer him and when I told him that I would not go because of my commitment to God, he was frustrated with me. I thought that surely my career at Boeing was over and I was utterly defeated. But as these things happened so many times, I learned that I needed to really have faith in God and entrust my career, security and future into God’s hands. After that, the burden was gone and I could entrust my job security into God’s hands. Amazingly, God intervened into the situation allowed me to find favor in my manger’s eyes and he promoted me that year. Hallelujah!
Also, when I was having great burden about my financial security, God provided me with several cash awards for my patents! Because of God’s provision and love for me, I could pick up new spirit and vision.
Lately, it has been really challenging to find new sheep with very limited time and limited energy. Because of this, I am often discouraged. But Jesus now challenges me through this passage, saying, “Do believe that you can find new sheep with your limited time and energy?” I see that it has nothing to do with having more time or more energy, but about me having faith in Jesus. I started my life of faith by believing and it was glorious, now as I continually go that way by believing in him in everything, I will not be defeated but will rise above all challenges and difficulties living the life that never dies With faith in Jesus, I do not settle down with anything in this world nor am gripped with fears, health issues, or security matters, but invest all I have in serving God’s kingdom work on my campus. I pray that my life may be used for God’s purpose alone and by continually believing I may enjoy that powerful and dynamic life of serving God’s mission always and find many new sheep.
One Word: Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Third, “Lazarus, Come out” (28-44). Look at verses 28 and 29. As soon as Mary heard that Jesus came home, she quickly ran out to him. She fell to his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She was upset with him for allowing her brother to die, and for not coming to help her when she needed his help in the most difficult time of her life. Jesus asked, “Where have you laid him?” “Come and see,” they replied. When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Jesus was aware of how much they had been overwhelmed by sorrow and death. This made him troubled in spirit. They needed to see the glory of God for only then, their sorrows could be taken away from them. Driving them to the corner when they were overwhelmed was not easy for Jesus to do. This had made him cry. Seeing how much pain they were in also made him cry. Some of his critics were also at the same location: some saw his love for them when he cried in front of them. Other people entertained the fact that it was Jesus’ fault for allowing Lazarus to die and for making Mary and Martha suffer.
Sometimes in our practical lives, Jesus allows us to go through difficult times even to the point we are overwhelmed with pains and sorrows. This is not easy for him to do. Sometimes we cry when Jesus does not answer our prayers. Sometimes we have a hard time pressing on. We hope for some measure of comfort from him, yet he gives us no response. Still, he leads us this way so that we could see the glory of God. Only by witnessing the glory of God in our situation, our spirits could be revived and rejuvenated. We will not be controlled even by our present circumstances.
Look at verses 38 and 39. Jesus deeply moved again and went to the entrance of the tomb. He said, “take away the stone.” What Jesus said was shocking and beyond common sense, so Martha said, “But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” In response, Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Let’s read verse 40 together:
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
After four days in the tomb, Lazarus’ eyes were decomposed. His organs and muscles liquefied. His skin was pale. His body was covered with maggots. Martha did not want to see her brother’s decomposed, maggot filled flesh. She would rather not have the last memory of him be his decayed body. She wanted the tomb to be covered. Jesus did not accept her sentiments. In fact, he challenged her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Only by faith in Jesus she should expose her brother’s decayed, maggot-filled body. She would remove the stone by faith rather than in fearing of the worse possible outcome. She would see the glory of God and not experience an embarrassing moment. Things would turn out glorious for her-- far beyond what she could imagine: she would see her brother come back to life! Wow. Jesus challenged her to believe his power over death. This challenge was new for her. She never thought that Jesus had power over death. She knew that Jesus had power over sickness, diseases, including demons. But she never thought that Jesus had power over the Grim-Reaper—death. Death is a mighty champion and has been so for thousands of years. No one could outdo him. But Jesus, in today’s passage, tells Martha that he could defeat death by raising Lazarus back from the dead, and He wanted her to believe that he could do it. She must put her faith in Jesus as the resurrection and the life.
Today, Jesus encourages us to remove our stones from the tomb. Many people have something that they do not want to expose publicly. They fear that if they expose that embarrassing part or ugly part, they would be shamed. However, as they hide behind that problem or issue, they are actually like a decaying corpse inside a tomb. They make excuses saying, “Lord, it’s so bad.” Or they say, “People will think I am a weirdo. There’s no hope for me.” Jesus challenges us that if we believe in him as the resurrection and the life, we will see the glory of God. If we expose our ugly and disgusting and decomposing part, we will witness something marvelous. Like what? A weird person becomes sound; a sexually immoral person becomes clean in heart and in deed; a hateful person becomes loving and thoughtful; a traitor becomes sincere and faithful; if we believe in Jesus as the resurrection and the life, we remove the stone of doubt, the stone of fear, and then we will experience the glory of God. Jesus says to us, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
After Jesus’ challenge, they picked up faith and rolled the stone away, then he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” And lo and behold, Lazarus walked out of the tomb, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus told them to remove the grave clothes. All the maggots from Lazarus’ body were gone. His skin color was restored, and his eyes were bright. He looked like a healthy young man. Everyone else was amazed and put their faith in Jesus. They experienced Jesus as the resurrection and the life.
In 2010, God gave me vision through Mark’s gospel that I would be sharp and effective man of God when I reach 30 years old. God’s words to me at that time was alive to me, because I kept Psalm 1:2, 3 very seriously which says, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prosper.” During that time, I worked yet had no car and rode the bus two hours to get to campus and two hours to get home. I was not burdened at those times because I was meditating on God’s words and completing my testimonies on the bus. The word of God was refreshing; I felt like a tree planted by the streams of water. Surprisingly I became a fellowship leader because I did not think that I could be a leader. I also was inspired to start the Narnia symposium at a New Year’s conference in 2011. That same year God helped Herman received God’s words personally and he also became a dedicated servant of God as well. In December 2011, I married Sarah, a woman of God. Later, God also raised up Darius from under my care. He too has been growing. God blessed me to be a fellowship leader to be an encouragement to my fellowship every week.
As time went on in 2014-2016, many of my fellowship members left the ministry. I was very bothered by this because each person in my fellowship was very dear and precious in my eyes, and we all worked together closely like a family. During the time my daughter Sylvia was born, and I came to have many more things to take care of. Seeing all of this was like seeing Lazarus die in front of me. Although I tried to build my fellowship up, and I tried to find and teach sheep the Bible, I did not see sheep grow well. It was like my vision even to be effective and sharp bible teacher would not come true. If Jesus made things go well, like heal Lazarus’ sickness, I would be happy just as Mary and Martha would be. But since Jesus let my fellowship diminished and not given me any new sheep to teach, I was confused and bothered.
In November 2016, I began working at a Chrysler dealership in Signal Hill and am working 9 to 10 hours a day five days a week. I only have one day to serve campus mission. Even though I struggled hard to teach sheep I had no success. Although I pursued God’s vision, things seemed not becoming true. What if Jesus allowed his vision in my life to die? Jesus wanted me to learn something about him. Despite how things go in my life—good or bad—many sheep or no sheep, would I believe in him? Would I look to him and remain in the love relationship with him? It’s Jesus who has provided me vision and it is Jesus who has given me his blessings—not because I worked hard or I earned some reward. He gives me the vision and allows it to happen. At first my reaction at seeing his vision not come true was, “What! Oh NOOOOO!!!” But He is the resurrection and the life so he decides what lives and what dies. Jesus wants me to concentrate on him and not be so concerned about his vision coming true or not, because ultimately that decision belongs to him. Jesus waits two more days where he is, or he even lets Lazarus die, all for my sake, so that I may know him really. My idea was that the glory was witnessing the vision coming true and seeing disciples grow powerfully under my care. But real glory is Jesus himself. Learning about him more and more is true glory. Getting closer to him is my reward. Therefore, I will choose to love him and be faithful to what he asks me to do, despite the outcome because he is the resurrection and the life. Then I will see him more and be happy with him all the days of my life. I will laugh and cry because of him. He will be my joy and my song. He is the glory that I will see.
One Word: Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?
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