Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

02/23/2020 P.M.

 

THE I AM SAYING OF JESUS

I Am The Resurrection And The Life

John 11.1-45  (1-7 & 17-45)

 

We’ve all had our own personal encounters with death… In the loss of Grandparents… Parents… Friends… Extended family… Those in our church family.

 

I’ve worked in hospice and hospital settings… Held the hands of numerous individuals as they passed from this life into eternity.

 

Conducted hundreds of funerals…

• Some in elaborate church buildings…

• Some in homes…

• Some in serene out-of-the-way graveside settings…

• Some as a celebration of a life well lived…

• Some with Military Honors…

• Some where thousands were present…

• Others where the Funeral Director and I were the only ones present…

• Some where death brought distant families together... Replete with gratitude and happy memories of the deceased…

• Others were tense affairs where dysfunctional families grieved separately with repressed anger toward one another.

• Some were easy because I thought I knew their soul’s eternal destiny…

• Others difficult because they had no belief in God…

 

I especially remember a hospice service in a quiet cemetery on the banks of Beaver Lake where I was asked not to use or mention the Bible in my remarks… Difficult!!

 

Truth is… We all will die… There are no exceptions.

The Hebrews’ Writer says… It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment.

We cannot…Outsmart… Outwit… Death... We can’t overcome it with…

• Good looks…

• Lots of money…

• Popularity…

• Power…

• Plastic surgery…

• Or positive thinking. 

Death Happens!!

 

I’m reminded of Grammy Award Winning… Singer… Songwriter… Patti Griffin… And her song about the Long Ride Home following a graveside service for her husband of 40 years...

Long black limousine

Shiniest car I’ve ever seen

The back seat is nice and clean

She rides as quiet as a dream.

 

Someone dug a hole six long feet in the ground

I said goodbye to you and I threw my roses down

Ain’t nothing left at all in the end of being proud

With me riding in this car and you flying through the clouds.

 

One day I took your hand

Put your finger in a wedding band

Your daddy gave a piece of land

We laid ourselves the best of plans.

 

Forty years go by with someone laying in your bed

Forty years of things you say you wish you’d never said

How hard would it have been to say some kinder words instead?

I wonder as I stare up at the sky turning red

 

I’ve had some time to think about you

And watch the sun sink like a stone

I’ve had some time to think about you

On the long ride home.

 

Church… The older we are… The more we’re brought to the realization that death is… DIFFICULT… CERTAIN… AND Drawing NEAR.

 

The Gospel of John is wrapped around seven I AM SAYINGS OF JESUS…

Each declaration is affirmed by... seven signs… Seven miracles... Affirming that Jesus is… the I AM THAT I AM… GOD IN THE FLESH.

 

The seventh and climactic of these signs is Jesus’ Raising Lazarus… And His saying… I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.

 

Access a Worship Handout or Bible…

Open to John chapter eleven…

If you will... Scan the text as I rehearse the high points of this narrative.

 

We begin with Jesus… Trans-Jordan… In Perea.

 

The runner arrives out of breath… Where is Jesus??... Your Friend Lazarus is Sick… The girls want you to come quickly. Jesus seems not to pay attention... He waits two days… Then heads to bethany.  Once there… They stop by a well outside the city… Martha comes running… With A SCOLDING FAITH she seems to yell at Jesus… Why didn’t you come when we sent for you… If you had been here our brother would not have died?… Why Jesus why?

 

Martha… Your brother will live…I know that... I know that… I believe in the Last Day Resurrection.

 

No Martha…

I am the Resurrection and the Life… Notice the pronoun… I am the resurrection and the life… Whoever believes in Me will never die.  Yes Lord… I believe You are the Messiah… The Son of God.

 

Mary follows Martha… Her meeting Jesus seems to be more reverent and settled. Seemly in a respectful voice… Lord…If you had been here this wouldn’t have happened. Jesus is… Touched… Deeply moved… Troubled… Jesus weeps!

Take Me to the grave

 

Remove the stone…

No Lord!... Not now… No!... It’s too late… He’s been dead four days… There’ll be a odor.

REMOVE THE STONE!!

With a loud voice Jesus says… LAZARUS COME FORTH!!

 

I don’t see Lazarus walking out of this tomb Our text says... He’s still bound hand and feet… Still blinded by the napkin over his face…

 

Like Jesus from His tomb… The stone was not moved so they (Jesus & Lazarus) could get out... But so others could… Get in… See in… Lazarus materialized before their eyes.

 

This crowd just witnessed an amazing miraculous sign that says... Jesus is the resurrection and the life… And they couldn’t wait to tell others of what they saw!

 

Well… What does this declaration and sign say to us tonight?

What can we learn from this strange but interesting narrative…

 

First it says that God works on His own timetable… And that timetable is always right… Always perfect.

 

Jesus waits two days before responding to the girls’request.

At first thought… It might seem cruel that Jesus would do this.

But God is working behind the curtain to bring about this tremendous event… Teaching them and us an everlasting truth.

 

Besides…

• If the runner took a day to get to Jesus…

• Jesus stayed two days in Perea…

• It took Jesus a day to get back to Bethany…

• And Lazarus had been in the grave four days…

 

That means he was dead by the time the runner delivered his message to Jesus… And Jesus would have known that.

 

Ecclesiastes 3.1-4 has Solomon saying... Everything happens at a time of God’s choosing… He sets a time for... Sorrow… Joy… Mourning… Dancing... Our King James reads... To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven... A time to weep... A time to laugh... A time to mourn... And a time to dance.

 

Romans 8.28 assures us that God... always... always... has our wellbeing in mind… Regardless of what we might think... We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

As we look back on some things that have happened to us… That we thought were untimely… Years later... We discover that they were not untimely at all.

 

Indeed... We discover that what happened was for our good.

 

So... Whether we discover God’s purpose or not... We must Trust Him… Trust that He is at work for our best interest… Always!... Always!!

 

Know this church… God was present and working in Bethany... And He’s present and working in Bella Vista.

 

Biblical history… World History… My and your history…Proves this point… God has our back… He is looking out for our best interest!… Amen?

 

Secondly… We learn it is alright… To question God… To misunderstand God… Even to yell at God.

 

Martha is upset… BUT!!!...

• Her faith is solid…

• She believes Jesus is Messiah…

• That He is God’s Son…

• God in the flesh come into the world.

 

But she misunderstood Jesus for His not responding to her request for help… Ever been there?... Have you ever said...

• Lord... Where are You?...

• If You had been there this wouldn’t have happened...

• This injustice wouldn’t have occurred...

• If you had acted… I would still have... My Job... My Baby... My Daughter.... My Spouse...

• The car wouldn’t have slid off the road...

• That attack would have been prevented.

Have you ever been There?... I have...

 

I’ve misunderstood Him…

• Yelled at Him!!…

• Questioned His intent!...

Only to find out that all the time… He had my best interest at heart.

 

He is God… He created us… He understands us… His thoughts and ways are above ours... God can deal with our misunderstandings… Just as Jesus did Martha’s.

 

Martha & Mary come with different emotions… One seems to blame Jesus… The other comes in respectful reverence… But Jesus doesn’t… Judge… Criticize… Scold… Nor correct either... Jesus is bigger than Martha’s Misunderstands.

 

• Don’t you think Joseph misunderstood God when he was placed in the pit by his brothers… Sold into slavery…Falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife… Jailed because he chose righteousness… And was forgotten by those he helped in prison?

 

• Don’t you think Moses misunderstood God when he rescued a fellow Israelite… And ended up tending sheep in the Sinai Wilderness... Fell from being a Prince of Egypt to a Shepherd in the Sinai Wilderness?

 

• Don’t you think David misunderstood God’s intent when he was running from Saul?

 

• Don’t you know the Apostles questioned God about Jesus’ death on the cross?

 

• How about Saul on the Damascus Road… He thought he was doing what God wanted?

 

• How about Paul on his second journey… The Spirit says… Don’t go into Asia… Don’t go into Bithynia… Then comes the Macedonian Call… Paul knows he’s to go to Philippi… But once there is thrown in prison… Don’t you know Paul must have wondered why?

 

Peter reminds us that there will be times when our faith will be tested like gold in a refiner’s fire... But we must choose to believe in Jesus anyway... Even in our suffering... Amen?

 

We learn that God weeps with us.

On the way to the gravesite… Mary’s faith and tears touch Jesus.

He’s moved by the tears of the crowd…Jesus weeps!... God cries!

 

Church... This narrative is a powerful reminder that… Our losses… Our pain and suffering… Are not overlooked or ignored by God.

 

If you think differently… I have a book on my desk by Joni Eareckson Tada that every child of God should read… Titled When God Weeps… 250 pages of explanation concerning God’s presence in our suffering…  He shares our pain.

 

Listento these verses…

 

Psalms 56.8… God… Record my lament... List my tears on your scroll... Are they not in your record?

 

Psalm 62.8… Trust in him at all times... Pour out your hearts to him... For God is our refuge

 

Hebrews 4.15 affirms that...We have a high priest that’s touched with our infirmities.

 

Revelation 21.4 tells us that God feels our pain… Because Heaven is a place where He removes such… He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore.

 

John 14… Has Jesus saying twice… If you love Me… You will keep My commandments… And the Father and I will come make our abode…Our Home in your heart….

 

Listen church… If God lives in us… And He does through the Spirit He gave us… Then He is acutely aware of our feelings.. Our Pain and Tears… Amen?

 

This narrative teaches that we will live again death is the door to eternal life.

 

We learn here that death is not our final act... Life-After-Life is possible through Jesus.

 

In our text... I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.

 

John 5.25, 28, 29... Very truly, I tell you,the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live… Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out.

 

Romans 8.11... If the Spirit of Him... God... Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

 

First Corinthians 15.50 beginning... I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

 

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Listen church… This narrative tells us that our salvation is not found IN worshiping...

• The Bible...

• The Church... This church…

• The Restoration Movement...

• Church of Christ Doctrine...

But Believing in and worshiping the personage of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh.

 

And Jesus Awakens Our Faith in Him by repeatedly saying... IAM... Meaning I am God.

 

He asked Martha... And He’s asking us tonight... Do you believe?... Really!!

 

Here it is church... It is not enough…

To just believe in Jesus… To believe in God… We must

trust Him… Trust His promises... in Genuine obedient faith.

 

For instance... Do we believe & trust God from Galatians 3.26 & 27…

You are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus... For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ... Have put on Christ.

 

Do we believe & trust Him from First Corinthians 15.8… Therefore,my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

 

Our invitation and challenge is to...

• Turn our belief into genuine faith & the New Birth of Water Baptism…

• And to become Unmovable in His Kingdom Work…

 

Tonight…Will we accept His Invitation and Challenge?... As we stand and sing?