March 3rd 2019
So we have come to our last I AM talk.
In his two talks, Rev Nev has told us that John’s Gospel contains a series of miracles, which lead to a climax with the Raising of Lazarus.
That’s the context of today’s final I AM saying.
John 11:25 and 26 Jesus said to Martha, ?I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this??
I am the Life- we have already studied with Val I am the Bread of Life, and with Rev Nev, I am The Way The Truth The Life.
You might remember that in my look at I am The Gate, Jesus offered us fullness of Life (John 10:9).
So here’s my quiz question for today:
Which car manufacture uses the slogan Passion for Life? ……..
I suspect that Renault’s understanding of the word Life is rather different from the Resurrection Life that Jesus is telling us about.
LIFE is the thread running through many of these I AM sayings.
Over the past weeks, we have learned several times, that I AM can be translated I WILL BE. Today Jesus makes the astounding claim that He is, and He will be Life Eternal.
Martha believes in the principal of Resurrection. She says so in John 11:24, On the last day, she says, she knows her dead brother Lazarus will come back to life.
But Jesus’ challenge is a stunning challenge.
Martha believes in a future resurrection.
But surely not a resurrection now.
I AM the resurrection, Jesus tells her.
When I am at a funeral, these words of Jesus sometimes come to my mind.
How would I react, if Jesus showed up and uttered to me those words he says to Martha?
I am sure that I would be just like Martha, who tells Jesus she believes, but maybe not in expectation of the dramatic demonstration of God’s power that she witnesses.
I AM the Resurrection, Jesus says.
He proves it too, in a way never before done at any funeral I’ve been to.
Why does Jesus do this?
I think it is mostly intended as a sign and proof to Jesus’ friends that His promise I AM the Resurrection is true. This miracle is only a shadow of a greater miracle that will shortly happen, Jesus’ own resurrection.
Let me ask you a question.
A rhetorical one, you may be pleased to hear.
Which was the greater miracle, do you think?
Lazarus being raised from death, or Jesus?
You could argue Lazarus, since he had been dead for 4 days, Jesus less.
Yet Lazarus’ was a temporary resurrection, we read that after he was raised to life, the Pharisees tried to kill him. No account is extant of what happened to him, though we must presume his body did die a second time. According to one tradition, he never smiled during the thirty years after his resurrection, worried by the sight of unredeemed souls he had seen during his four-day stay in the world of the dead.
In contrast to Lazarus, Jesus never died a second time!
(*John11:25) So when Jesus claims I am Resurrection and Life, He tells us that the believer will live. “Even though they die… by believing in me they will never die.”
CJ Vaughan wrote this in The Epistle to the Hebrews, 1890:
“He who lives to God knows that he must live for ever.”
Can you say that?
In this sense, Lazarus too yet lives.
But the challenge to us is more important, it’s this,
what do we believe about the After Life?
Do you believe Jesus is your Good Shepherd, Jesus is Your Way and Truth and Life? If so, then know that He is also Your Resurrection and Life!
But I want now to turn to the passage that we read in Revelation. Revelation 1:18
I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.
Here we find Jesus Past Present and Future.
1 The verse refers to the Past.
Jesus says “I was dead.”
Can you have Resurrection without death? I don’t think so.
That is the basis for our faith, and we need to remind ourselves of that fact, as we will do so in our communion.
But that is quite different from saying that
Jesus is dead.
Jesus WAS dead. But He is the I AM.
He doesn’t remain dead. He isn’t on that cross now!
You know, crucifixes are dangerous! They are a good picture of Jesus’ agony on the cross, but our cross is empty- for Jesus has risen! Sadly, it is possible to be a sort of Christian who somehow sees Jesus as merely an historical figure, a figure from the past.
But that is wrong. Ian reminded us in a sermon in January, that though Jesus WAS I AM before even the world was made, He is more. As Jesus says, in Mt22:32 The Message:
Regarding your speculation on whether the dead are raised or not, don’t you read your Bibles? The grammar is clear: God says, I am, not was, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. The living God defines himself not as the God of dead men, but of the living.
John Paterson asks this pertinent question: do you believe in “a God who was, but not in a God who is yet to be?”
The challenge, I repeat, is to believe Jesus IS the Resurrection.
2 So our verse also refers to the Present:
“I was dead, but now I am alive.”
Now, Jesus is alive.
Hence we can be alive as we sang.
I am alive in Jesus Christ.
I am the Resurrection is not ONLY a promise for the future, certainly not merely for a life in the remoteness of the last day, but it is also a Resurrection in this present life. We are born again, in that sense, this is a token, an assurance of our future Resurrection after we physically die.
Did you notice that Jesus says that He is the Resurrection and the Life? The words can mean also I WILL BE the Resurrection, but to see this I am Saying solely as in the future is wrong. I like The Message version of John 11:25 which emphasises this point:
Jesus said, “I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.”
Live close to Him, and He will prove to you that He IS your Resurrection and Life. He IS your present Help and Strength
Psalm 46 (The Voice):
God is our shelter and our strength. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide? No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails. When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless.”
Yes Jesus says I WILL BE The Resurrection and Life.
The promise is clear: Believe in Him and have Life, even though you die.
I mentioned earlier about when I am at a funeral.
Do you find it hard to grasp that the lifeless person you see in the coffin before you, WILL rise from death as Jesus promises?
Hard to possibly believe that the person being cremated and reduced to ashes, or the person buried in the ground, in the cold earth, could conceivably live any more?
Is it hard to believe?
Always, cling to that promise of Jesus.
John 12:24 A kernel of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many seeds.
1 Corinthians 15:36 When you plant a seed in the ground, it does not sprout to life unless it dies.
Jesus promises you I WILL BE your Resurrection and Life
Remember Charles Wesley’s hymn:
Happy, if with my latest breath I may but gasp His name:
Preach Him to all, and cry in death, Behold, behold the Lamb!
After drowning in 1999, surgeon Mary Neal swam up to Heaven where she spent a good 30 minutes before being resuscitated. Neal believes Jesus held her as she drowned, and that made her feel “more alive” than she had ever felt. Then she felt her consciousness break away from herself and she was “immediately greeted by a group of beings, spirits, people,” and after gaining her non-corporeal bearings she saw “many other spirits, angels, people… all running around. They were all very busy… busy doing God’s work.”
Rev Nev reminded us that many religions claim to be The Truth. Many claim to be the Way to the Truth. Some even offer Eternal Life if you can earn it.
Our faith is different. All we have to do is believe, not half heartedly, but sincerely- believe when Jesus tells us that He is The I AM, God from the beginning of time. He IS the God who has Laid down His Life for the Sheep, He is our Living Bread, who sustains us each day.
If you are one of those who hedge their bets on religion, get off the fence and commit yourself to Jesus, for He is the ONLY true and living Way!