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Sermon September 3, 2017

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1317

Dr. Ed Pettus September 3, 2017 John 11:1-27

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

“I Am the Resurrection and the Life”

 

 

 

  • A Non-Anxious Presence

 

Jesus is the coolest dude to ever live! I mean “cool” in the sense of handling stress and crisis while others around him are anxious and losing their cool. In this story of Lazarus’ death, Jesus is told that Lazarus is ill and the women have presumably asked Jesus to come and to heal Lazarus. But Jesus does not leave right away. In fact, Jesus delays His departure for two more days. Some might think that is callous, but what I call it is non-anxious. Jesus knows that there is more to come and that the illness and possible death, while it may cause us to grieve and to indeed become anxious, is still under the sovereign care of God. Jesus is, among other things, a non-anxious presence in the midst of anxiety. That presence would encourage Martha to affirm Jesus as the Christ as she was able to collect herself and respond in faith to Jesus’ presence.

I wanted to raise this point first this morning to help us understand something about Jesus and something about what Jesus may ask of us. Jesus knew how to care for people. He knew when to speak and when to remain silent. He knew when to take action and when to delay. He knew, more than anything, to trust His Father for all things. Let’s look at four verses in this section of the story, 4, 6, 14-15.

Verse 4 tells of the knowledge of God’s care. Verse 6 tells of Jesus’ patience and lack of anxiety. And verses 14-15 tell of His hope for the disciples.

 

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.”

Can God be glorified in and illness and death? Apparently the answer is yes. We look to illness and possible death as a problem to be fixed, as a very negative situation. But in this case it is for the glory of God and the glory of Jesus. While we might be saddened or anxious, God is still God and through all things we can find comfort in that truth.

6So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

What is Jesus waiting for? When we have someone close to us who is ill, we want immediate action. But Jesus shows us something remarkable, what I said before, a non-anxious presence. It’s not that the people around Lazarus were exaggerating the situation, Lazarus was ill, perhaps even dead by the time the message arrived, but Jesus did not engage in the anxiety of those around Him. Many times I have been asked what to say or what to do when a crisis happens. What do you say to a grieving parent or to a husband whose wife is ill? What is suggested in this story is not so much what we might say but simply being a non-anxious presence. When everyone is anxious, we can bring a sense of presence to help calm any given situation.

Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Here Jesus hopes that the disciples, and all who follow, will see and believe when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.


 

  • Day and Night

 

Mix into this passage are the comments about day and night.

8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Remember that John’s gospel reveals Jesus as the light of the world. We remember in John 1 this section, In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus revealed Himself in one of the I Am statements as the light of the world (John 8:12). In the text for today Jesus refers to walking in the day, that is, in the light, or walking in the night, or darkness. Those who walk in the day do not stumble and those who walk in the night do stumble. The metaphor is of light and darkness, seeing and not seeing, having the light and not having the light.

 

Jesus is inviting us to see more than what is seen. Jesus is calling for trust that we might see the glory of God in all things.

 

 

  • I Am the Resurrection and the Life

 

The high point of this passage is the I Am statement, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”


 

When we think about resurrection we think about Jesus Christ risen from the dead, and rightly so. This is the high point of the Christian faith. It is the all encompassing event that brings all the promises of God to fruition in Christ. Promises for redemption, forgiveness, presence, hope, love, and everything we might think about related to the faith. The resurrection of Jesus makes all things possible and brings us life. Jesus is not affirming a doctrine of resurrection for those Jews who believed in a resurrection, He is saying that He is the resurrection. He is the embodiment of life and will show that in raising Lazarus, but more importantly in His own resurrection from the dead.

We could spend our entire lives in what it means for Jesus to be the resurrection and never exhaust its meaning. I say that because it is so much more than raising the dead physically, but also about raising us from the dead spiritually and emotionally and in nations and systems and in every situation where it appears that death will prevail.

One form of resurrection might be found in the statement of day and night that Jesus makes earlier. He is able to bring us from darkness and into light, from the night to the day. In fact we are told in Colossians 1 that we have been transferred out of darkness and into God’s kingdom (1:13-14).

 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We could easily paraphrase that to say that Jesus has resurrected us out of the death of darkness and into the light of His kingdom.

Or take Romans 4:17, He who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Jesus resurrects us out of our deadly sinful lives into new life. He calls into existence life where life did not exist before. He is the life according to John 1:4, In him was life, and the life was the light of men. This is why we are encouraged and commanded to share the gospel, because Jesus is life and He raises us up to new life.


 

  • “You Are the Christ”

 

This part of the story ends with Martha’s confession.

Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

 

Martha confesses three things here: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and is coming into the world. It is probably one of the most complete and extensive confessions in the New Testament.

It confesses that Jesus is the One anointed as Messiah, the Son of the Father who gave Jesus to redeem the world, and the One who is coming into the world, that is, bringing the kingdom, bringing redemption to all who believe. John 1:9 testifies in a similar way, The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. I like to think of this phrase “coming into the world” as an ever present movement. Jesus had not just come into the world, not even that He came into the world, but that He is coming...He presence is ever pressing into the world, pushing out the darkness, giving forgiveness, expressing love, saving people, leading nations, protecting His own. Here He comes, He is coming into the world, into your world, He continues to come into every aspect of our lives where we have failed to die to self in order to live to Him.

He is the resurrection and the life and in this identity He gives us life by raising us out of our sin and into a new life of hope and righteousness and love.