Think Outside the Grave"      John 11:25-26, March 9, 2008

 Life is more than meets the eye. Throughout history, civilizations have been interested in life after death. The Egyptian pyramids were built by those who believed that life continued after the death. Death to them was merely a transformation into another facet of life in the universe. Even today, we see many different religions trying to grope for true and meaningful life, which lasts beyond the grave. 
The grave, however, is inevitable. As Walter Martin put it, “Death is something that happens once per person”. So where, through the myriad of religions and philosophies can we find truth about life after death?
John writes his gospel for the sole purpose of giving his readers truth in order that “...you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God; and that believing you may have LIFE in His name (20:31). We are entering the scene of Bethany in John 11, which is Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ hometown. 
The central focus of this passage is the “I am” statement of Jesus. Jesus tells Martha that if she would believe she would see the glory of God. Many believed and saw the glory of God after Lazarus was raised. But some did not. They saw Lazarus rise, but they missed the glory of God. 
By understanding the truths that Jesus taught, we can be assured of the eternal life of every believer.
 
1. First, Jesus is the source v. 25a I am the RESURRECTION
          As with the other “I am” statements in John’s record Jesus here again personifies biblical truths in Himself. When the crowd asked Jesus for the bread of life He offered Himself saying, “I am the Bread of Life”, When Thomas questioned Jesus as to the way to where He was going Jesus presented Himself saying, “I am the way”.  
Now Martha is presented with another of Jesus “I AM” statements. V.23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother shall rise again”. Martha, like the Pharisees, believed the resurrection to be a remote event to happen at the end of time. Although Jesus r4efers to this in his teachings, he is, not only the one who brings about the future resurrection, but He is also Himself the present embodiment of that resurrection. 
Immediately she returned to the doctrine she was familiar with. v.24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day”. At this point, Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life” “I am” is the present tense in the Greek signifying to Martha that resurrection power was now standing presently before her. 
A doctrine can only be believed. It cannot be trusted. Only a person can be trusted, and I am the One in whom you can trust. Jesus was calling Martha’s attention to the present toward Himself and away from the future resurrection event and away from the physical tomb. The resurrection and the life was in her presence, right now.
 
 2. Second, not only is Jesus the resurrection, He is THE LIFE.
 
John, in this gospel, uses two words that are translated into English as “life”. John refers to two different types of life. The two Greek words he uses are “Zoa” and “Suka”. 
        “Zoa” represents the life that cannot be touched by physical death. The soul; the eternal, spiritual life, which is ours in Christ.
John3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal “Zoa” LIFE.
John5:24 He who hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal “Zoa” LIFE.
John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me; and I give eternal “Zoa” LIFE to them and they shall never      perish.
       
“Suka”` on the other hand, represents physical existence.
 
John12:25 He who loves his “Suka” LIFE loses it; and he who hates his “Suka”LIFE in this world shall keep it to “Zoa” LIFE eternal.
John15:13 Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his “Suka” LIFE for his friends
John 10:15,17 I lay down my “Suka” LIFE for the sheep...Forthis reason the Father loves me because I lay down my “Suka” LIFE that I may take it again.
 
When Jesus died on the cross, he experienced physical death. Jesus laid down “Suka” LIFE, His physical existence, in order that we may have eternal life. He did not lay down His eternality: that part of Him that is very God did not die. This “Zoa”, this eternal LIFE could not be touched by death. This “Zoa”, this life is what Jesus is speaking to Martha about when He said I am the LIFE.
 
3. Third, the dead in Christ are alive (v.25b) (He who believes in me shall live even if he/she dies).
Lazarus was a believer. He was vitally connected to Christ and as a result, he was alive though his physical body had started to decay. Martha was all consumed by the thoughts of the death of her brother, but Jesus, being mindful of Lazarus’ present state, tells Martha that her brother yet lives “...even if he dies”. Beyond the grave, Martha, your brother is alive.
 
Then Jesus cried, “Lazarus, come forth”. He who had died came forth...“Lazarus was not non-existent. He did not have to be re-created. He did not have to be called back into existence. He was alive all along, Martha!
Though he was on the other side of the grave, he was alive. 
 
4. Fourth, the living in Christ never die (v.26a) (no one who lives and believes in me shall ever die).
Jesus previously addressed Martha’s concern about her dead brother and at the same time gives us comfort about the present state of our loved ones who are on the other side of the grave; He explains to us that they are not at all dead but very much alive. Now Jesus focuses on telling Martha about those who love and believe in Him who are physically alive and remain. “. . And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”. 
He does not mean that physical bodies will never die. The writer of Hebrews declares, “It is appointed for man to die once...” (9:27} Jesus has something deeper in mind than the physical life of those who believe in Him. He is speaking of the spiritual/eternal life of which all who are connected to Christ are partakers. 
Earlier John records Jesus saying that “...just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself (5:26), Because He is eternal life those who are connected to Him have that same eternal life dwelling in them, and this life death cannot touch.
 Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5;1 that “we know that if our earthly tent which is our house, is torn down, we have a building from God a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”. No one who lives and believes in Me shall ever die. Do you believe this, Martha? Friends, do you believe this?
1. First, Jesus is the source, I am the RESURRECTION
2. Second, not only is Jesus the resurrection, He is THE LIFE.
3. Third, the dead in Christ are alive.
4. Fourth, the living in Christ never die.
Therefore, we can be assured of eternal life by understanding the truths that Jesus taught in John 11. He is the source of eternal life, and through Him both those who have died in Christ and we who yet live in Christ are alive forever more. True life began for each one of us when we first trusted Christ and will continue throughout eternity. Thanks be to God.
“l am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies` and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Amen.
 
Rev. Rosemary Stelz
 
 
 
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