John 11:28-46  “I am the Resurrection and the Life”



Are you ready to boldly go? We're bombarded by images of the young, rich and famous, but Britain's older celebrities are often more inspirational. A recent body image survey by lifestyle website has revealed that of 700 women, aged between 35 and 65, 86% think they are ageing better than their mothers' generation.  It’s a fact that the older we get the more we think about the future. That’s partly because the older we get, the faster time seems to pass us by. How often do you think about your future – your long term future I mean? Say 100 years time? When you think of eternity what goes through your mind? Do you expect to live for ever? Do you want to? Do you know that you have eternal life? I mean ‘know’.  Really know. Not ‘hope so’. Not even ‘think so’ but ‘know’. Know to the very core of your soul? Do you? If not, then this morning is for you. If you are sure, then my second question to you is this: How do you know that you have eternal life? On what basis? We will answer that question as well. My hope is that not one of us will leave today unsure of our eternal destiny.


Now I can’t give you that assurance. Only God can. Only God’s Spirit can give the assurance that you have eternal life. And that is linked to the other great promise at the heart of the Christian faith, the assurance of sins forgiven. Knowing your sins are forgiven and that you have eternal life are base camp on the Christian journey. The past forgiven and the future secure so that in the present, you can live 100% for Jesus. How does God give us that assurance? The Word of God. The Holy Spirit of God applies the Word of God to our hearts and minds and convicts or convinces. Only he can give you the assurance that your sins are forgive and that you have eternal life. In our series on the Great “I am” statements of Jesus in John’s Gospel we have come to John 11 which contains one of the more personal and poignant encounters between Jesus and some of his closest friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Lazarus is ill and dies. The sisters send a message to Jesus that Lazarus is unwell and would he please come. But Jesus waits until Lazarus has died and the family give up hope before he decides to arrive.  His first encounter is with Martha. Jesus makes one of the most profound promises ever recorded:

"I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

(John 11:25-26).


Jesus is asking you the same question. “Do you believe this?”

Lets look at the story and draw out three observations about Jesus.


1. The Authority of Jesus – His Claim (11:25-26)

2. The Empathy of Jesus – His Tears (11:33-36)

3. The Deity of Jesus – His Power (11:41-44)


1. The Authority of Jesus – His Claim

"I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

(John 11:25-26).


The resurrection of the human body is a cardinal doctrine in the orthodox Jewish faith. But in His great ‘I am’ statement, our Lord completely transformed the doctrine of the resurrection.


Out of the Shadows into the Light

To begin with, He brought the doctrine of the resurrection out of the shadows and into the light. The Old Testament revelation about death and resurrection is neither always clear nor complete; it is, as it were at times, “in the shadows.”  Some passages in Psalms and Ecclesiastes at face value can be taken to imply that death is the end and there is no hope beyond the grave. It is only in the New Testament that the final revelation of God’s eternal purposes is fully and finally revealed in Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus “has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). By His teaching, His miracles, His death and His own resurrection, Jesus clearly taught the resurrection of the human body. He has declared once for all that although death is real, there is life after death, and that the body will one day be raised by the power of God. Jesus brings the resurrection out of the shadows into the light.

Out of a Book into a Person

Jesus has transformed this doctrine in a second way: He took it out of a book and put it into a person, Himself. “I am the resurrection and the life”! (John 11:25) While we thank God for what the Bible teaches (and all Martha had was the Old Testament), we realize that we are saved by the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and not by a doctrine written in a book. This was the mistake made by the Pharisees. On one occasion, Jesus said You diligently study  the Scriptures  because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)


In Jesus Christ, every doctrine is made personal (1 Cor. 1:30). When you belong to Him, you have all that you ever will need in life, death, time, or eternity. Jesus brings the resurrection out of the shadows into the light. Out of a Book into a Person.


Out of the Future into the Present
But perhaps the greatest transformation Jesus performed was to move the doctrine of the resurrection out of the future and into the present. Martha was looking to the future, knowing that Lazarus would one day rise again and she would see him. Her friends were looking to the past and saying, “He could have prevented Lazarus from dying!” (John 11:37 paraphrased) But Jesus tried to center their attention on the present: wherever He is, God’s resurrection power is available now (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:10).


Jesus affirmed that believers would one day be raised from the dead (John 11:25). Martha did not hesitate to affirm her faith in this truth. She used three different titles for Jesus: Lord, Christ (Messiah), and Son of God. The words “I believe” are in the perfect tense. This indicates a fixed and settled faith. “I have believed and I will continue to believe!” Can you say that and mean it?

1. The Authority of Jesus – His Claim (11:25-26)


2. The Empathy of Jesus – His Tears (11:33-36)
Our Lord has tested Martha’s faith; now He has to help Mary. Mary is found three times in the Gospel record, and each time she is at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39; John 11:32; 12:3). She sat at His feet and listened to His word; she fell at His feet and poured out her sorrow; and she came to His feet in praise and worship. Mary’s only recorded words in the Gospels are given in John 11:32, and they echo what Martha had already said (John 11:21). “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)


Mary did not say much because she was overcome with sorrow and began to weep. Her friends joined in the weeping. The word used means “a loud weeping, a lamentation.”

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved c  in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”. (John 11:33-36)


Tears of Compassion

“Jesus wept”. This is the shortest and yet the deepest verse in Scripture. Jesus weeps as a friend with those who weep. He could be moved deeply by their suffering because he loved them and identified with them. Our Lord’s weeping reveals the humanity of the Saviour. We follow a weeping Messiah. His, however, was a silent weeping (the Greek word is used nowhere else in the New Testament) and not the loud lamentation of the mourners. But why did He weep at all? After all, He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:11)


He has entered into all of our experiences and knows how we feel. In fact, being the perfect God-Man, Jesus experienced these things in a deeper way than we do. His tears assure us of His empathy.


Tears of Sorrow

These were also tears of sorrow. Sorrow that because of sin, death had entered the world he had created. Have you wept openly because of your sin? If not then perhaps you have not seen yourself as Jesus does. Perhaps Jesus was also weeping for Lazarus, as well as with the sisters, because He knew He was calling His friend from heaven and back into a wicked world where he would one day have to die once more. Jesus knew what Lazarus was leaving behind. Jesus weeps because he knows earth is no match for heaven. How tragic some prefer it. Tears of compassion. Tears of sorrow.


Tears of Anguish

Anguish at the ravages of sin in our beautiful world. One only has to see pictures from Somalia and the Congo to appreciate the double anguish of starvation and war which make for a hell on earth. Death is an enemy, and Satan uses the fear of death as a terrible weapon (Heb. 2:14-18). There is also anguish for Jesus knowing many would reject him and the life he gives choose worldly gain instead and suffering eternal separation from God. Anguish for the hypocrisy he saw in some of those around him. Their weeping was a charade. They were not there to offer condolences to Mary and Martha but to find a way to destroy him – the one thing he would voluntarily do on their behalf.  Tears of compassion, tears of sorrow and tears of anguish.  


The Authority of Jesus – His Claim (11:25-26)

The Empathy of Jesus – His Tears (11:33-36)


3. The Deity of Jesus – His Power

“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen,  and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:41-44)


The one person who declared her faith was Martha (John 11:27), and she failed at the last minute. “Open the tomb? By now he smells!” Jesus gently reminds her of the message He had sent at least three days before (John 11:4), and He urges her to believe it. True faith relies on God’s promises and experiences God’s power. Martha relents, and the stone rolled away. The emphasis from this point on is on the faith of the spectators, the people who had come to comfort Mary and Martha.


Jesus pauses to pray (John 11:41; also see 6:11) and thanks God the Father that his prayer had already been heard. His prayer is therefore for the sake of the unbelieving spectators, that they might know that God has indeed sent Him. One Puritan writer observed that if Jesus had not named specifically Lazarus as He shouted out, Jesus would have emptied the whole cemetery. You know what? One day he will.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Jesus called Lazarus and raised him from the dead. A spoken word brought a dead man back to life. Only God can work such miracles. And yet he does the same every day. The experience of Lazarus illustrates what happens when someone trusts in Jesus as their Saviour (Eph. 2:1-10). Lazarus was dead, and all sinners are dead. He was decaying and some who are alive are still “decaying” their actions going from bad to worse. Lazarus was raised from the dead by the power of God, and all who trust Christ are lifted out of the grave of sin (see John 5:24). Lazarus was set free from the grave clothes (see Col. 3:1ff) and given new liberty. By God’s spirit we too are born again into a new and living hope.


Because of the great change in Lazarus, many people wanted to meet him. In the next chapter we see how God used Lazarus to bring many other people to salvation (John 12:9-11). There are no recorded words of Lazarus in the Gospels, but his daily walk was enough to convince people that Jesus is the Son of God. Are you convinced?  Which brings us back to the questions I asked earlier. Do you know that you have eternal life? On what basis? Remember what Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26).


The apostle John took this promise of Jesus and drew out its significance in his letter: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13).


On what basis can you know? On the basis of the promise of God’s word. If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour then you already have eternal life. If you have not yet done so, Jesus weeps for you, he calls you to trust him, believe in Him, receive him into your life. And he will never leave you or forsake you. Lets pray…