As summer is winding down, so too is our sermon series on the "I Am" statements of Jesus. This Sunday we will conclude with his declaration that, "I am the resurrection and the life."
Do you know the big difference between the raising of Lazarus and the resurrection of Jesus? Some of you may have heard me tell the story of my trip to a conference on the island of Cyprus. On the way to our hotel, our taxi driver pointed to a side road and said, "The grave of Lazarus is over there." I immediately thought of John 11, set in Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem. I said to the driver, "Wait, I thought his grave was near Jerusalem."
The driver replied, "That was his first tomb. This is his second tomb."
That moment will always stick with me. Lazarus had two tombs, and the second tomb has a body in it. Jesus only has one, and it is empty.
This Sunday, we will consider the story of Lazarus and the impact his (first) death had on his friends. The disciples were dismayed that Jesus delayed his journey when they first received word that Lazarus was sick. When they heard Lazarus had died, Thomas gloomily said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). Even after all Jesus had done, they had no concept of a miracle this big about to happen.
This hopelessness spreads to the others as well. When Martha sees Jesus, she is willing to express her hope in the resurrection on the last day, but she misses the hope standing right in front of her. Charles Spurgeon writes, "It is clear that she derived very little consolation from the fact of a distant and general resurrection: she needed resurrection and life to come nearer home, and to become more a present fact to her."
Instead of telling her, "I control the resurrection," Jesus tells her,
"I am the resurrection." Jesus doesn't just cause resurrection, He IS the resurrection! He is the one in whom and through whom and by whom all things are made that were made (John 1:3).
It is easy to feel discouraged by incredibly hard circumstances, by broken families and our very broken world. We may vaguely hope that Jesus will work everything out in the end. But the amazing thing is, Jesus is the resurrection and the life, right here, right now. His awesome power and overwhelming grace is today, this moment, ready to bring new life. It may not be what we expect, but it will always be for our good.
My prayer for all of us is that He would reveal his resurrection power to us. May He bring you hope and life, may He bring resurrected dreams when old ones die. May we see His power at work among us, and may He be glorified in all of our lives.