The Wonder of His NameResurrection and the Life
Leslie Basham: The upcoming Resurrection Sunday isn’t just another holiday. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The resurrection is not just an event, which we’ll be celebrating shortly, it is that. But more than that, it is a Person. I am the Resurrection and the Life.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, March 28.
Each day for the last couple weeks, Nancy’s been unpacking one of the names of Jesus. The series is called “The Wonder of His Name.” Today, she shows us why it matters that Jesus is “The Resurrection and the Life.”
Today’s program was recorded at College Park Church in Indianapolis, part of the Revive Tour.
Nancy: Jim Garlow is the pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, California. Last spring he posted this sad entry on his blog:
I conducted the funeral for our Executive Pastor’s son on Tuesday. Pastor Bruce and his family in are great pain. . . . Then, I conducted the funeral for our Youth Pastor’s infant son yesterday. Pastor Todd and family are also in deep grief. They hurt badly. Rugged week. But all are thankful for the empty tomb we celebrated only two weeks ago on Easter.
Now, at the time he wrote that post, Pastor Garlow’s wife was nearing the end of a several year battle with cancer. Three days after that first post, this is what he wrote on his blog:
Carol and I have just returned from her oncologist’s office. By mutual consent between Carol and her doctor, treatment has been discontinued. Hospice is now beginning. . . . it is believed that Carol has approximately one to two months of life left on this earth.
I am typing these words through tears and, candidly, in a bit of disbelief and shock. But, as quoted in the Easter sermon two weeks ago, “We are not as those who grieve with no hope, nor are we as those who hope with no grief.” We have unshakably strong hope. We have indescribably deep grief.
Through tears, Pastor Jim
Well, five days later on Sunday, April 21, Pastor Jim’s blog said:
Forty-two years ago, we ended our wedding vows with the words "until one of us shall place the other in the arms of God." I just did that.
You know, ever since Genesis 3, death has been an inevitable part of life. And I doubt that there are any of us here who don’t know what it is to grieve over the gravesite of a loved one, a dear friend. Some of you within recent weeks or months have buried one who was very dear to you, or you’re in a hospice situation right now where you are facing that for someone you love. Maybe you’ve received a terminal diagnosis, and maybe you’re the one with one or two or three months or years to live as far as you know.
I want to invite you to turn in your Bible if you would today to a place where we get hope from God’s Word. That’s where hope comes from for every situation of life. The Gospel of John, chapter 11. We want to look at a familiar passage there today and see what it has to tell us about the Lord Jesus.
Now, we’re going to join Jesus and the disciples here in John 11 in the village of Bethany. There we’re going to see a close-knit family with their friends, who are grieving the loss of their brother and their friend, Lazarus. It’s four days after Lazarus has died, and Jesus finally arrives on the scene.
And you remember how Jesus had often visited this small village before. Bethany had been for Him a haven, a place of sweet friendship and fellowship. But now, Bethany had become a place of heartache and despair. In fact, the word “Bethany” is an Aramaic word that means “house of misery or affliction.”
How’d you like to live there? House of misery or affliction. Now you may not live in a place called “House of Misery or Affliction” but maybe you are living in that kind of setting or someone you know is in that kind of setting. And it’s against this dark background and setting, that Jesus reveals to us one of His most lovely names.
Beginning in verse 21 we see that Lazarus’ sister, Martha, has heard that Jesus has arrived in town and here in verse 21 she goes out to meet Him. And she says:
Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you(vv. 21–22).
So here is Martha, the sister of the man who has died. She doesn’t understand Jesus’ ways at this moment. She doesn’t understand what He’s up to or why He wasn’t there when her brother died when it appears He could have been. She believes that Jesus could have healed her brother when he was sick.
But she thinks it’s now too late now for Him to do anything about her situation. It doesn’t enter into her mind, I don’t think, that this situation could be changed at this point, death is after all final, right? So she’s not thinking that she will ever have a chance of seeing her brother again in this life.
But what I love about this verse is that she still hasn’t lost confidence in Jesus, even though she doesn’t understand, even though His ways are incomprehensible to her, even though things are really a muddle right now, she still believes in Jesus.
She says in verse 22, “Even now I know . . .” Even now. Even now when life has ebbed away from the one I love, when his body is in the grave and is going to rot there. Even now I know. She knows that Jesus has a unique and close relationship with God. She knows that whatever He requests of the Father will be granted, even when there is no human hope.
Well, verse 23:
Jesus [says] to her, "Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (vv. 23–24).
So think about this for a moment. Martha has revealed already that she has faith for the past. She believes that if Jesus had gotten there before her brother died, Jesus could have healed him. And she has faith for the future. Right? She believes that Jesus will raise her brother one day, down the road, way out there in the distance. So she’s got faith for the past, faith for the future, but she doesn’t have faith for this moment. She can’t imagine anything happening in the here and now after her brother has been dead for four days.
Now, think about this. She knows that Jesus can raise her brother from the dead decades or centuries down the road. But he’s been dead four days, and she doesn’t think anything can change. She needs faith for her present situation. And this is when Jesus reveals another of His great “I AM” names. This is the fifth one we’ve looked at in the Gospel of John. Verse 25:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die [looking at Lazarus who had just died] yet shall he live, and everyone who lives [Martha, Mary, your friends, everyone who lives] and believes in me shall never die” (vv. 25–26).
So whether you’ve already died or you are still living, the key is that you believe in Jesus and that determines your eternal destiny.
So here Jesus reveals Himself as the “I AM”—the eternally existent Jehovah that we talked about some days ago. She had hope for the future, she believed in a resurrection that was coming “on the last day,” at end of the age, but she lacked hope for the present. And this name of Jesus means to her that resurrection, which she’d hoped for down the road, resurrection has come. Resurrection is right here, right now. Present hope.
Now, like so many of these other names of Jesus we’ve looked at, this one is also a claim to deity. Jesus is claiming to be God because only God has power of life and death. Only God can give life. All life originates with God. You remember reading in Genesis 2: “The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (v. 7).
If you have breath, if you have life, you got it from God. You may not believe in God. You may claim to be an atheist, but if you’re breathing, you got your life from God. He is the source of all life.
So in saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” Jesus is saying again, I am God. I am the source and giver of life. Now, notice that Jesus doesn’t just say, “I will raise your brother from the dead” which is true. But Jesus says instead, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Not just what I will do, but who I am.
It’s a reminder that eternal life is wrapped up in Jesus. It’s embodied in Jesus, in belief in Him, in a relationship with Him. There is no physical life apart from God breathing life into us. And there is no eternal life, no spiritual life apart from Jesus who is the Resurrection and the life.
So you see, the resurrection is not just an event, which we’ll be celebrating shortly, it is that. But more than that it is a Person. I am the Resurrection and the Life. Our hope of eternal life beyond the grave is not found in some abstract theological concept, but it’s found in a Person. Jesus is the answer to death.
You see, we were created to live forever. And I know you know this, but I think it’s good just to review these things every once in a while and remind ourselves of what we believe and why. We were created to live forever and then Adam and Eve sinned. We sinned in them. And the wages of sin is what? Death—physical death, spiritual death, eternal death. They could no longer eat from the tree of life.
The wages of sin is death and Romans 5 tells us, “As sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because we all sinned” (v. 12).
Adam and Eve sinned. The result was death. We have sinned. The result is death. We’re born spiritually dead, the Bible tells us, separated from God who is Life. We all die physically, as well. So on every front we’ve got death to anticipate. That’s what we have to look forward to is death—physical and spiritual. And that’s where Jesus comes in—the Resurrection and the Life!
Jesus became a man, He lived a sinless life, He tasted death for every man, Hebrews 2 tells us. Acts tells us, “You killed the Author of life.” How’d you like that on your resume? “You killed the Author of life,” but death couldn’t keep Him because Act 3 goes on to say: "God raised [him] from the dead” (v. 15). You killed Him. God raised Him from the dead. So Jesus died and came back to life again so that we might have eternal life. He gave us life by taking our death.
This whole concept of “life” is a recurring theme in the Gospel of John. Sometime as you read through the Gospel of John just circle all the times you see the word “life.” You’ll see it about forty-three times. The phrase “eternal life” you’ll see eighteen times in the Gospel of John.
And keep in mind that eternal life, as the Scripture understands it, is not just something that happens down there in the future. But it’s a quality of life that comes into the present now. We move into eternal life at the point at which we come to faith in Jesus Christ. And that life comes only through Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life.
So you see this theme all the way through the Gospel of John.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36).
And then a lot of talk about life, keep your finger in John 11, and if you’re following along in your Bible, turn for just a moment to John 5, a lot of talk about life in John 5. We’ll come back to Lazarus in just a moment.
For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will . . . Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live (vv. 21, 24–25).
Do you think that maybe Martha had about Jesus saying those words before He got to Bethany? Maybe that’s where a seed of faith was planted in her heart.
For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. . . . Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (vv. 26, 28–29).
Now, a lot we could say about that last verse, but I just want to point out that in the last day, all will be resurrected. All those dead bodies will be resurrected. Those who have believed in Christ and evidenced that faith by obeying Him, they will be raised to eternal life. Those who have not believed in Christ and have evidenced that by not being willing to obey Him, they will be raised up. They are still in their sin, and they will pass on to eternal judgment.
There are only two options, and it all hinges on believing what Jesus said in John 11, go back there now, verse 25:
Jesus said [to her], “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die" (vv. 25–26).
Now it’s not enough just to hear Jesus say these words, to be exposed to this truth. Jesus asked Martha in verse 26, “Do you believe this?” Do you believe what I’ve said? He’s really saying, “Do you believe in Me? Do you believe that I am who I say I am?” This believing means not just intellectual assent, but it means personal faith and trust being placed in Jesus.
This is huge because in this passage we see that whether you believe in Him or not is a matter of life or death, eternal life or death. So that’s a question we all need to answer when we hear what Jesus says about life, about death, about faith, about the resurrection, about Himself. The question is: “Do you believe this? Do you believe Me?” Well, verse 27:
She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Now, there’s a lot Martha still doesn’t understand, but one thing she does believe and that is He is who He said He was. He is the Christ, the Son of God, the promised Messiah. And because she knows He is who He claimed to be, she knows she can believe and rely on His promises. So here in this moment, faith in who Jesus is, displaces and overcomes her doubts, her confusion, her despair, her fear. It’s faith in Jesus that makes the all difference in her life at this moment as they come to the graveside of her brother.
So what about you? Do you believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be? Do you believe that those who die believing in Jesus have eternal life?
Well, Jesus finally ends up at the grave of Lazarus with Martha and her sister. And you remember the story of how He proves there beyond the shadow of any doubt that He is in fact the Resurrection and the Life. He demonstrates His deity, His power. He declares His authority over life and death as He says, “Lazarus, come forth.” And Lazarus who’s been dead for four days comes walking out of that tomb.
Now, within a matter of days, Jesus is going to lay down His life on the cross. And the raising of Lazarus from the dead reminds these dear friends, and believe me it came back to their minds days later, that death is not final. This miracle of Jesus sets the stage for Jesus’ own resurrection as He says in John 10, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again” (v. 17)
Now, knowing Jesus as Resurrection and the Life has a lot of implications for our own lives and our own faith. Let me just mention a few of those. First of all, as we’ve said already, Jesus is the Source of all life.
He gave us physical life. He regenerates our lifeless spirits by His Spirit. He gives abundant, eternal life to those who place their trust in Him. And to have this life we must believe in Him, place our faith in Him.
One question I would ask today is do you have eternal life? Do you know that you do? Have your placed your confidence, your faith in Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life? If so, then you know that you have eternal life.
And then, knowing Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life delivers from fear of death. It brings hope where there would otherwise be only despair. It means that death is not final. Death has been overcome. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He put death to death. Isaiah 25 tells us, “He will swallow up death forever” (v. 8). That’s what Jesus did through His death and resurrection.
Back in 1986 I sat in the funeral of my youngest brother, David, who had been killed in a car accident—had been on life support for a week and then he was gone. I’ll never forget something that one of the ministers said at David’s funeral. They said, “We think of David as having gone from the land of the living to the land of the dead.” He said, “The fact is, David has gone from the land of the dying to land of the living.” And that’s the truth if you believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life—that delivers us from fear of death.
It also assures us of the resurrection of our bodies. On that the final day, our bodies will be raised, thankfully not these exact same bodies but glorified bodies. I don’t know what that means, what that looks like. I don’t know if I’ll still be this short. But our bodies will be raised and they’ll be united with our spirits to live with Jesus forever. We are part of His body. He is our head, as we’ll see later in this series. He has redeemed us, not just our souls but our bodies. Every part of us will share in His resurrection life.
Philippians 3 says, “[He] will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (v. 21). That is one of my all-time favorite verses. I love it. 1 Corinthians 15 says, “This perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (v. 53). The fact that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life assures us of the resurrection of our bodies and the bodies of those we love who have died in faith in Christ.
And then finally, knowing Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life can infuse life into hopeless situations where there is no life—situations where humanly speaking, there is no hope of life. There’s a great illustration of this in Ezekiel 37. You don’t need to turn there but let me just read to you a paragraph. You remember this is the vision of the valley filled with dry bones, a picture of death. And then God says to the prophet,
Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, "Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off." [lifeless] Therefore prophesy, and say to them, thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. . . . And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live" (vv. 11–14).
Now, in its immediate context that’s a promise of coming national revival for Israel—dead bones will live again. But that’s the same power, the power of the resurrected Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life, the same power that can breathe life into lifeless structures today: life into your marriage, life into your family, life into your church.
Do you feel like saying sometimes, “Our bones are dried up. Our hope is lost. We are cut off.” Then you need the Resurrection and the Life. And he can breathe hope and life into situations that seem lifeless.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26). Do you?
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us what it means that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. She’ll be right back.
If you really grasp this truth, this upcoming Resurrection Sunday won’t just be another tradition, another holiday. It will be a celebration of knowing Jesus personally.
That teaching is part of a series called “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.”
How has this series affected you? You can let us know at the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. Scroll to the end of today’s transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com. Make a comment and read the other comments from our listeners. You can also write directly to our team. You’ll find a place to email us at ReviveOurHearts.com.
There are a lot of resources available to you at the website. You’ll find the audio and the transcripts for all the programs in this series so far. And you’ll find video versions of all the programs. Again, these free resources are at ReviveOurHearts.com.
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