In John 11:25 Jesus, at the death of Lazarus, speaks to Martha declaring, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Note that Jesus did not say:
- “My teaching will give life to you”, nor,
- “Your hard work will get the results you want”, nor,
- “Follow My example to get eternal life”, nor
- “Be a good person and you will have eternal life”, nor,
- “That some form of sacrifice should be obtained, or money given”.
Instead He uniquely said that “I am the resurrection”. In history there have been many founders of religions, many great teachers, a multitude of charismatic individuals, some have been good leaders. They gave principles and philosophies to live by. They set forth ideals, visions and promises for the people, but none of them claimed that they personally were the source for the solution. None boldly stated that they were the power and basis for new hope or an eternal resurrection. Jesus made this bold proclamation and then went on to demonstrate that he could actually accomplish it, by bringing Lazarus back to life and through His own resurrection.
The bringing back to life of Lazarus was a known fact to the early Christian believers and the Jewish people in that area. After coming back to life Lazarus’s was threatened, “the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well (as Jesus), since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.” [John 12:10-11]
Yes, there is a resurrection, its affect on our lives is obtained through our trust in the work of Jesus. Jesus declares in John 11 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Vs. 25, 26)
This Easter may you rest and trust more wholly in the completed work of Jesus Christ.
As an historical aside: It is interesting that according to ancient Cypriot tradition Lazarus went to the city of Kition, now called Larnaca, in Cyprus, where later he was met by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey through Cyprus, and was ordained by them as the first Bishop of Kition.
The bones of the Lazarus were first discovered in 890 A.D. in a tomb in the small church in Kition that existed at that time. These bones were found in a marble sarcophagus which was inscribed with the following: “Lazarus four days dead and friend of Christ“. When the bones and inscription of Lazarus was found, Leo VI the Wise, was the Emperor of Byzantium Empire and according to custom, he carried the bones to Constantinople, and in exchange for them, he sent money and technicians to build the second church that was built on the same site which is still present there today.
This tradition is supported not only by archaeological evidence, but also by the credible religious historian, Arethas, Archbishop of Caesarea, who related the discovery of Lazarus’ tomb and the transport of his bones to Constantinople in the late ninth century. Arethas’ comments also give credibility to the knowledge that the bones of Lazarus in Kition was a well-know fact of the local people of that time.
Sometimes when snuggling up to me, Susan, my wife, will say, “I just like to be close to you, to hear your heart and breathing, to have your arm around me.” These are endearing words of affection from my wife. Of course, I like to have her close to me, whether we are driving, walking, working or with others at a church service, I love having Susan close to me. Even in times of worship, I will slip my arm around her and pull her close, together we then will sing in worship to our God. I appreciate Jesus and Paul as they quote the Old Testament scriptures stating how the “two shall be one” (Matt 19:6).
Now some people might object and say, “you should not get that close to your wife when in a time of worship or adoration to God”. However I believe worship and praise is something that I should do with all that I am, and my wife is part of me, so side by side, being close to each other, we respond in worship to our Creator.
One Sunday afternoon I was thinking about how much I like to have Susan close to me, I was thinking about her comments about hearing my heart, my breathing and my arm being around her. And the thought came. “Keith, Whose heart do you like to hear beating? Whose breathing do you receive comfort from? Whose arm do you want around you?” I knew that this was God challenging me, He was challenging my inner desires and longings.
Do I really cherish knowing His heart for situations, do I want to experience His breath and His Spirit in my situations? Do I long for the hand of God to be upon me? Of course I would quickly say yes to these questions, but would the reality of my daily living reinforce what I know to be right?
Lord, help us to value being near to You. Help us know and live for those things that are on Your heart.
A quick reading of Romans 8:1-16 lists some benefits to whose who walk in the Spirit and it also gives attributes of those who are led by the Spirit of God.
- There is no condemnation to whose who walk according to the Spirit. Vs 1,
- The law of the Spirit makes us free from sin and death. Vs 2,
- The righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in those who walk according to the Spirit. Vs 4,
- The Spirit is life because of righteousness. Vs 10,
- The Spirit of Christ in us will bring to life our mortal bodies. Vs 11,
- To be lead by the Spirit makes us sons of God. Vs 14,
- The Spirit which we have received is the Spirit of adoption. Vs15
- The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God. Vs 16,
These are powerful statements declaring what the Spirit of God within us will do. These verses give the results of walking in the Spirit. But what does it mean to walk in the Spirit? Is this some sensation which comes upon us and captivates our mind and emotions? Is this some experience that only a select privileged group of people get to experience and everyone else watches from the distance?
Perhaps the answer to these questions is best found right in the verse 5 where is says that those who live “according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit.” (Romans 8:5 AMP) This verse says that to live “according to the Spirit” means we set our minds on the things of the Spirit. As we endeavor to think as God would think, and to do what He would do.
Lord Jesus, let Your nature and Your desires be within us so we are led by Your Spirit.
On Saturday I celebrated my 60th birthday. One day I was 59 and remarkably the next day I was 60, it was only one day later and somehow my age changed! Friends and family gathered together to offer a surprise birthday party for me. I was quite honored by the event. Thank you for the many greetings and comments from friends, family and co-workers.
At the age of 60 many people think it is a time to consider one’s retirement plans, there may be some wisdom in actually thinking about that before you are 60. However I keep thinking, that it has taken God 60 years to get me to this point of maturity and development in my life. If I were to step into retirement and stop using what He has given, it could be a waste of what God has put into my life. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13,14 “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
I have nothing against those who retire early or those who quit ministering within the kingdom of God. There is a time for everything. I am concerned that it is easy to pull back when we need to be pushing ahead into greater productivity and usefulness in our Lord’s Kingdom.
What areas should you continue to push into, because our Lord is wanting greater fruitfulness from you? Are there areas that He would want you to pull back from, because you have completed that task which was before you? For each of us life progresses forward, one day after the other. Thoughtfully ponder how you will use today, and how you will use tomorrow.