Tag Archives: lazarus

Christ as the Resurrection and the Life in the Book of John

11 Sep

lazarus

We serve a great God. It’s so reassuring to know that He is the One Who gives life, and Who takes it away. We will not “die before our time” nor live one second longer than He has ordained. “We are immortal till our work is done.” He is the One Whose voice will raise the dead at the final resurrection.
So what does it mean that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life?
We’re going to look at a few occasions in Scripture where Jesus demonstrated His power over the grave, death and hell.
The first is a case of a death bed conversion. I’ve personally heard of three cases of death bed conversions. While that’s not many, if it’s your relative, that’s the one that matters. We had a chance to share the gospel with my brother-in-law on the day he died. Only God knows the results.

The only instance of a death bed conversion in Scripture is the thief on the cross. While not literally on a bed, it was still done a few hours before his death and with a knowledge that he’d soon be facing the Judge of the earth in his guilty state.
“One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’
But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’
And he was saying, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!’
And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'”
Luke 23:39-43

What does this teach us?
One: No one is beyond hope. Even a condemned criminal with no redeeming qualities inherits eternal life simply by believing in Christ.
Two: We are not saved by baptism or works. They follow salvation, but do not merit it. This man had no opportunity to get down from his cross and do good works or be baptized. Again, he was saved by faith in Christ.
Three: There is no such place as purgatory. If anyone would have needed to go there, it would have been he. Jesus didn’t say, “After you’ve suffered and paid for your sins a while, you can join me in Heaven.” He said, “Today, you’ll be with me in Paradise.” It was an immediate reward for his faith.
Four: There is no soul sleep until the resurrection, but we are “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” It happens ‘today’, when we die.
Five: Heaven means to be in the presence of God. He would be with Jesus.

The overall lesson from this is that faith alone in Christ alone is the only means of securing a place in Heaven, safe with Jesus and protected from the wrath of God.

Why is there only one example of a death bed conversion in Scripture?
There is only one, so we do not presume to have time, and yet there is one, so that we do not despair.
While there is life, there is hope.

Next we’ll look at five other passages that show it doesn’t matter what stage of death a person is in. Because Christ has resurrection life within Himself, He is able to reverse the effects of sin, the worst being death.
Christ’s miracles showed either His control of creation as its Creator by calming the storm, turning water into wine, providing bread in the wilderness, walking on water. He also revealed His power as God to reverse the effects of the fall by casting out demons, curing illnesses like leprosy, chronic bleeding or fevers. Or healing the hopeless, like paralytics, deaf, blind and mute.
However, the greatest miracle He performed was the raising of the dead. To reverse death is something only God could do.

“While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples…
And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.”
Matthew 9:18,19,23-26

In this passage, Jairus’ daughter had just died. He raised her back to life after just a few hours.

“Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.” Luke 7:11-17

In this instance, the person, the widow’s only son, is in the funeral procession, on his way to being buried.

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “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.” Jesus said 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.” 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. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:1-44

In this instance, his friend Lazarus has been dead for four days and has decomposed and already ‘stinks’. It’s been said that when Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave, if He hadn’t called him by name, the whole graveyard would have emptied out!

Most significantly, His own resurrection, accomplished by His own power, was unique, in that He was raised with a glorified body, and He did not die again, unlike our other examples.

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Dan. 12:2

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:28,29

”Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

Finally, at the Judgment seat of Christ, everyone who has every died will be raised. It doesn’t matter how they died or where they were buried; in the earth or the sea, they will stand again on the earth.
So we don’t need to fear. No matter how many millennia we may have been dead, He is able to re-animate us and give us resurrection bodies like His own, bodies that will never die.

We first hear His voice and wake from spiritual death. At the Resurrection, His voice will wake us from physical death. As God, His voice wakes the dead. All judgment has been committed to the Son. It is the voice of Jesus Who will wake us from death.

So we see, Christ is in control of our lives. He can save someone on their death bed. There is no one too far gone for Jesus to reach. His power to raise the dead is shown in His ability to raise one who just died, one on their way to burial, one in his grave four days, or those dead for thousands of years. Most importantly, He was raised from the dead as proof that God the Father accepted His sacrifice. He was raised in a glorified body, never to die again. He was the first of a new humanity under Christ, instead of Adam.

Prayer- “Lord, I can’t pretend to be brave about facing death. I know ultimately, I will be safe with you in Heaven. But Lord, be with me in the valley of the shadow of death. Hold my hand. Comfort me. Give me assurance of my salvation. Ease my suffering. Bring me safely over to that beautiful shore.”

Questions- Do you know of any death bed conversions? Which of Jesus’ miracles mean the most to you? Do you feel you are realistic about the concept of death, or do you avoid the topic? Do you feel the same when you consider your own death? Does the resurrection of your body give you hope?

Response- Take some time to consider your own eulogy. What do you want to be remembered for? Are you living that way? What changes need to be made? If you can, consider your funeral service. Write out your favourite hymns or readings. Consider what your life’s Bible verse is. Write the sentence you’d like on your tombstone. This may seem morbid, but it’s actually a very worthwhile exercise. I’ve done it myself. See _http://piafinn.blogspot.com/2011/03/funeral-plans.html

“Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart.“ Ecc. 7:2

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Sovereign Ruler of the Skies by Mark Webb

Sovereign ruler of the skies!
Ever gracious ever wise!
All our times are in thy hands
Ordered by thy wise commands.

His decrees who form’d the earth,
Fixt my first and second birth;
Parents, native-place, and time,
All appointed were by him.

Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste the Saviour’s love:
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please our heavenly Friend.

Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till he bids, l cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.

He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb ;
All our ways shall ever be
Order’d by his wise decree.

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