Do You Believe This?

John 11:25-26

He is alive! In fact, here’s what he said. He said,

[John 11:25-26] 25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

I didn’t say that. Jesus did. I tell you that because when my wife and I got married, we were both widow and widower. And so we wanted to honor our former spouses at our wedding. So before the wedding began, we did a montage to some music of both her first husband’s life and my first wife’s life. And back and forth, the pictures went. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! And the last slide was this one, the quote that I just gave you. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And he lives and believes in me will never die.” And then… this is exactly as we had it. In bold letters, “Do you believe this?” Because I was already a pastor, half the congregation thought I was just preaching to them. And I had to remind them, I didn’t say that! That’s what Jesus asked! “Do you believe this?” And “believe” — that’s the operating word today when it comes to the resurrection.

I’m in John chapter 11 where that famous quote is, and the “yes” response to this has been the thing that has changed lives all over the world from that time to the present hour. And it’s reason why countless people have risked life and limb for the kingdom of God’s sake. So here’s what’s going on. John chapter 11, I just want to start reading here. And you can just listen in.

John 11:1- , 1 “Now a certain man was ill,” (He’s not dead yet. He’s just ill) Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (Lazarus, Mary, Martha… brother and sisters. So verse three says,)
3 “So the sisters sent to Jesus saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” (That’s an interesting way of putting it.)
4 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.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

Now that’s interesting! The sisters sent word to Jesus. The one you love is ill. The Bible tells us Jesus loved all of them. Why would it be redundant? Because it’s not redundant! There’s two different words for “love” there. When the sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus, the one he loved is ill, that’s the word, “phileo.” When it says that Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus, it’s the word “agape.” That’s agape —that “God so loved the world” kind of love that He loves all of us! Amen? But when his sisters appealed to the love Jesus had for his best friend, Lazarus, they use the word “phileo,” which means the love of an endearing friend, because I can love you unconditionally and not get love back. That’s God’s love for us. But phileo love is ‘I love you because you love me. And you love me because I love you.’ And that’s the kind of love relationship, friendship, that Jesus had with Lazarus. And so that’s the reason why they appealed to it. In fact, later on, the same thing is said in verse 35,

John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

And Jesus is at the tomb when he wept, that famous verse 36 says,

John 11:36, “See how he loved him!”

“Phileo.” So Jesus has been called by his sisters to come and make better the sick guy that’s his best buddy. And so what does Jesus do? He gets on a horse and rushes there… right? No! he says, ‘I think I’ll just wait it out for two more days.’ He waits until he dies, because he was about to pop the greatest miracle he ever did just before he pulled off the greatest miracle there ever was which was to raise from the dead! This was his greatest miracle. Jesus said to his disciples in verse 11,

John 11:11, ”After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”

And they go, ‘Hey, if he’s sleeping, he’s going to get better. We don’t need to go there. It’s dangerous ground over there.’ And so Jesus — it’s almost comical! He says, ‘He’s dead.’ And it took him four days to get there because it tells us… in fact Jesus says…

[John 11:14, “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.”]

‘I’m glad that I was not there, that you may believe.’ Did you know that John’s gospel uses the word “believe” 98 times? Do you think it’s a main theme? He wants us to believe! That’s the operating word here this morning — Believe. And so Jesus shows up and it tells us

John 11:17, “Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.”

Remember what happens later on when they opened the tomb? Remember … if you do that, by now… what? — he started to smell! Four days, by the way — he did this to stump a Jewish myth. There was a myth in those days that the spirit of a person hovered over the dead body for three days. Did you know that? And so after three days, the spirit would bug out. And Jesus isn’t just the king of death. He’s the king of superstition! That wasn’t true, but in order to show that he’s the king over death, he let Lazarus go four days in the grave. And so then he shows up, and then there’s this back and forth. There’s people consoling Mary and Martha, the bereaved sisters. I want you to note what Martha says to Jesus in verse 21. Martha said to Jesus,

John 11:21, “Lord, if you had been here,” (What?) ”my brother would not have died.”

They couldn’t imagine his best friend dying in his presence because nobody ever died in the presence of Jesus. But he is dead. And so when she says, “Lord, if…” See? “If” hurts, doesn’t it? The Lord helps. The Lord helps. If hurts. You know, when we say “if,” we are acknowledging that we’re looking back at something we can’t change. If she had made that call… If she had traveled a different way… If he had gone to the doctor… How many times have we said if? But the Lord looks up to the One who changes everything. And by the way, Martha didn’t just say this. Later on when Mary got with Jesus, she says the same thing in verse 32!

John 11:32, “Lord, if you have been here, my brother would not have died.”

The point is, death has such finality to it, doesn’t it? Even those who believe in a future resurrection. And so Jesus says to Martha, he says,

John 11:23, “Martha, your brother will rise again.” (And I love Martha’s reply!) ‘Lord, I know that he’s gonna raise in the last day…’ because everybody believed in a general resurrection at the last day. And Jesus basically says, ‘You’re not getting it. He’s rising!’ And then he says those epic words,

[John 11:25-26] 25 “I AM the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes (there’s the operative word) whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

So he’s saying, when he said, ‘I am the resurrection of life,’ here’s what Jesus was saying. ‘The whole concept of resurrection exists in Me! I AM the resurrection,’ but he doesn’t just stop there. He says, “I am the resurrection… and the life!” One chapter earlier, in chapter 10 verse 18, Jesus, this is the good shepherd passage.

[John 10:18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”]

Jesus said, ‘Look, I have the power. I have the “exousia.” I have the power. I have the authority to lay my life down, and I have the authority to bring it up again! Have you ever read that? He was saying then, even before this, he’d be raising up Lazarus! I can do all of this! I can bring death! I can bring life — because it all exists… in Me!

And what does that mean to you? And what does that mean to me? I’ll tell you what it means. Because everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there… right? But here’s the point. If you believe, you never have to worry about dying, because (now watch this) — Jesus has already died for you, (and wait for it) He’s already lived again for you! We don’t talk about that very often! But that’s what the resurrection is all about! Amen? It isn’t that Jesus just died. We’re baptizing people. We don’t just keep them under the water! That would be silly. ‘I now baptize you, and you’re gonna stay there and die.’ No! We raise them up again, because it’s symbolic of the identification that they have, not just with Jesus’s death, but with his resurrection! And the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ says he’s the king over death! He’s the king over life! He is the king. We just sang about it, right? And the rest is history. He shows up at the tomb. The Bible tells us that when he gets there, it says “he was moved in his spirit.” Verse 33.

[John 11:33, “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.”]

In fact, he says the same thing in verse 38.

[John 11:38, “Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.”]

Then Jesus was “deeply moved again.” The same word. Only a couple of times it’s ever used. The word deeply moved, it literally means “to snort.” They snort with anger! In fact, it was used of a snort of a war horse. Why would Jesus be so angry right now? In fact, this is the context where it says “He wept.” [John 11:35] So his anger wasn’t out of control. He was just… he wept because (listen to this) death, we’re told in the Bible, is the final enemy. It’s the last enemy. And Jesus was staring his enemy in the face at that tomb where his friend was entombed, dead for four days! And he was about to conquer it all over again! And so he snorted in anger, so to speak. And it says, he lifts up his voice.

[John 11:41-44, 41 “So they took away the stone. Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
42 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.”
43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”
44 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.”]

The Bible says he prays to his Father, and thanks the Father that he’s heard him, because he always hears him. And then when he said these things he cried out with a loud voice, that’s the word “mega.” We get the word “mega” from that word… “megale. ”… with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out!” And let me tell you something… Even dead people have to obey Jesus! And out he comes, all wrapped up! He’s unbound. He’s let go. His best friend is alive again!

If we were to go to John 12… (We won’t go there.)

[John 12:1-2, 1 “Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.]

The next scene is like a day later. Here, the scene is, Jesus sitting at the table, and there’s Lazarus right across from him. People are coming like crazy just to see the evidence of the power of God and this man called the Messiah! Do you realize that in one week from this event would be this day, the resurrection of Jesus! He died just a few days later and rose again… just a week later! So what Jesus did to His friend was a prelude to the celebration we have right here! How cool is that? I’d say very cool!

So the next day, they were having like a resurrection party, which is what Easter is… Is it not? The evidence… and by the way, verse 45,

[John 11:45, “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him…”

Mission accomplished! Believed. This is why Jesus asked,

[John 11:26b] “Do you believe this?”

This is the reason why millions… millions of people have believed ever since! The evidence of the resurrection is everywhere! — The empty tomb, the 11 appearances of Jesus, the eye witnesses… over 500! — And not the least of which is the radically changed lives! As a result of Jesus being raised from the dead, the Apostles, who were scaredy cats, were turn the world upside down! And the willingness of so many to die… for this Good News!

I love missionary stories! Do you? One of my favorites took place over 150 years ago. His name was John Paton. John Paton had a burden to reach the tribal people of the New Hebrides Islands, the chain of islands which is east of Australia, and they were cannibals. They literally ate people! In fact, 20 years earlier before John Paton presented his case for going to reach them… (it was documented) another missionary did the same thing. Got into this small boat… onto the island. The people in the main boat watched it happen! The cannibals came, killed them on the spot… ate them on the spot! And so, imagine… 19 years later John Paton saying, ‘These people need to… know about the Lord Jesus Christ!’ And there was an argument that ensued! And a certain Mr. Dixon was, he was an elderly guy and he let him have it! He said, “This is foolishness!” He said, “You’ll be eaten by cannibals!” Now, I love this story, because it was clear that John Paton was prepared for this, because he looked at that group of people and specifically at Mr. Dixon. He said,

“Mr. Dixon, you are well advanced in age, about ready to go to the grave where you’ll be eaten by worms.” He says, “It makes no difference to me. If I can serve the Lord Jesus Christ and honor Him, then if I die and be eaten by cannibals or by worms, I’m convinced that in the great resurrection day, my body will rise just as fair as yours before our living Redeemer!”
John Paton

How cool is that? And he went to the New Hebrides Islands. And when he went there, there was not one Christian. When he left, there was not one heathen!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything! It’ll change everything in your life if it hasn’t done so already. It’ll change the way you look at your wins. It’ll change the way you look at your losses. It’ll change the way you look at your relationships. It’ll change the way you look at your job. You’ll change the way you look at every aspiration you have in this world, because every single one of those things is going to go away someday. But the resurrection says, ‘I will live again because Jesus lived again! — if I believe. Do you believe? It changes everything!

Speaking of change, about five or six years ago, I gathered all of our elders and I just thought, ‘You know, I just got to see where their hearts are at.’ I said, “We were gonna come together next week, and I want you to come with one or two things that you’d like to see me change.” They had a lot of things they wanted me to change! I’m just telling you right now. And we got all the way to the last elder, and he’d heard so many of the others. I mean there weren’t that many! He finally said “Anything they said I would have said. I guess, I’d say one more thing. Quit talking about your kids so much when you preach.” I didn’t think I’d talked about them that much, but I made a commitment then that I would not talk about my kids as much when I preach… But I didn’t say anything about my grandkids!

This [picture on the screen] is six year old Zion. Last week, I was in their home, and this is the message I’m preaching from, John 11 and particularly verses 25 and 26. And my son said, “Oh, all the kids have memorized those two verses! I got them to memorize it for the Easter season.” I said, “Really?” And Zion popped up right next to me. “I can quote it to you, Papa…” and he did! He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” And I leaned in towards Zion and I said, “Zion, do you believe that?” And he looked at me, and he said, “Well, why would Jesus lie?” That’s what he said. What a great response! Why would Jesus lie? It’s a rhetorical question. God don’t lie. Amen?

So hear, this. Jesus is the resurrection and the life! If you will believe in Him… which means you recognize that you’re a sinner cut off from God, that Jesus died for you and rose again, you place your faith in Him, you repent and you turn to Him… “Whoever believes in me, though he die, (‘cause we do die… right? — we just don’t have to die with fear anymore) “yet shall you live! And the one who lives and believes in me will never die.” So I ask you, do you believe this? If you have never believed it, then believe today on Easter Sunday, on Resurrection Day. Place your faith in the only One who ever defeated death and brought life into reality, real life. Do you want that kind of life? Let’s pray together.

Our Father in heaven, thank you for the resurrection of Jesus, and thank you for all the ways in which he demonstrated his power and authority over death and life again! Lord, we believe that the very existence of resurrection power resides in You! You died for us and you live again for us so that we would never have to fear death. We could rejoice in our sins being forgiven and celebrate this day with a real resurrection party! I pray for those here, Lord. There are people in this room. There are people watching online… that do not know you. You know who you are. How about today? God loves you! He doesn’t have to prove that to you anymore! He loves you! The resurrection will change your life! It’ll change the way you’re looking at all the things that disappoint you right now. Some of you have suffered some serious losses in this world. You’ve lost a spouse. You’ve lost a friend. You’ve lost a job. You’ve lost some dream… and you’re hurting! God says to you, ‘I love you! I’ve proven that to you through my Son and his death and resurrection will change your heart and give you purpose like you’ve never had it before.’ If that’s what your heart is saying right now, say, ‘Lord, I want this. I want this! I want my sins to be forgiven. I want to know your Son. Will you forgive me for my sin? Will you come into my life and save me?’ Would that be your prayer? And for the rest of us who really do know You… Rejoice! He is risen! We pray these things in the name of the risen One Himself, even the Lord Jesus! And all God’s people said, ‘Amen!’ let’s stand.


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