The Cross – bringing Life out of Death.
Luke 8v40-56; Luke 7v11-17; John 11.
One of the strange things about us human beings is our ability to convince ourselves that our circumstances are not are bad as they really are.
We see this in the realm of health – some people told they have a serious illness and yet live in denial.
In the criminal mind – some commit crimes yet plead innocence – and believe they are even when presented with the evidence.
In the area of relationships – partners / spouses who are unfaithful yet are reluctant that they did anything wrong.
When we come to the spiritual arena we tend to do a similar thing. In the quest to find meaning and purpose in life we invent all kinds of philosophies to try and make sense of life.
In the ancient pagan world – the life of the gods influence our world and if we please and appease them we will be okay.
In our modern world science seeks to give us explanations.
Even in the religious world – Christianity included – we have a view of God which we have built up that says, “If we do certain things / perform certain rituals like going to church and praying then God will, indeed, is obliged to look kindly upon us.
None of us would try to pretend we are perfect – we all know we are not as good as we should be. Things we have done that we shouldn’t have and things we have failed to do.
We can sometimes fall into the trap that says, “If you just clean up your act ten you will be okay!”
However, we are not simply spiritually sick and need remedy to make us better. Nor are we just a little wayward and need to be reformed.
The problem is that remedies and reforms are of little value to a corpse! The Bible makes it quite clear that by nature we are spiritually dead.
Eph. 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
In that state we don’t need remedies or reforms or even religion – what we need is life and only God can do that!
Ephesians 2:4-5 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. (NIV)
When Jesus was on earth he raised many people to life – Matthew 11:5 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. (NIV)
… but only three are mentioned by name.
- Jarius’ daughter – a 12 year old.
- Widow of Nain’s son – probably a young person.
- Lazarus – we get the impression he was an older man.
I. If these 3 characters teach us anything it is that death is no respecter of persons.
In the Bible death is often portrayed as a picture of sin – and so it is true that just as death comes to all so sin has had its effect on the entire human race.
Rom. 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
And the result is that all are spiritually dead…
Jesus raises each of these three back to life BUT what is interesting to note is the time delay between death and their being raised.
- The Little girl has only been dead an hour or so at the most.
- The young Lad – has been dead up to a day – he is raised from his own funeral ceremony.
- Lazarus has been dead for 4 days.
The question is, “Which of these 3 is more dead?”
That is a ridiculous question you say – they are all dead so what different does it make? EXACTLY.
- The little girl looked like she was sleeping – just passed away.
- The young lad was prepared for burial – probably …………… had started to set in.
- Lazarus – John 11:38-39 38 Jesus, …., came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.” (NIV)
They are all dead but in different states of decay.
Some are like the prodigal son who smell like a pigsty.
Others are like the Pharisees – the religious leaders of Jesus’ day – who look nice and clean and respectable but who are just as sinful and corrupt on the inside as any one else.
ILLUS.: In SA from our home in Durban – could drive a few miles north and get to Amouti – a squatter camp of 40,000 living in shacks and boxes – only one or two watering points. – we could drive a few mile south and be in a luxurious suburb with mansions – swimming pools, tennis courts and armies of servants. Educated / well-dressed / respectable citizens.
Whether a shack or a mansion – without faith in Christ – both are spiritually dead – and no matter how much one may try to disguise it with cosmetics and cologne there is still decay.
Romans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, …
There are no degrees of death only degrees of decay.
To be compared to someone else’s state of decay is to missed the point.
II. What a dead person needs most is life and Jesus is the one who can give life.
Spiritual life is a gift just as physical life is a gift.
John 5:26 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. (NIV)
How does Jesus impart this life? By his word!
John 5:24 24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (NIV)
In each of these resurrection stories that we are looking at Jesus spoke to the dead person.
1. The little girl. Luke 8:54 54 … he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” (NIV)
2. The young Lad. Luke 7:14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” (NIV)
3. Lazarus – John 11:43 Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (NIV)
In all of these cases Jesus speak with divine authority and gives life.
Doesn’t this remind us of god’s creative power in Gen. 1 “God said and there was …..”
We read in the letter to the Hebrews 4:12 12 For the word of God is living and powerful ….
It is through the Word of God that life comes.
And those who by faith receive God’s word receive life — 1 Peter 1:23 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Even in our lost state of being “dead in our trespasses and sins” we can still hear the voice of Christ as the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to show us our need and how God’s grace can meet that need.
Romans 10:17 17 So then,, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (NIV)
III. What is the evidence of Life.
In the case of all characters we are looking at it was plain to all who saw that they were alive – they did what living people do.
- The little girl got up from her bed – walked around and ate food.
If physical resurrection is an illustration of spiritual life hen Christians should be demonstrating their new life in Christ by their walk and their appetite.
Romans 6:4 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (NIV)
God’s children should be spiritually hungry for the word of God – we should desire the food of God’s word.
We are to hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Do you think about and meditate on God and his word as much as you think about your breakfast, lunch and supper – your tea and coffee breaks and all the snacks in between.
Are you reading and studying God’s word daily – on your own and with others? What is the evidence that you are spiritually alive?
- The Young Lad – he showed he was alive by sitting up and speaking.
When a person becomes a Christian there is a change of heart – he / she becomes new inside – spiritually alive and that should how itself by what we say, how we say it and what we do.
Matthew 12:34 For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (NIV)
What is inside will come out!
This new life will show itself by speaking truth and not falsehood. There are so many, many reference to our speech in the Bible.
Ephesians 4:25 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body. (NIV)
Colossians 3:9 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices (NIV)
This young man who was raised – what do you think he spoke about. His new car? His latest novel? The redecorating and extensions to his house? NO!!! I bet he spoke about the man who gave him his life back.
What do I talk about most – that tell me what is important to me!!
- Lazarus – he proved he was alive by coming to the door of the tomb even thought he was bound in his grave clothes.
John 11:44 Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (NIV)
People who have been resurrected by Christ – given new life will want to put of their grave-clothes and put on their ‘grace’-clothes.
Ephesians 4:22-24 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (NIV)
With all three of these characters who received life there was evidence that they were alive.
Let each of us ask ourselves, “Am I alive to God!”
1st – have I come to Jesus by faith and received his gift of spiritual life?
1 John 5:11-12 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (NIV)
He die so we could live – what a paradox!
2nd – if I have this life –
- What is the evidence?
- Am I concerned that others will have it too?
- Why do I come to church – to do my duty? For what I can get out of it? How much am I willing to put into the church and God’s kingdom – time, abilities and money – some people don’t like to talk about money but this too is a gift from God to be used for him!! Salvation is free – ministry is expensive!
By Faith Christ brings us from death to life – what value can you put on that? Jesus taught “Freely you have received” – in Christ we have all things – “Freely give” Of all that you are and all that you have!
41 … a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
(….Jesus was delayed by the crowd and a woman who he stopped to heal)
49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.”
50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (NIV)
11…. Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (NIV)
1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. ….
25 Jesus said …., “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…”
… [Jesus] was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
The Cross – bringing Life out of Death.
Luke 8v40-56; Luke 7v11-17; John 11v1-44.
|Jarius’ daughter –
12 years old
|Widow of Nain’s Son – Young lad||Lazarus –
An older adult
||– Rigor mortis||
Raised by Word of Jesus
|“My child, Get up!”||
“Young man, get up!”
“Lazarus, come out!”
|Walked around and ate food||Sat up and started speaking||
Walked out of the tomb