(3/31) I. Our Praise – Easter is Hope. Every year, your hear me say that this is the greatest day of the entire year. No other day has the significance of this day. This is the day in which our hope was declared a reality. This is the day in which death was defeated and eternal life became certain. What do you think of when you hear the word, Easter?
Do you think of eggs, chocolate, church, rabbits, or do you think of Heaven? I think of Heaven. I think that all Jesus promised us is true. I think that death has been defeated and I am forgiven. I think that I am a son of God with an inheritance, because in Israel there is an empty grave and the one who occupied it, after dying in one of the most horrible ways imaginable, is
alive. Church – He is Risen – (He is Risen Indeed)!
On this Easter morning, I want to take you back to a few weeks before Easter. All of our sermons this year come from the words of Jesus, as we will spend 52 weeks at His feet. Let’s go to John 11 and the story of Lazarus and his sisters. Though this took place a couple of weeks before Easter, this is one of the best places to stop and look at why we
need Easter. The events and recording of this story was intended to encourage us and to lead us to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. John the Apostle and author says this, " And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:30-31). The reason that Easter is so important is because (Houston, Emmitsburg) we have a problem.
II. Our Problem – Sickness – Death – original sin (vv.4, 14) When Paul wrote his letters, he reminded the churches of the results of what we call original sin. That is, the sin and the resulting consequences of the original sin of Adam and Eve, that has been passed down to every one of us. He said in Romans 5:12; "Therefore, just as through one man sin
entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." And to the Corinthians he said simply, "In Adam all die." (1 Cor. 15:29). Paul reminds us of the pain that plagues us in Romans 8:22-23, "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the first
fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 4:16 that the outward man is perishing, deteriorating, aging, dying, as it is subject to disease, and the horrible C word that we all dread, and then we die. Every one of us are destined to take a ride in the back of that
custom built station wagon called a Hearse. Our text in John 11:2-14 tells us that Lazarus was sick and that he would die.
III. Our Perception – God is silent, He doesn’t hear, He doesn’t care (vv. 2- 21) It appears that Jesus heard but that He was without compassion. He delayed going to Bethany. He was about 20 miles away, a good day’s walk away. But, He really didn’t need to go to Bethany. Remember in John 4:46-54 how He healed a nobleman’s son from a great distance.
Here the truth is that Lazarus was dead by the time Jesus got the news of the sickness. And our Lord knew that he had died. Remember the end of the story, Lazarus was already in the grave four days. He died the same day the messenger left to find Jesus, and since the Jews didn’t embalm, they buried the same day. The messenger took a day, Jesus delayed 2 days, and He traveled
the 4th day. He was dead when the messenger reached Jesus. Our text for next Sunday in Matthew 6:8 reminds us that God knows our needs before we ask, but there are times when it appears that He doesn’t hear and that He doesn’t care because He delays His answer, or He appears not to answer at all. Mary, and Martha, and the crowd that gathered all said in effect, He had the
ability, but He wasn’t there, and He didn’t stop the effects of the sickness. Ever watch American Idol? At the end of the results show, the person with the fewest votes has to go home. However, the judges can save that person for at least another week. So, he or she sings for his life and hopes that the judges will use their save, but when they don’t, I think, how
disappointing to know they could have saved me but chose not to. Sometimes we feel that way about God. He is able, He knows the need, but He doesn’t. Then we wonder, why? Is it me? Is it my sin? Do I lack faith? Is this really real or just a big illusion? Ever been there? Are you there now?
IV. His Passion – God loves His Children (vv.3, 5, 36) John intentionally lets us know that Jesus loved this family and everyone knew it. We know that they loved Him. We see that in the dinner they gave Him in Luke 10:38-42, and again in the next chapter of John (12). We don’t know if they were related or how they met, but we know they were close. I
think that John wants us to know that Jesus’ response did not mean that He didn’t love them, just as His delay or unanswered prayers doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you. In fact, the cross of Jesus, screams at us, just how much He loves us, and that there is nothing you can ever do that will change how much God loves you. Jeremiah 31:3, "The Lord has appeared of old to me,
saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you." Paul reminds us in Romans 8:35-39, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the
slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
V. His Plan – Glory (vv. 4, 40) Romans 8:28-29 reminds us that God is at work in all things, even our sicknesses, and even in our deaths. Our Lord told Peter in John 21, the death by which he would be able to honor God. What we don’t always see when our love one is the one who is sick or dying, is how God is using this for glory. He reminded the
disciples in John 9, that man born blind was not blind because of his own or his parents’ sin, but that the works of God should be revealed in Him. As we told you last week, the one who loves Jesus even if he or she dies, will behold His glory and will share His glory forever. Sometimes He lets us go through that valley that leads to death, so you can magnify your faith and
others will see and believe in Jesus and be saved. And though the miracle that Jesus is about to do may have hastened His demise, many people believed in Him (v. 45). Never forget that God has a bigger plan even when you don’t understand.
VI. His Person – He is The Resurrection & The Life (vv.17-25a) When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days and had been buried in a cave. There were many mourners there, indicating a couple of things. First, he and his sisters were probably wealthy, as the perfume used in chapter 12 suggests. Second, he was a prominent and perhaps a well-loved
person, indicated by the number of mourners, some that may have been professional mourners. Funerals for prominent people were often week long events of heavy grieving, followed by 30 days of lighter grieving. Notice verses 23 and 24. Whether it was from her heritage or the teachings of Jesus, Martha believed in the resurrection. Jesus had taught it, She may have heard Him
say as John 5:24-29 records, ""Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father
has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the
resurrection of condemnation. Martha believed that she would see her brother again someday but she didn’t think it would be today. Our Lord reminded her, and recorded for all of us so that we wouldn’t miss the point, that the dead are raised to life because Jesus is the One who raises them. He said, "I Am, I Am the Eternal One, I Am the One who Raises Life, I Am the One who
Gives Life, because I Am Life. There is no life apart from Jesus. All physical life, your present life, is because He gave it to you and He is sustaining you and no one can live forever in His presence unless they are connected to Him. He said in John 10:17-18, "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I
lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." This is one reason that the Muslim, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the good, the bad, and the unbelieving cannot have eternal life apart from faith in Jesus. He repeats this again in John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through
Me." Listen carefully, Just as He breathed into Adam the breath of life, He breathes in to every believer the breath of His Holy Spirit and gives life to everyone who believes. We will live forever because He lives in us by His Holy Spirit; He is our life, The Life. And to everyone who receives Him as Savior and Lord, He gives this promise:
VII. His Promise – The Dead will Live, and the Living won’t Die (vv. 25b-26). In John 14:19, "He says, because I live you shall live also." Listen carefully, He is not talking about going into limbo or going to sleep for a few years, As soon as the body dies the spirit departs and enters God’s presence, escorted by angels (Luke 16). Paul reminds us
that to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5) and to be with Jesus is far better than being here (Phil.1). There we will see His face and be forever with our Lord and all our loved ones that loved Jesus (1 Thess. 4:13-18). What He is talking about, is that these bodies will be raised and changed and you will be reunited with it. He is going to bring
back all the molecules from the ashes and dust, etc., and change it to be like Jesus own glorious body (Phil. 3:21). About 33 years old, no wrinkles, no limitations, no zits, no sickness, pain, decay or dying again. He also could mean that those who are dead in sins can have a new life, a purposeful life, a new start, a second or third chance, like Zacchaeus, Matthew, Peter
and Paul, and me and some of you. Jesus’ promise begins with a new life here and now no matter where you have been or what you have done. AND, whoever lives and believes in me shall never die, doesn’t mean that physical death won’t occur but that the believer will never be separated from God, ever. Physical death means instant presence with God as Jesus told the thief that
died with Him on Friday on the cross, Today, you will be with me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43). That is His promise and it is based on His person and the fact that there are some things He cannot do, like this, God not lie. Do you believe in Jesus? Not, do you believe about Jesus, but do you believe in, are you trusting in Jesus’ person and in what He did for you when He Died and
Rose again for you? For those of you who have not believed – I want you to see His pain:
VIII. His Pain (vv. 33-38) – He weeps, groans, and is troubled. Do you know that God feels emotions? He not only is able to love and hate, He feels grief, sorrow, and anger. Do you remember the Isaiah 53:3 passage that says, "He was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief."? Here in John 11, we see Jesus grieving and I believe He is angry. Not
because of Lazarus, because he knows what He is about to do and the response it will bring of joy and celebration. No! I believe with all my heart He is grieving because this scene is repeated thousands of times every day. Sin results in death which separates and tears people away from each other leaving holes in our souls as we lose children, parents, spouses, siblings,
friends, and other relatives. It has already been repeated in many of your lives at least once and for most of you it will be repeated several more times and each time it will tear your heart. He is grieving the pain that comes from the grief that you feel. He is weeping for the effects of your sicknesses which results from original sin. But He isn’t just grieving it, the
consequences of sin makes Him angry. See the word groaned in verse 33 and again in v. 38. It means, to snort like a horse. It’s to take a breath and let it out forcefully. The word Troubled, in verse 33, means disturbed. Perhaps He sensed disbelief or sarcasm in verse 37. Regardless, the results and consequences of sin in this world, grieves and tears at His heart and He so
much wants for you to be saved from it. I believe He sheds tears over every person that enters eternity without receiving His grace, and every Christian that refuses to follow the will of God. It grieves His heart and disturbs His soul. His joy is in what he does for everyone who repents and receives His grace, He raises us to perfection.
IX. Our Perfection – (vv. 39-44) What Jesus does with Lazarus in these verses is a picture, a foretaste of what is going to happen to us in the future. The one who laid down His life and took it up again on this very day nearly 2000 years ago is going to call your name and you will rise from the grave. The difference is Lazarus had to die again. Having
tasted Heaven, I am sure that death did not frighten him like it does many of us. His decomposing Body was made new and whole and when Jesus called His name he came out of that grave. Some sage said, if Jesus had not used Lazarus’ name, all the graves in the world would have emptied as they will in the future. First, when He calls the saved to glory, and second when He calls
the lost to the Lake of Fire in Revelation 19. My friends one of these days He is going to call my name and I will rise and I will be forever with my Lord and Savior. Will you? Listen to Paul as He writes to the church at Thessalonica, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For
if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and
remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
This was given to us in John’s Gospel to show that Jesus has conquered death. For the believer, Death has lost his sting, the grave has lost his victory. Jesus has conquered sin, conquered death and open the door to heaven for everyone who will believe and receive Him. Those of you who have received Him and believed in Him, rejoice in Him today and
know how much He loves you. The One who rose from the dead is the Resurrection and the Life and will raise you to be with Him.
X. His Plea – This Easter morning, I urge you to do one of two things. Rejoice in the One who was dead and is alive because he is the Resurrection and the Life and He has given you the promise of resurrection and life, or repent and receive His life and His promises today. Believe Him, Come to Him and receive His life today. The question of verse 26 is
the question for you. "Do you believe this?" This Easter Sunday, This Resurrection Day 2013 can be the day when your life and destiny are forever changed.
If this has spoken to your heart, write to me and tell me, or ask me whatever you want about knowing God or having a relationship with Him. firstname.lastname@example.org
Benediction – Hebrews 13:20-21, " Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you[d] what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman