In John, Chapter 11, Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead. John 11 is one of the famous ‘I am’ chapters in John’s gospel. It is in this chapter Jesus makes the claim to be the resurrection and the life. It is always good to remember when we are looking at Jesus we are looking at God. Jesus’ attitude and actions toward death are God’s attitudes and actions toward death.
Jesus reveals God’s attitude toward death in John 11 in three ways. First Jesus tells his disciples that their friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. Jesus uses the same term in Mark 5 when the synagogue ruler’s daughter had died. We experience death as something permanent but apparently Jesus does not. Jesus, being the resurrection and the life talks about death in different terms. When he is on the scene he becomes the cosmic alarm clock. If death has put someone asleep, the resurrection and the life will come and wake them up.
Jesus is angry at death. Twice in John 11, verses 33 and 38 it says Jesus was deeply moved. The Holman Christian Bible gets the translation right by saying he was angry. Jesus is angry at death. Life not death is God’s plan. Sin and death are violations against God’s will and Jesus is angry that his friend Lazarus is dead. One of the reasons we hate death is in our created selves we know deep down it is wrong. People were created to live not die.
Jesus has compassion on the loved ones. John 11:35 says Jesus wept at the sight of his friends grief. Jesus is fully God and fully human. We see in this one short passage the heart of God in compassion and how Jesus the man expresses that with tears. Just as anger is an appropriate response to death so is sadness and compassion to those most affected by it. God has become a man in Jesus, so God knows what it feels like to hurt and be hurt. He understands and literally has lived our sorrows.
Finally God’s answer to death is not resignation but resurrection. “Lazarus come out” are some of the most exciting words in the New Testament. What a great dramatic seen as this mummy emerges from the cave. A short time later Jesus himself will come out of a tomb and all history will be changed. As we put our faith in him, the resurrection and the life comes to us. Resurrection life, or as John calls it eternal life starts now, and even death, as ugly and wrong as it is cannot stop it.
See you on Sunday!
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?”