I AM: The Resurrection and the Life

Good morning and welcome to Journey Church.  My name is Phil Human and I’m a pastor here at Journey and I’m so glad to worship with you this morning.

This morning we are talking about changing our perspective – they say perspective is everything.  And if you have the wrong perspective it can really warp what you think is real.

For instance – there is this thing in photography called a forced perspective.  Fisherman know what this is all about because if you’ve ever caught a fish you push it toward the camera and it looks like you’ve caught a real doozy!  But if you changed the perspective you’d see it wasn’t as big as it looked.

This man is not ingesting a rainbow.  No is he regurgitating one.   Though it looks like he could be.

This lady does not have a horse head.  if you changed your perspective you’d see that is a Horse with a human body.  .

I came across other examples – like this one.  It would appear that this dog can shoot fire out of its mouth.  Dogzilla!  Which would make him an outdoor dog only.

Does this man really have four arms?  Probably not but If he does I hope he is the goalie!

Is this really a picture of a two-story pigeon?  Yes it is – and that guy might want to keep his head on a swivel.  That’s dangerous.

Perspective is everything.  A change in your perspective can change the picture entirely.

This morning we continue our summer series on the I AM statements of Jesus.  Jesus told us a lot about himself and his work and his relationship to us through a series of I AM statements – I AM the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate and the shepherd.  And today we are going to see a spectacular claim that will change our perspective about life and death, literally.

We find it in the book of John, chapter 11.  The context:  Jesus had been alerted that his friend Lazarus was gravely ill, and required his immediate attention.  Yet, although Jesus was nearby, he took more the two days before he set off to heal Lazarus, and by the time he arrived Lazarus had been dead for four days.  And Lazarus’ two sister, Mary and Martha, were grieving, and they might also have been just a little agitated that Jesus tarried – they felt he wasn’t there for them when they needed him, and that his timing was all off.

Maybe you’ve felt the same way before?  Ever felt God’s timing stinks?  Mary and Martha felt that way, and Jesus is about to show them that his timing is never off.

17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem,19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss.20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

The resurrection of Jesus changes everything we thought we know about Jesus and death and life.  It changes our perspective.  And perspective is everything.

This morning we will see how the resurrection of Jesus changes our perspective in three important areas.  The resurrection changes everything!

The resurrection changes the way we look at Jesus.

The resurrection of Jesus changes the way we look at death.

The resurrection of Jesus changes the way we look at life.

First – let’s talk a little bit about the meaning behind the meaning of these I AM statements that we haven’t yet studied.   To fully understand the power and significance of these I AM statements – we’re going to have to go all the way back to Exodus chapter 3.

Exodus is the second book of the bible.  The people of Israel, by this time, had become slaves in Egypt.  And after 400 years of slavery, God raises up Moses to deliver his people from their captivity.

It’s at the famous burning bush where God introduces himself to Moses and tells him – Moses I’m sending you to Egypt to tell Pharaoh to set my people free.

Moses asks a valid question – These people – the Israelites – they will want to know who is sending me – what shall I say?  Am I supposed to say – the bush sent me?

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

Exodus 3:14 God replied to Moses, “I AM who I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”

God simply says – call me I AM.   What is he telling Moses?  I am not caused.  I am Self existent.  I am simply because I am.  I never was.  I am.  I will not be – I am.   I do not exist – I am existence itself.  I depend on no one – everyone depends on me.

This name became so holy to the Israelites that they refused to say it or write it.  The Jews knew there had never been a more profound revelation of God than that – and they refused to utter it, out of respect.

Fast forward now about 1500 years or so – and one day Jesus is having a go-round with the religious leaders and Jesus springs this on them regarding Abraham – the father of Judaism.

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”  57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!”

What is Jesus saying about himself?  He is God.  He and the Father are one.  Before Abraham was- Jesus is.  He is telling these people and us – he doesn’t have a beginning.  He is beginningless.

And in case you thought the crowd missed what he was saying…

59 At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

They knew.  Jesus claimed to be God.  And they didn’t know whether to crown him or kill him.

And he would have been chalked up to history as a megalomaniac leader of a failed rebellion – had not something happened to show the world that he really was exactly who he said.  And that something was the resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus forces us to render a verdict.  Jesus is not just a teacher.  He is the eternal God who took on flesh in order to take our place on the cross we deserved.

And through faith in Him, we can be forgiven of our sins and begin a new life as a new kind of human being.  But it requires that we render a verdict.

We face the same decision they faced in John 8 – will we crown him or will we kill him?

Those are our options.  He is either dead to you and you to him.  Or he is life itself.  And we turn to him to lead and guide us through life.

The resurrection changes everything.  It changes our perspective of Jesus.  And when we choose to crown him?  To make him the Lord and King of our life?  We will enter into an abundant kind of life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

But wait, there’s more.  The Resurrection of Jesus changes our perspective of death.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”

Let’s talk about DEATH, shall we?  Want to talk about DEATH?  Is that the last thing you want to think about?  You wouldn’t be alone.

Some people – the way they deal with death is t pretend it isn’t coming for them.  They just ignore it.  They don’t want to talk about it.  They don’t want to hear it.  LALALALA.  I’m going to live forever!

No you wont.  And that reality causes some to be terrified of death.

Others try to make is nothing.  Death is as natural as life.  It’s a friend we need to embrace.  It’s a natural and beautiful thing.

But no – it’s not.  We intrinsically understand that death is an enemy.  And we jog and do aerobics and take vitamins to try to stave it off…  Because we know it’s an enemy.

So how then do we live knowing that death looms?

Here’s where Christianity gives us the best philosophy of how to deal with death.  It helps us understand death in a way that allows to live in it’s shadow without being frozen with fear and anxiety.

Christianity tells us that death is an enemy.  We know it on the inside – death is an enemy – not a friend.

But more importantly, the bible teaches us that death is a defeated enemy.

This is a picture of Mohammed Ali- after knocking out Sonny Liston 1 minute and 44 seconds into the first round in 1965.  This picture is one of the most iconic sports photographs ever snapped.  Not only has Ali defeated his enemy in a rout, but here he stands over his defeated foe and taunts him – shouting at him to “Get up and fight, sucker!”

But it’s not the greatest taunt ever recorded.  Want me to read to you the greatest taunt ever recorded?  We find it in the book of 1 Corinthians 15. 

55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
 

57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Who on earth can taunt death?  The Apostle Paul.  And you and me.  We are the Mohammed Ali in that picture.  Standing over death as a victor through Jesus.

Why?  Because of the resurrection.  Death gave Jesus its best shot and yet could not keep him in the tomb.  Jesus broke the chains and strolled out of the tomb – because he is the resurrection – and promises that to us as well.

Death is an enemy, but it’s a defeated enemy.  It cannot win.  I’m thankful for Timothy Keller for turning me towards this poem this week, written in 1633 by George Herbert.

Chr.    ALAS, poor Death!  where is thy glory?

Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting?

Dea.  Alas, poor mortal, void of story!

Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.

Chr.    Poor Death! and who was hurt thereby?

Thy curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.

Dea.  Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die;

These arms shall crush thee.

Chr.    Spare not, do thy worst.

I shall be one day better than before ;

Thou so much worse, that thou shalt be no more.

If Jesus tarries, one day we will die.  And the bible says that our spirit will be separated from our bodies for a time.  We will live as disembodied spirits in the presence of the Lord.  To be absent form the body is to be present with the Lord – 2 Corinthians 5:8

But we will not stay that way.  One day Jesus is going to return again to fix, finally, once and for all- this broken and shattered world.  And we will be resurrected.  Our spirits will be re-united with new and improved bodies.  This is that the bible promises.

Let me ask you – are you afraid of death?  Don’t you see that faith in Jesus gives us the ability to stick our tongues out at death?

Jesus is the resurrection.   Spare not, death.  You are a defeated foe, sucker!  Jesus has torn down all your banners.  One day I shall be better than before.  And you shall be, no more.

How can this be?  Because our King Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”

And this changes our perspective of Jesus.  It changes our perspective of death.

And finally this morning.  3.  The resurrection changes our perspective of life and living.

When speaking of the resurrection – the temptation is to think of it as something off in the distance – something that will someday occur.  We think of life after death.

But what about today?  Is the resurrection not for today?

Do you think the great I AM left heaven to live and die and be raised to life to leave you adrift in this kind of world, without hope for change, and real change, right now in your life.

No!  He came to bring you an abundant life.  An exciting journey – with God, for God and through God.

Jesus hasn’t come to just make us fully alive in the future.  Right now – a different kind of life awaits you through faith in Jesus.  Jesus brings dead things back to life within our soul and our life.

Romans 811 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

The resurrection changes the way we think about life, today, right now.  There is power available to us to become the kind of human beings we always dreamed of becoming.

And I’ll ask you the same question Jesus asked Martha… Do you believe this, Martha?”

Do you need to know the power of the resurrected Jesus today in your life?  Is there an area in your life where you feel dead?  Is there an area in your life – a stubborn sin, an ancient lie, a recent failure –

Is the Father of lies whispering to you, that you’ll never change?  That is a damnable lie.  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you!  Bringing you life today.

Stick your tongue out at the devil.  Go ahead.  Because let me tell you – death isn’t the only defeated foe in the house.  Satan’s day is coming too.

Ask Jesus to bring the power of the resurrection to your soul, and ask Jesus to bring the pain to whatever is standing against you.

Jesus is the resurrection – and a resurrected life is possible today.  Do you believe him?  Will you trust him?