I Am the Resurrection and Life – John 11 – Part 1

Today we look at life and death and afterlife.  In today’s passage out of John 11, we will see two ladies, Mary and Martha who felt hopeless and angry.  Their brother Lazarus was sick and dying, but Jesus did not go to help.  Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus but did not help them when they expected it. This is an interesting picture of Jesus, someone who doesn’t immediately take us out of our situations. Maybe you’re a little uncomfortable with that image. But there was a reason, which we will see.  Jesus eventually came through for Mary, Martha and Lazarus and He will come through for you.  Like Mary, Martha and Lazarus we too need to know that life and faith will be difficult.  They needed Jesus to help them through difficult times and we will too.

I NEED JESUS BECAUSE…

Sickness And Death Will Be A Part Of My Life

1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha…3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”

There are many questions that immediately come to mind when we read through chapter 11 of John.  Why was Lazarus sick? Why did Jesus wait two days after hearing Lazarus was sick? Why did Lazarus have to die? The questions are endless.

And so are the questions we often have as we go through our own type of difficulty and dillema. The “whys” of life can drive you crazy.  

Understand that Jesus loved Lazarus. The Bible is very clear on that. Jesus loved him, but Lazarus was sick! You can be a friend of Jesus and still be sick! You can love Jesus and still be sick! That’s pretty clear in the scriptures. The love of God does not exempt one from sickness or sorrow or physical death.

Our sickness could be a number of things: physical, emotional, mental, family problems, and so on. Sickness can be termed as “that which causes any area to be infected with imperfection.” Here on earth human nature is infected with imperfection.

Even If He Delays Helping He Is In Control So I Should Keep My Faith

5 Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them. 7 Finally after two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”

  17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.

Jesus waited two days before he came to help.  John says “finally!” he goes.  When your waiting on God to answer a prayer, for Jesus to help you it seems like forever.  When he does help you may feel like saying “finally!”    It says in verse 17 that “when he arrived Lazarus has been in his tomb for 4 days” 

Have you noticed the attitude of Jesus as he heard the news of Lazarus’ sickness? He knew that Lazarus was dying but it didn’t seem to affect Jesus at all. He just kept doing what he needed to do. Jesus wasn’t upset in the least for he already knew what was going to happen when he reached Bethany. He already knew that there were no impossible situations and that his power to bring about a resurrection was not limited by any circumstances.

I think it would help us greatly to realize that our seemingly hard or impossible circumstances are nothing to God. His power transcends our trouble. His power is not limited by our faithlessness or our hopelessness. Jesus has resurrection power and he cannot only bring victory when we haven’t given up hope, but he is just as able to bring us the victory after we have long given up hope.

When it seems that our finances have already died and the stink is beginning to arise; when it seems that our health is completely gone and the doctors have given up on us; when it seems that God has waited too long and the stink of our unbelief, distrust, and hopelessness rises; that’s when Jesus is ready to show His power and glory in us.

When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, the family of Lazarus was long past having hope. Lazarus was already dead, buried and his grave was sealed.  One of worst lies we can believe is “it’s over and there is nothing that God can or will do about it now.” It could come from our own disbelief or from the enemy’s whisper.  If he can get you to give up on God, then the he has accomplished his goal.

That should be our first indication that God isn’t finished with us yet because the devil can’t speak the truth, therefore we should realize that God’s answer is still coming in his own time and in His own way. Just keep on trusting and having faith in God.


Perhaps your prayer seems that it will never be answered. We find ourselves in distress over finances, relationships within the family, and any number of things and it seems that God has turned a deaf ear to your cry. Things have gone from very bad to much worse and now there is no visible way to make things right.

You are wrapped up in doubt and fear. Your faith is blinded; your hands and feet are bound up from working for the Lord.  A stone of unbelief has been rolled across the door to your heart and has now convinced you that your attitude, your heart and your life stinks to God so it’s time to quit and walk away. You are shrouded in a tomb of darkness and your spiritual grave is sealed and your life is over and hopeless.

Here are some signs that this sickness is happening.   The first thing that happens is that I get stinking thinking. I start the blame game, blaming everything and everyone else for the sin in my life.

I will blame my own lack of spirituality on the church saying that “I can’t feel anything anymore” or that “the Spirit isn’t moving in this church.”

Then I get “excusitis”, and find a multitude of reasons why I can’t or won’t serve the Lord. Then I find it hard or impossible to talk to about the things of God.   Next is swelling.  I swell up with pride, anger, frustration, or a bad spirit.  By now more than likely they have already began to draw back from everyone in the church and to walk away from the place where there is encouragement and hope. My spiritual life is decaying rapidly!   Finally I bury myself in my own life, working, kids, home, etc. and it’s as though the church no longer exists for me. The stink of sin is easy to see in my life! The stench of hopelessness and doubt emanates from me and it’s very hard for others to stomach my attitudes when around me. I am sick and dying spiritually and relationally and the stone has been rolled in front of my tomb and sealed.

Why does Jesus let us go so far before he comes? Why must we sometimes get so deep into our trouble and our attitudes begin to stink before he comes to our rescue?  Jesus wants us to know that it’s not in our power to overcome our problems and our own sinful hearts. That power must come through “His Resurrection Power” It will come in his time and in his manner.  But we must remain hopeful, not bitter.  We should be pleasant not stinky. 

Jesus arrived in Bethany four days after they’d buried Lazarus. Martha greeted him first, and told him, Lord, if only you had been here YOU could have saved him. And Jesus said: “Lazarus will rise again.” Martha knew enough about Jewish theology to know that one day, all the graves will open and the dead will rise from them. She said: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the dead.”
Martha wouldn’t be comforted, I know about the resurrection — but that’s so far off. Jesus then uttered the basis for all history’s hope and direction – “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!”

What a claim! Jesus claimed to be in charge of everything, life, death, the afterlife and everything between. 

Death is the great equalizer in life. We may all have different lives, come from different backgrounds, experience different joys and sorrows, but the one thing that links all mankind together is death. We are all going to die.

Some of the questions that mankind has tried to answer about death are:
Is death the end? Is there life after death? Why is there death?  Will we live again?

With Him, Even Death Is Not The End

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?”

What did Jesus mean? How could His words help Martha in her time of loss? How can the words of Jesus help you in your time of loss? What comfort can Jesus’ words give you, even today, as we say goodbye to loved ones?


Well, Martha knew that things would be better someday. The resurrection, that sweet by-and-by, that hope of seeing her loved one again someday. She had a hope that things would be OK someday. Jesus said, “I am that hope. You’re waiting for the resurrection to give you hope? Well, I am the resurrection. I can give you hope. I am the promise of a better day. I am who you need to get you through this. I am the promise of things being better someday.”
You see Jesus is our hope. He is our only hope of surviving death, because He is in control over it. He is the resurrection. That word means “alive again.” That is, even when life hits us hard, when the scariest thing in the world attacks us, the thing we have no control over, we can trust in Jesus, because He has the power to make us alive again.
And Jesus went on. He said He was the resurrection. Then He said He was the life. Well, what did He mean? By saying that He was the resurrection He meant He is our only hope of surviving death. So, by saying He was the life, He meant that He is our only hope of getting through our days now. He is the hope for tomorrow and the strength for today. He will help us survive death, and He will help us survive life as well. Sometimes life is hard. But Jesus said, “I will help you if you ask.” There is nothing that life throws at you that you and Jesus can’t handle together.
But it requires trust in Him. Jesus continued speaking to Martha: “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” This hope of eternity comes when we place ourselves into God’s hands. But this strength for today comes when we keep placing ourselves into God’s hands. We will remain strong only as we continue to trust in Him.
To comfort the grieving, hurting Martha, Jesus reminded her that He is the lord of the living and the dead. He is master of death and life. You can commit to Him your eternity and your today’s. He is in control of whatever happens to us.  And He also wants to remind you that He can give you strength and hope until the day your name appears in the obituaries. I want us to see how Jesus deals with each of our needs in very specific ways. 

According to our personalities and needs Jesus meets us differently.  In our passage we see Jesus enter the scene and Martha, the same Martha that we read about in Luke 10 that was too busy to sit down and listen to Jesus rushes out to meet Jesus first.  She is a go-getter she goes out to meet Jesus and has questions, she raises theological issues, she needs to vent, and she needs some answers.   There is no mention of Martha pouring out her soul in His presence. No mention of that happening with Martha but with Mary it was a different story, wasn’t it? For Mary she was more emotional, she was a crier.  We will see what Jesus does in the next post.

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

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I AM – Gospel of John Introduction

I_Am_posterWe all long for peace, security, and fulfillment. Denying that we have those needs is pointless. Trying to meet them in unhealthy ways is counterproductive. And languishing in frustration when those needs are not met is unnecessary, because God has a better plan. Jesus came to tell us about Himself. We can find our satisfaction in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Through Jesus we can find peace, security, and fulfillment—everything we need. He is the great “I Am.”

Dates      Titles                                     Scriptures
April 4 – I Am the Resurrection and Life (John 11) EASTER
April 11 – I Am the Bread of Life (John 6)
April 18 – I Am the Good Shepherd (John 10)
April 25 – I Am Way, Truth & Life (John 14)

May 2 – I Am the True Vine (John 15)
May 9 – I Am the Living Water (John 4) Mothers’ Day

John’s purpose for writing the gospel: “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31).

John’s 2 questions for the reader to wrestle with: 1. Who is Jesus? 2. What do I do with his words/teachings?

“I AM”

OT Background: Exodus 3:1-20, especially verses 13-18. (cf. Is. 41:4; 43:10-13)
NT fulfillment: John 8:58

When God calls Himself the “I Am” in Exodus 3, it’s a pivotal moment in redemptive history. God reveals Himself to His people and comes to redeem them out of exile and lead them into a new life. God’s name discloses who He is and what He is like. He is the I Am, the eternal, unchanging, self-existent one, infinite and glorious in every way, and above and beyond all created things. He is God.

When Jesus applies the title “I Am” to himself, he claims to be God (John 8:58). Not a helper to God or a great teacher, but the divine, eternal, pre-existent, infinite, perfect Being. He is Israel’s God. He is greater than Moses because he is the God of Moses. He has life in himself and he can give life to us.

I hope that you can join us for our new series, “I Am” Jesus in His Own Words

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

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Enough Rebellion – Numbers 16

Rebellion involves knowing what God wants me to do and refusing to do it.

Some notorious historical figures might have remained anonymous if they hadn’t tried to grab on to more than they could hold. But by refusing to be content with what they had, and by trying to get more than they deserved, they ended up with nothing. Korah, one of the Israelite leaders, was one such person.

Korah was a Levite who assisted in the daily functions of the Tabernacle. Shortly after Israel’s great rebellion against God (Numbers 13-14) (or see the last post) Korah instigated his own mini-rebellion (Numbers 16:1-2).

Korah was the ringleader of the coup. He was a Levite and, interestingly, a cousin to Moses. Their fathers were brothers. Three other brothers of the tribe of Reuben were also ringleaders: Dathan, Abiram, and On. Korah was from the Kohathite clan. The Kohathites and the tribe of Reuben camped on the south side of the Tabernacle, camped side by side. Living close together and being friends and co-leaders gave them ample opportunity to sit around in the evenings grumbling, murmuring, and sharing their complaints and disappointments.

Korah recruited a grievance committee and confronted Moses and Aaron. Their list of complaints boils down to three statements (Numbers 16:3-4): (1) You are no better than anyone else; (2) everyone in Israel has been chosen of the Lord; (3) we don’t need to obey you. It is amazing to see how Korah twisted the first two statements—both true—to reach the wrong conclusion.

  • Rebellion reveals deeper problems.

Whenever you find complaining and rebelling among God’s people, there’s usually a “stated reason” and a “hidden reason.” Korah’s public complaint was that Moses and Aaron were “running things” and not giving the people opportunity for input. He wanted more democracy in the camp. After all, the Lord dwelt in the entire camp and all the people were “a kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:3-6), so who were Moses and Aaron to elevate themselves above everybody else? The hidden reason was that Korah wanted the Levites to have the same privileges as Aaron and his sons (Num. 16:10). Korah wasn’t satisfied to be assisting the priests; he wanted to be a priest.

Korah and his associates had seen the advantages of the priesthood in Egypt. Egyptian priests had great wealth and political influence, something Korah wanted for himself. Korah may have assumed that Moses, Aaron, and his sons were trying to make the Israelite priesthood the same kind of political machine, and he wanted to be a part of it. He did not understand that Moses’ main ambition was to serve God rather than to control others.

Like Korah, we often desire the special qualities God has given others. Korah had significant, worthwhile abilities and responsibilities of his own. In the end, however, his ambition for more caused him to lose everything. Inappropriate ambition is greed in disguise. We should concentrate on finding the special purpose God has for us instead of wishing we were in someone else’s shoes.

Note the reaction of Moses: he fell face down, seeking God (Numbers 16:4-11). How long he stayed upon his face seeking the Lord is not stated. But falling prostrate apparently so startled the rebels that they temporarily held their peace, somewhat backing off until he arose from the ground. Note that Moses did not lash out nor retaliate against the rebels. When they first confronted him face to face, he simply fell prostrate to the ground—in great meekness and humility—and took the matter to the Lord.  This is a great lesson for us as well; when confronted with bad news, or argumentative people, we should go to the Lord in prayer first.

When Moses got up, he responded: 

They were the ones who had gone too far. He used their own charge against them. They were guilty of abusing and trampling underfoot God’s call to them to serve as Levites (Numbers 16:8-9). They had personally been given the privilege of being set apart to serve God and His people. This should have been enough: they were already leaders and servants of God, appointed to lead God’s people as directed by Him. They were guilty of seeking the priesthood itself—seeking a much higher position that should come only from God, never from selfish effort.  Numbers 16:10-11

They were revolting against the Lord Himself!  (Numbers 16:11)       

  • Rebellion is ultimately against God.

When Jude wrote to warn the early church about false teachers, he used Korah as an example, pointing out that he “rejected authority and spoke evil of dignitaries.”  (Jude 5-11).

The test Moses proposed was a simple one. If Korah and his men were indeed priests acceptable to God, then let them bring their censers to the tabernacle and see if God would accept them. Surely the rebels remembered what happened to Nadab and Abihu when they rashly brought “strange fire” before the Lord (Lev. 10), but even this warning didn’t deter them.  The next morning, Korah and his followers showed up with their censers and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance of the tabernacle, while Dathan and Abiram stood with their families at the doors of their tents on the south side of the tabernacle. God showed his displeasure with the rebels as the earth opened up and swallowed them! (Numbers 16:32-35)

Korah’s story of rebellion gives us numerous warnings:

  1. Don’t let desire for what someone else has make us discontented with what we already have.
  2.  Don’t try to raise our own self-esteem by attacking someone else’s.
  3. Don’t use part of God’s Word to support what we want now, rather than allowing its entirety to shape our worldview.
  4. Don’t expect power and position to be an end all; God may want to work through us in the position we are now in.

The selfish desire for greatness and authority is a common theme in Scripture, whether it’s Korah opposing Moses and Aaron, Absalom defying his father (2 Sam. 15), Adonijah claiming the crown (1 Kings 1), the disciples arguing over which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:23-25), or Diotrephes loving to have preeminence in a local church (3 John 9-11). And yet the most important place in the Christian life is the place of God’s choice, the place He’s prepared for us and prepared us to fill. The important thing isn’t status but faithfulness, doing the work God wants us to do. Every member of the church, the body of Christ, has a spiritual gift to be used for serving others, and therefore every member is important to God and to the church (1 Cor. 12:14-18).

  • Rebellion must be replaced with submission.

Whether it’s the ancient camp of Israel or a modern city, no society can function without subordination. Somebody has to be in charge. Parents have authority in the home, teachers in the classroom, managers in the factory or office, and civil servants in the city or nation (Rom. 13; 1 Peter 2:13-25). When this kind of order breaks down, then society is in serious trouble. God places us in families, churches, communities, countries and all of them have people who the responsibility to lead, manage and we must submit to the authority God has placed over us.

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

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Sources:
Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible – Commentary – The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – Numbers.
Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – Pentateuch.
Life Application Study Bible.
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Enough Doubt – Numbers 13

Doubt is a lack of confidence or assurance that God will keep His promises.

Today we examine Numbers 13. This chapter tells about a crucial event in the history of Israel. And I believe it is relevant to us because the way they reacted in doubt is too often the way we react today.

This is the story of Moses & the people of Israel as God freed them from their slavery in Egypt & led them to the border of the Promised Land. When they arrive, God gives the command, & Moses tells the people, “It is time for us to go in & take the land which God has given us.”

But first, he chooses 12 men – one from each tribe – & tells them, “Go & spy out the land. Observe the people, their cities & fortifications, & their produce. Then come back & tell us what the land is like.”

So these 12 men take off & spend 40 days spying out the land. When they come back they reported, “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” (Numbers 13:27)

God was right! “We looked at the land & it is exactly what God said it would be. But from that point on, their report was no longer unanimous. They were divided 10 to 2, & the majority begins the rest of its report with the word, “But“.

Have you ever noticed how often the word, “But,” is used when we don’t want to do what God is asking?  “I know you said this God, but.”  “I know your word is clear on this, but.”

That is exactly what was happening here in verses 28-33 where their report continues: “But the people who live there are powerful, & the cities are fortified & very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses & said, ‘We should go up & take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’

John Gardner said, “We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” A faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted, and God tests our faith to help us make sure it’s genuine.

  • God places regular tests of faith before His children.

But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ . . . ‘All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the descendants of Anak there. . .’  ‘We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, & we looked the same to them.'”

Oh, no, the majority is recommending they disobey God!  Why?  Doubt that expresses itself in fear, worry and anxiety.

Caleb & Joshua, even though they are in the minority, urged the people to do what God wants them to do. They argued, “If God is leading the way, then why should we be afraid?”

  • Doubt sees obstacles, faith sees opportunities.

After all, look at the miracles God had already done on their behalf. He had sent the plagues upon Egypt & forced Pharaoh to let them go. He had divided the waters of the Red Sea, & then closed those waters upon the chariots of Egypt.

He had given them water in the desert when they were thirsty, manna when they were hungry, & quail when they wanted meat.

God had been with them all through the wilderness. He had led them with a pillar of cloud by day, & a pillar of fire by night. They had even heard His voice in the midst of the thunder & lightning & smoke on Mt. Sinai.

After witnessing so many miracles, why did they stop trusting God? Why did they refuse to enter the Promised Land when that had been their goal since leaving Egypt? They had fear and doubt. Often we do the same thing. We trust God to handle the smaller issues but doubt his ability to take care of the big problems, the tough decisions, the frightening situations.  He brought me this far and won’t let me down now. We can continue trusting God by remembering all he has done for us.

But sadly, ten of the spies were so afraid that they were not willing to obey God.

“We are not able” is the cry of doubt (Num. 13:31), but, “Our God is able” is the affirmation of faith.

Vs. 31-32 says that “they spread a bad report” among the people, and each time they told it, their description was exaggerated, misrepresented or flat out lies.  When our eyes are on ourselves and our circumstances, we lose our perspective and say and do ridiculous things.

And in vs. 33 they say, “We saw the descendants of Anak there!”  The “descendants of Anak” were a race of abnormally large people. The family of Goliath may have been descended from these people.

These 10 spies are saying, “We don’t stand a chance because there are giants – fearsome warriors – in the land! Everywhere you go there are giants!” They saw themselves as grasshoppers. They saw the enemy as giants. And they didn’t see God at all!

The negative opinion of 10 men spread doubt among the people.

  • Doubt is contagious.

Because it is human nature to accept opinion as fact, we must be especially careful when voicing our negative opinions. What we say may heavily influence the actions of those who trust us to give sound advice.  The ten spies spread an evil report among the people. They exaggerated and distorted the truth. They became stumbling blocks to Israel. Scripture is clear: we are not to be stumbling blocks, not to cause people to stumble and fall.

Now let’s apply this to our lives today. To the children of Israel, the Promised Land represented their future. And God gave them the opportunity to go in and start a new life.

As you look into the future, what do you see? Do you see giants, or God?

There are crises in our world, a crisis in the family, a crisis in morality and a crisis in government. Integrity and morality has been shoved aside. We are a people living as if there is no God.

Those are some of the giants we face. But as we look into the future, I think that sometimes we become so overwhelmed by the giants that we are like these 10 men, & we think that there is no way we can take the land.

But if there has ever been a time when our world needs Christians who care about people who are hurting, who will reach out to a lost & confused world, who will live out and speak the simple Bible message without compromise, now is that time.

We must not retreat. We must not be intimidated. And don’t ever forget, our God specializes in slaying giants. David slew Goliath. So what do you see when you look into the future? Do you see giants, or do you see God? God is bigger. No obstacle is too big for God..

Finally, as you look toward the future, where are you going? Isn’t it amazing how short a memory the children of Israel had? For over 200 years they had suffered as slaves in Egypt, & complained bitterly to God about it.

So God heard their cries, set them free, & led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. But now they’re afraid to go in. And they’re saying, “Maybe it would be better if we went back to Egypt.” What???   How sad, how defeating!

  • Doubt can lead to despair.

For some people they would rather suffer in what is familiar than trust God in what is unknown. They were ready to give up their freedom & become slaves once again, just for a measure of security.  Our security is in God.

What do we do if we are gripped with doubt?

  • Doubt must be replaced with faith.

If your life is in the wilderness, if you feel doubt, then Jesus Christ is the one who goes before us!  He conquers the giants of death and sin.  Jesus Christ is the one to deliver us from bondage and take us into a growing relationship with Him, a promise land that starts now: a life of faith, with growth and struggles, but leads to victory and ultimately heaven.  It all starts with faith in Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8   

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

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