Fourth Sunday of Lent: "I Am the Resurrection and the Life"
Scripture: John 11:17-44
Our praise team led this service and used the following songs: "Celebrate Jesus," "Hosanna," "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High," "He Is Lord", "There Is a Redeemer," and "I Looked Up." All of them can be found in Songs for Praise and Worship (Word, 1992).
"And Can It Be That I Should Gain" PsH 267, RL 450, TH 455
Words of Assurance: Romans 6:1-10
Guide to Thankful Living: Romans 6:11-14
After waiting for Lazams to die, Jesus finally makes his way to see the grief-stricken sisters of his dear friend. The disciples are not excited about the idea of heading to Bethany for fear that they and Jesus will be killed. They narrowly escaped death during their last visit, and they do not want to give their enemies another opportunity. In obedience to Jesus, however, they follow where he leads.
When Jesus arrives, Martha goes to meet him and immediately states that Jesus could have prevented the death of her brother if only he had arrived a few days sooner. In fact, even now God will do whatever Jesus asks. While it is difficult to know exactly what Martha has in mind, it is obvious that her faith is there for whatever Jesus wants to do.
Jesus assures Martha that her brother will rise, and Martha assumes that Jesus is speaking of the end times. Jesus, however, has something much more immediate in mind. He says, "I am the resurrection and the life." I am the foundation of the resurrection. I am the hoped-for blessing of the future. It all rests on me. I have the power to grant life, and apart from me, there is nothing but death. Even now, death cannot keep Lazams from me.
Following this, Jesus asks Martha if she believes what he's said, and she confesses her faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. She makes the confession we need to make before we are granted life and resurrection through the power of Jesus' sacrifice. Following this confession, Martha runs to bring Mary to the tomb; Jesus approaches the tomb; the stone is removed; and Jesus calls Lazarus from death into life. Those standing around are so stunned at what they have just seen that they are unable to move until Jesus orders them to remove the burial clothes. Jesus proves that, while he does not cure on command, he is truly worthy of being called the resurrection and the life.