Sunday, March 31, 2013

[Matt's Messages] "The Cure for Death"

“The Cure for Death”
Resurrection Sunday
John 11:25-26 :: March 31, 2013

Well, we all know that on a Sunday when we have a baptism, that I’m just the opening act for the main event.  Amen?

In just a few minutes, we’re going to hear from three different people who are going to tell us their stories of faith in Jesus Christ, and then we’re all going to have the privilege of witnessing their baptisms together.

But before we do that, we need to hear a word from God’s Word.

And that word will come from the Gospel of John chapter 11, verses 25 and 26.

It’s a familiar story, one of my favorites, probably yours, too. And it takes place just a little bit of time before the events of Holy Week, the week we have been living in these last seven days.

You probably know the story. I had the privilege of telling it recently at Buggar Orwick’s funeral, and I tucked it away in my mind then to return to here on Resurrection Sunday.

Jesus had a friend named Lazarus who got sick and then died.

And his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was deathly ill, but Jesus did not arrive until after Lazarus had already died.

He had been dead for four days, in fact, when Jesus arrived in Bethany.

Lazarus was dead.

And as you know, medicine has found no cure for death.

We recently introduced our children to the movie, The Princess Bride, where Billy Crystal’s character so memorably says that the hero is only “mostly dead” and gives him a pill that brings him back to life.

But that’s only funny to us because we know the truth.

If you are dead, you are dead.

And Lazarus’ sister, Martha, when she heard that Jesus was coming ran out to meet him and said, (v.21), “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

She answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

And here is our verse for today.  What Jesus said to Martha. V.25

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

This week, I was reading an article by David Powlison about hospital visitation.

Dr. Powlison writes, “A pastor friend was talking with me about visiting church members in the hospital. He commented, ‘I have noticed an upswing in how often other visitors treat me with noticeable disdain or suspicion.’ The derision and eye-rolling do not come from the patients he visits or from medical staff. It comes from the family and friends of other patients. He will strike up a friendly conversation in the elevator or waiting room. When the other party finds out that he is a pastor, the room turns chilly, and the person makes some verbal or non-verbal sniff in his direction. In effect, ‘Why on earth are you here? What good can you do? Yeah, right…. Religion is a joke.’”

“But my friend has come up with an effective way to disarm scorn and open up the possibility of a significant conversation. With a twinkle in his eye, he says, ‘You know doctors lose every one of their patients in the long run… but some of my patients live forever.’”

Modern medicine is wonderful thing. I’ve very thankful for it!

But medicine has not discovered a cure for death.

And I don’t think they will.

However, the Lord Jesus says that He is the cure for death.

Listen again to what He said to Martha:

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

Jesus claims to be the cure for death.

He actually makes two amazing statements here.

They are part of the seven “I Ams” in the gospel of John.

He says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

“I am the resurrection” and “I am the life.”

And I think he explains what He means by that in the next two sentences.

“I am the resurrection.”  “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

“I am the life.” “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

Let’s take those one at a time.


That means that there is no resurrection outside of Him.

He is the personal source of resurrection. He is where resurrection is found.

In other words, He brings the dead back to life!

Jesus is the cure for death.

And on that day, Jesus gave a foretaste of what that means.

He stood weeping before the tomb of his friend and shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”

And amazingly, that’s what happened!  V.44 says “The dead man came out.”

And he was alive again.

“I am the resurrection .... He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

That’s amazing. That’s breathtaking. That’s almost unbelievably good.

Because you and I are going to die.

All of us. The mortality rate is nearly 100%.

But Jesus says that if you believe in Him, even if you die, you will live.

Because He is the cure for death.

That’s what these baptismal candidates believe. They have put their faith in Jesus and expect to be resurrected even if they die.

In fact, that’s what their baptism illustrates.

As they go back down into the water, they are identifying with Jesus in His death, and as they come up out of the water, they are identifying with Jesus with His resurrection and they are proclaiming that Jesus IS the resurrection and will bring them back to life some day.

“He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

Jesus is the cure for death.

And that’s because He is the life.

Jesus didn’t just say that He is the resurrection, but also that He is life.

And by that, He means eternal life, spiritual life, true life, not just physical life.


I think he explains what that means in the verse 26.

“Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

I think that “lives” in verse 26 means eternal life.

“Whoever has the ‘life that I offer’ by trusting in me will never die.”

Eternal life. Spiritual life. Abundant life.

“Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

He just said that some people will physically die. Most of us will unless we’re part of the generation alive when Christ returns.

But if we live in Christ and believe in Christ, we will have a life that never dies.

Doesn’t that sound good?

That means that Jesus is the cure for eternal death.

So that whoever believes in Him will not perish eternally but have everlasting life.

And the key question is what He asks Martha in verse 26, “Do you believe this?”


And I believe that He is asking us today.

Do you believe?

Because if you don’t believe, the opposite is true.

You have no resurrection (not to eternal joy, at least) and you have no life, no eternal life.

Do you believe?

Do you believe that Jesus is the cure for death?

Both physical death and spiritual death?

You’d think that the people who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead would have believed. And some of the did. V.45 says that many put their faith in Him.

But verse 46 says that some went and told on Jesus to try to get Him into trouble.

And because of this, the Jewish religious leaders called a meeting to make plans to do away with Jesus.

And that’s exactly what happened.

When they got their chance, they had Jesus arrested and then judged and then scourged and then mocked and then crucified.

And Jesus died.

The man who claimed to be the cure for death experienced death Himself.

But when He did, He took all of our sins with Him!

And they died, too.

So that if we put our faith in Him, our sins are forgiven, paid for, gone.

And then on the third day, in John chapter 20, Jesus rose again.

Up from the grave, He arose, with a mighty triumph over His foe!

Christ Is Risen!
He Is Risen Indeed!

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

Jesus is the Cure for Death.

For all who believe.

Do you believe?