John 11:25-26

Sermon preached on October 23, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

In the town where Marg went to university there was a very old graveyard that we would occasionally walk through. One of the gravestones had an epitaph that surprised us. It read,

"Remember me as you pass by,Where you stand now, so once stood I. Where I am now, soon you will be. Prepare for death and follow me."

Death is powerful. Some people believe that death is the greatest power in the world. It's a power that cuts down people and ends all their earthly dreams, hopes and aspirations. Death is a horrible reality. Some people are cut down in the prime of life. Other people are destroyed just when they've achieved all that they've worked for. They've spend years working to achieve some goal and just when it's in their grasp, or just when they achieve it—they die. Some are cut down by death when they're still in their mother's womb. We'll never know about what they could have achieved because death has taken them. Children die, either through disease or accidents. Those things are such tragedies. Parents, grandparents and siblings are all devastated. Their lives are changed, there's a sadness that never leaves.

Speaking personally, I wish I could go hunting or fishing with my grandfather one more time. If I did, it would be different than any other time. I'd ask him so many questions about his mother and father, about his grandparents, about what it was like when he was growing up. But I can't go with him one more time. I've missed my opportunity. He's gone. Death as taken him.

In the last 150 years or so life expectancy rates have been rising and this has led some people to predict that in the future people will live hundreds or even thousands of years. But not long ago I read a news article how researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have concluded that 115 is the ceiling. A few may live to be a little older, but basically 115 is about the limit. The author of the study described aging as the accumulation of damage to DNA and other molecules, which, by age 115, becomes too much. They person dies.

According to people like him, eating healthy foods, exercising and having access to good medical care can, in many cases, delay death. But it will eventually come, almost certainly before 116. You can't stop it. I find it interesting that in Genesis 6:3 the Lord said, (ESV)

"My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh:
his days shall be 120 years."

Yet some people hope to cheat death. I've heard of companies that will freeze people's bodies, or even just their heads, in the hope that in the future science will be able to revive them and help them live again. That is so freaky. But even getting past that feeling, it seems to me that people who pay money for that are like the people in the old west who paid money for snake oil.

In the Bible death is referred to as an 'enemy'. (1 Corinthians 15:26) But death is not the greatest power in the world. Here Jesus says that He is the resurrection and the life.

The first thing we should see from this is that

Jesus declares that He has completely overthrown death.

He said,

"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, by virtue of His person and work, has completely and thoroughly defeated death. He has complete authority and power over death. In Revelation 1, when John saw Jesus, blazing in His glory, John fell at His feet as though dead. Jesus placed His right hand on him and said, (Revelation 1:17–18)

"Do not be afraid.
I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One;
I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!
And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

In our text, even though Jesus is speaking before His death and resurrection, He is pointing Martha to result of His completed work. Indeed, the raising of Lazarus is but a little preview of the resurrection at the last day. Lazarus resurrection points to the great and glorious resurrection that believers will experience when Jesus comes again. Jesus is the resurrection.

A resurrection is a bringing or coming back from the dead. John Calvin tells us that Jesus puts this statement first,

"because the restoration from death to life naturally comes before the state of life…"

Jesus words point us to a great truth.

What human beings need is to be restored to life.

Without Christ, human beings are dead. Some non-Christians would object to this description of them. If you go around telling people that they're dead when they're walking around, breathing, thinking—it's to be expected that they will object and deny it.

But even the world sometimes uses expressions like that. For example, in the 90's there was a movie called,

"Dead Man Walking"

I've never seen the movie so this is not a recommendation. But I did read a summary of it. It's about a man on death row. He's still alive, but he's about to be executed. He's a dead man walking. There was another movie called,

"Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead"

It's the same idea. It's about people who are physically alive, but they're as good as dead. I remember one dramatic scene from an old black and white movie, I think it was called, Dead on Arrival, or DOA. The main in that movie was poisoned. But I think the poison took 24 or 48 hours to kill him. There was no antidote for the poison and he was facing certain death. During that time he had left alive he was trying to find out who had poisoned him. If my memory is right he was basically unaffected during that time. I remember he was telling someone a murder had been committed, and they asked who had been murdered. He replied, "Me!".

Jesus even spoke this way. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, when the son returned home, his father said, (Luke 15:23–24)

"Bring the fattened calf and kill it.
Let's have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.'"

Elsewhere in the Bible deadness is used to refer to the spiritual state of sinners. With human beings, in our natural state, we are dead spiritually. In Ephesians 2:1–2 Paul told the Ephesian Christians what they were like before they came to Christ.

"As for you, you were dead
in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live
when you followed
the ways of this world
and of the ruler
of the kingdom of the air,
the spirit who is now at work
in those who are disobedient."

Before they came to know Christ, the Ephesians were dead. Because of sin the spiritual life of human beings in their natural state is one of 'deadness'. Our sin has separated us from God. After they sinned Adam and Ever were driven out of the Garden of Eden and were, in a very real sense, alienated from God. As we read in Colossians 1:21,

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies
in your minds because of your evil behavior."

Thus when Jesus said that He was the resurrection, He was telling Martha that it was through Him that people receive new life.

What this means for those of you who are not Christians is that as your are, you don't have life. You're dead.

You're one of the walking dead. You need this new life. You need to be resurrected. You need to be given spiritual life.

You can't make yourself alive, you need Jesus to give it to you. He is the resurrection and the life. You need God to make you alive with Christ.

We this clearly from Ephesians 2 which began by telling the Ephesians that they were dead in trespasses and sins. It continues, (Ephesians 2:4–5)

"But because of his great love for us,
God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions—
it is by grace you have been saved."

The great news is that human beings can be resurrected. Because Jesus rose from the dead we can be made alive with Him. Colossians 2:13 tells us the same thing,

"When you were dead in your sins
and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,
God made you alive with Christ.
He forgave us all our sins,"

The teaching in our text is similar to what Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3:3–8. We read,

"Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.'
'How can a man be born when he is old?'
Nicodemus asked.'
Surely he cannot enter a second time
into his mother's womb to be born!'
Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth,
no one can enter the kingdom of God
unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Flesh gives birth to flesh,
but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
You should not be surprised at my saying,
'You must be born again.'
The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from
or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'"

In Jesus we can pass from death to life. As He said in John 5:24,

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word
and believes him who sent me has
eternal life and will not be condemned;
he has crossed over from death to life."

Jesus has conquered the power of death. There is hope for you. Jesus can deliver you from death. The great curse of sin can be defeated.

This is the greatest news in the world. There is hope for the human race. There is hope for you. Jesus can give us resurrected life. Go to Him today.

Secondly, we see that

Jesus is the life.

"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?"

James Montgomery Boice paraphrases Jesus' words this way, (John 9–12, p. 852)

"He who believes in me, even though he should die physically, yet he will live physically [that is, there will be a final resurrection]. And whosoever is spiritually alive and believes in me shall not die spiritually."

Jesus came to give us new life. Jesus came to give us life, life to the full. (John 10:10)

Put negatively this life is consists of freedom from the slavery of sin, freedom from the oppression of Satan and freedom from the curse of sin—eternal death. Put positively, it means life to the full, life consisting of fellowship with God, able to enjoy His presence— a life of joy, contentment, satisfaction, a life that is safe and secure forever.


what hope you have. Rejoice in it!

In 1 Corinthians 15:51–57 the apostle Paul wrote,

"Listen, I tell you a mystery:
We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound,
the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality,
then the saying that is written will come true:
'Death has been swallowed up in victory.'
'Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?'
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ."

How glorious our eternal life will be with Christ. Revelation 21:4 describes the new age that will be ushered in when Christ returns. It says,

"There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away."

We will be with God, in complete security, complete joy. It's all because Jesus is the resurrection and the life.