I. I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
All of our pain has a story behind it. ASH is the aftermath and residue of fire. Some people’s fires are their own fault; others are caused by another. Whether the fire is started by our own sin or error or the deliberate act of another against us, the ashes can bring dysfunction and bitterness–or new dreams can rise out of painful ashes. God offers Himself as a solution, not a 5 point planner for change and success.
He did not say, “I am the possessor of the life”; He said “I AM the Life.” Our deliverance OUT OF THE ASHES lies not in what He does, but Who He is.
Jesus is the answer to everything–every question, every need. For example, He is not just our financial advisor, but He is our Provider.
John 11 tells the story of the resurrection of Lazarus. Let’s walk through the story together.
A. A fire has started
1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair.[a] Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
Jesus is a real person who had friends whom He loved. He had an inner circle of friends, in which Lazarus, Mary and Martha were included. He hurt when they hurt, and wept with them even while He delayed coming to them for a higher reason.
B. Jesus sees beyond the fire.
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
He is not limited by being reactionary to the emotions of the moment. He sees long term. He knows the end from the beginning; and His thoughts and plans are deeper and more far-reaching than we can begin to imagine.
C. Jesus moves toward the ashes after the fire seems to have ended everything.
8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people[b] in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” 12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin,[c] said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” 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[d] 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.”
Jesus saw beyond the stark and painful reality of Lazarus’ death to his recusitation and resurrection. He sees far beyond what we see. He moves toward the ashes after it all seems to be over. Martha still had faith present in her, shown in the fact that she talked to Him about the “ashes”. She had a conversation with God even in the depths of disappointment. She knew Him well enough to realize that He loved her, even in the midst of her confusion regarding why He had not come sooner to their aid.
D. Jesus is the Answer
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.[e] 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?”
While looking upon the ashes of death, Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. Death lay in the tomb. Life stood outside the tomb. He called Martha–and He calls us–to believe even in the presence of stark evidence to the contrary. He is the Answer!
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him. 30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,[f] and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” 38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
Sometimes our practical nature can prevent us from even seeing the possibility of a miracle. To Martha and Mary, death was final; but to Jesus, it was not.
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
Jesus shouted. We can pray like He prayed. He does not speak timidly to resurrect things. If Jesus had not used the name of Lazarus in his command to come forth, every dead person would have had to obey His powerful command.
Then He commanded, “Unwrap! Don’t live in the ashes!” We are equipped by our faith and our life in Him to speak the name of Jesus and call others out of their ashes!
Jesus calls us to listen to a new voice—the words that He is speaking to our situations, our ashes.
Is Jesus calling your name?
Don’t just hear—COME OUT!
Let’s pray together.
“Lord, we ask that we would be able to see with the eyes of faith that You are standing right beside us, weeping with us, at the scene of our fire. When there are ashes and death all around, help us to look at YOU, not at the scene. Help us to believe. We stand there with You right now looking at the ashes of __________________________________(fill in the blank). We see you weeping with us. We hear Your shouted command to come forth, live again. We know that You have a very personal interest in the things that are on our minds. We choose LIFE over death, standing here with You. We wait to see how You will bring new life, hope, healing, or purpose from our ashes, whether we caused the fire, or someone else’s actions did. We trust Your timing, Your methods, and Your heart in this. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
Let’s go forth trusting Jesus as our great I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE, and apply the Word from Isaiah 61:1-4 to our own mission as we walk with our Lord.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.”