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A Resurrection Promise

Key References: John 11:1-44; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; The Desire of Ages, chap. 58, pp. 533-536; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 9, pp. 22-27; Our Beliefs nos. 25, 26, 9

Power Text

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Power Point

Jesus gives us new life today and for eternity.

Did you hear about the man in New York City who offers to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to a rich tourist? When the tourist can’t decide if he wants to buy, the man adds the Titanic to the deal! Of course, it’s a hoax. Doubters say the resurrection is a hoax too. Yet Lazarus’ resurrection proves the contrary.

Mary kneels at Jesus’ feet sobbing. Mourners who have followed her are also weeping. A great sadness settles upon the Master; He begins to weep. He weeps for the sisters who cannot understand what He is about to do. He weeps for all people everywhere, past, present, and future, who grieve. He weeps for the doubting Pharisees who pretend to mourn, but who will soon plot to kill both Jesus and the newly resurrected Lazarus. He sees clearly that their rejection of Him ensures their forever death after the judgment. So Jesus weeps.

“See how He loved him!” some of the Jewish leaders murmur, thinking that Jesus is just missing His friend.

Then Jesus gets up and moves toward the tomb. He stands outside the cave in which Lazarus’ body has been lying for four days. Earlier this day Jesus has claimed to be “the Resurrection and the Life.” Meanwhile He has promised that someone who believes in Him will live, even though they die. He has prepared the people for a miracle.

Scanning the crowd of people who have now all gathered expectantly, we see the sad sisters, Mary and Martha, beside Jesus. Around them stand Jesus’ disciples. Sad relatives and proud Pharisees surround them. Confidently Jesus waits to resurrect His friend, but the weeping and wailing have taken center stage. A hush falls over the mourners as the crowd looks toward Jesus.

“Take away the stone,” He says.

Martha’s mouth drops open; her eyes widen in horror. “But, Lord,” she gasps, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” The thought of putting the decomposing body on view humiliates Martha. For a moment her pride stands in the way of Jesus and the blessing she most desires.

“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Jesus gently reminds her.

So they take away the stone. And Jesus lifts His face toward God. “Father,” He says, “I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent me.”

The Pharisees, some of whom were standing there at the tomb, have accused Jesus of using Satan’s power to heal. Besides, they did not believe that Jesus was God’s Son. This resurrection will prove that His claims were true.

Everyone can clearly see the cold, silent form lying there. Nobody questions whether or not Lazarus is dead. Nobody moves a muscle. Then Jesus stands tall, His face glowing with light from heaven.

“Lazarus, come out!” He calls loudly. The crowd waits breathlessly, not wanting to miss anything. A shudder of life stirs the body in the cave. Suddenly Lazarus stands at the door of the cave, wrapped tightly from head to toe.

“Take off the grave clothes and let him go,” Jesus says, giving the onlookers a chance to help. (See John 11:36-44.)

As the bandages come away, Lazarus, strong and healthy, gazes into the eyes of His Lord and friend and smiles. Suddenly the crowd erupts in celebration. The sisters call their thanks to Jesus and turn to welcome Lazarus, their dear brother who was brought back to life. Jesus slips quietly away. When they look for the Lifegiver, He is gone. Is resurrection a hoax? Just as surely as Lazarus was raised, and because Jesus died and was raised, in Jesus we have the assurance of salvation, of resurrection, and of an eternal life with Him.