Our Need for Hope
Week of March 27, 2016
Bible Verses: John 11:17-27.
The Point: Jesus is the Resurrection who gives us life now and forever.
The Resurrection and the Life: John 11:17-27.
 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.  Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off,  and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.  So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
News of the death of a loved one has got to be among the hardest that anyone can receive. The range of emotions go from shock to sadness and in some cases even anger. Because we are all created the same the grieving process between believers and non-believers looks pretty much the same except for one exception. Because Christ has conquered death and the grave, and is “the resurrection and the life”, Christians experience a sense of tremendous hope. In our text we read how Jesus handled the news of His dear friend Lazarus. We also read how Jesus turns a funeral into an example of what is to come for all those who believe that He is “the resurrection and the life”.
Hope is yet another term that gets bantered about without much consideration of its implications. It is used as a term of temporal appeasement. Politicians might refer to themselves as the candidate of hope. In this context it sounds really good, but very little if anything is truly meant by it. This however isn’t the way in which Christians understand the term. In Christianity hope is legitimately substantiated by the person in whom the hope is being placed. Unlike an earthly politician who doesn’t truly have the means by which to make good on the hope that is invested in him; God can and does make good on the hope that is placed in Him.
Having said that we can now refer to our text and look at the hope demonstrated by Martha. The context is the death of Lazarus. In verse 20 Martha ran out to meet Jesus when she heard of His arrival. In verse 21 Martha confesses that if Jesus had been there four days ago her brother would not have died. It is true that Jesus authenticated who He was by doing miracles, and bringing someone from the dead is one such miracle that Jesus had the power to bring about. It is important to keep in mind here that Jesus is not in the business of conducting miracles to amuse or entertain like some cheap parlor trick often seen on television “healing ministries”. Jesus conducted miracles to show His compassion and to demonstrate who He was as the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament. So we see here Martha’s attitude of hope in Jesus and His relationship to God.
In verse 23 Jesus makes the simple statement “your brother will rise again”. Martha was quick to make assumptions about what he may have meant. She assumed in verse 24 that Jesus was referring to the beginning of the “tribulation”. Wait, that isn’t right. Perhaps she assumed that Jesus was referring to some time in the middle of “tribulation”. No, she doesn’t even mention the tribulation. She said she knew that her brother would rise again on the last day. Martha believed in the general resurrection. This is what is unique about Christianity. Our hope is eschatological which means that it is tied to the end when we are resurrected at Christ’s return. Much of the difficulty that we experience on a day to day basis is the result of a fallen humanity living in a fallen world. But our hope looks to the future with new bodies, new heavens, new earth, and eternity with the Lord of Glory. This is why Jesus says in verse 25, 26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”.
In verses 26 and 27 Jesus asks Martha for her affirmation when He says, “do you believe this?” The tendency is to shy away from asserting what one believes. However, asserting ones belief is a very significant practice for confessional Christianity. And Martha responds appropriately “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world”. What follows is what we know from reading ahead. After making this statement Jesus demonstrates what is in store for all those who believe that He is the resurrection and the life as he brings Lazarus from the dead.
This is the essence of Christian hope. It is putting our trust and faith into a God that promises and has the means to fulfill that promise of a future glory for all those who believe that He is “the resurrection and the life”.