Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Ressurection of the Dead

You believe that God created you, and just as you came from God, so to God you will return. All of you know your bodies will change and deteriorate. This is the way it was for my friend whose name was James back in Seattle. He experienced cancer for the final year of his life. During that year he lost 75 pounds. When I visited him in December just two days prior to his departure from this earthly life, I almost did not recognize him because he had lost so much weight.

Religious leaders throughout history have offered different solutions to this problem of death: 1) Buddha said that through meditation and focusing your mind on spiritual things, you can escape this bodily existence and experience God. 2) Ghandi said that if you simply do good to those who hate you and do not take revenge, you will find favor with God. 3) Mohammad said that if you pray five times a day, memorize the Qu’ran, and keep God’s law there is a good chance God will grant you paradise, but it is not certain. 4) Today, America tells you that you came from an ape, do not have a soul, there is no God, and that when you die you will simply deteriorate eternally in a coffin forever beneath the earth. Or better yet, you will be cremated and that will be the end. All of these answers do not give a satisfactory solution to the problem of death and the grave.

A man named Jesus Christ from the first century gave a different answer. He did not give some teaching for you to follow in order to gain favor with God. He also did not say that there was no hope beyond the grave. To a woman named Martha whose brother Lazarus had just died He proclaimed: “I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Wow! Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth, a man that truly had flesh and bones, claimed that there is life after physical death, and that by believing in Him you will have eternal life—bodily! Next he asked Martha: “Do you believe this?” And this was her response: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Just as Martha had faith that Jesus could raise her brother to life, so too through faith in Jesus Christ you will be raised to life when He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Because He lives, so also you will live. Because He was raised to life, so also you will be resurrected from the dead.

And just as Jesus asked Martha, do you believe this? So I ask you today: Do you believe it is actually possible for God to raise you from the dead after you die?

After Jesus asked Martha this question he showed her that what He was claiming about Himself was actually true. Her brother Lazarus had been laying dead for four days, and Jesus raised him back to life! People who did not believe in Jesus knew that it was true because they saw Lazarus at the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The man was eating with Jesus at His table! The Pharisees wanted to kill Lazarus because they knew that Lazarus was dead before. But now he was alive!

I pray Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that as you created this world out of nothing, parted the Red Sea, and made man from the dust of the earth; I pray that we would also bring us who have trusted in you back to bodily life. Just as you fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures by sending your Son, Jesus Christ into the world; so also I pray that all of us may be anticipating eternal life by faith in you when you come again in glory to raise the dead to life. I pray Lord that those of us who have believed in you will experience resurrection and live with you and in you forever!

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