Bible Study Notes – March 2018

This is the third stand-alone edition of the short Bible Study Notes, which have hitherto been attached to the Newsletter. It is hoped that these provide a regular and helpful contribution to the congregation’s knowledge of Holy Scripture.

THE “I AM” STATEMENTS OF JESUS

PLEASE READ THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 11:1-46

This month we examine these words: 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 believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Of all the “I am” statements of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, this must surely be the most arresting and thrilling. Were one to say these words to
oneself, or apply them to any other human being on the face of the earth they would sound absurd. But coming from the lips of Jesus they are not only credible; they are magnificent, full of power and hope. Why is this so? In this world people in politics and leading roles in society make statements all the time, in the media. Often, and quite correctly, these statements are received with a significant degree of skepticism. One simply cannot trust the statements, perhaps because the person making them lacks credibility, and often because the statements are inherently flawed. Examples of this are legion and need not be dwelt upon here.

When we look at Jesus, however, we see that He carries out what He says. If we read on to verses 43 and 44 we hear the Lord Jesus calling in a loud voice for Lazarus to “Come forth”. What happened in that stifling tomb which should have reeked with the stench of decaying flesh? We cannot begin to guess or imagine; but we know this, that the power of death over Lazarus was overwhelmed by the greater power of the Son of God, who by His word alone called life into the body of a dead man and recalled his soul to its erstwhile home. As we think on this we might remember how Adam was created from dust, and given life by the very breath of God. It is the same God who creates life and has the power to command life over death. Why? Because He himself is Life. That is what our text says: I am the Resurrection and I am the Life.

The apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians 1:15-20 says this of Christ: He’s the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (see Note below) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and in him all things hold together, and he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

{Note: This does not mean that Christ is part of creation. Careful exegesis of both the Old and the New Testament demonstrates that the meaning here is rather that Christ has pre-eminence above all creation. And this is borne out by the rest of our text. As the Nicene Creed states He was begotten, not made; of one being with the Father}

But why did Jesus carry out this miracle? You will notice as you read the whole of this story that when Jesus was informed of the sickness of his friend
Lazarus, he actually delayed setting out! We can see that this deliberate slow progress to Bethany was for a purpose, for we read in verse 4, Jesus says:
“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it”. So this is part of the answer – that the Son of God might be glorified.

Is this the only reason? No, this miracle, wherein a man who has been dead for 4 days, lying in the tomb, is resurrected – brought back to vibrant life, is clear proof of the divinity of our Lord. Who can bring back life to a corpse save God almighty? Would such a miracle not persuade the most ardent skeptic that Jesus was who He claimed to be? You would think so and indeed many believed we are told, in verse 45, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. There is always a “But”. And nothing has changed to this day. In our efforts to persuade people of their need of a Saviour; of their need to repent and be delivered from sin; of their need to lay hold of Christ by faith and experience the joy of sin forgiven and a new life and purpose in Christ, we often lead folk to the very point of believing – then there is a “But”. That is when we realise that no one can bring life to a dead heart but God Himself. Only the power of God the Holy Spirit can change the heart. Only He can bring a soul to see its need and persuade it that Jesus is the only answer to their sickness of soul.

How can we know that Jesus is the only answer? Because Jesus himself, went to the cross of Calvary. There He gave His life to die for his people, as a
substitute for them, so that their sin might be laid on Him., and the righteous judgment of God might be carried out on Him instead of us. But here is the thing. Though He died on the cross, and they placed Jesus in a tomb, and sealed it with a great stone, death could not hold Him. On the third day He rose from the dead proving His sacrifice was sufficient to atone for our sin. Remember the words we read last month when we considered the Good Shepherd:

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. John 10:17,18.

Dear reader, Jesus Christ laid down his life for poor helpless sinners like you and me; he did it willingly, yielding himself utterly into the hands of evil men to pay the price of sin. They took Him and abused Him and crucified him. The Jews and the Romans did that but it was for you and me He died. BUT the glorious truth is that He rose from the grave and is alive today. Our text for this month posed a question- “Do you believe this?”. I pray that all might be enabled to answer “I do – with my whole heart”.

 

David Beveridge