Friday, January 29, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 31, 2016

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THE DEATH OF A FRIEND
(This life is not the final act of the human drama)
(John 11:1-44)

   The sins of Adam and Eve ushered into the world, “physical death”. By contrast, the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS, offers into the world, “spiritual life”. “I AM the RESURRECTION and the LIFE” is the fifth of JESUS’ seven great “I AM” statements that are found in the Gospel of John.
    The resurrection of CHRIST marked the start of a new age in human history that is still present today, because JESUS is still LORD over all of life, both the physical, and the spiritual. When we accept the cup of salvation that JESUS offers, the end of physical life becomes the beginning of a much more anticipated spiritual life of eternity in Heaven in the glorious presence of the ALMIGHTY GOD.
    In the gospel according to the Apostle John, in chapter 11, taking up at verse 17, we see JESUS arriving at Bethany some four days after HIS friends, Mary and Martha, had summoned HIM by messenger. They had sought JESUS out to tell HIM of the declining health of their brother Lazarus, who was also a close friend of JESUS’. They had wanted JESUS to hurry to Bethany so HE could heal their brother from what turned out to be a fatal illness.
    The day that JESUS got word of Lazarus’ illness, HE informed HIS disciples that the illness would not result in a permanent demise, but rather, would be an event staged by GOD for HIS OWN glorification. And so they lingered on where they were for two more days before making the two-day journey to Bethany, just a few miles outside of Jerusalem.
    When Martha got word that JESUS was near, she ran down the road to meet HIM. When she came to HIM she said to HIM, “LORD, if you had been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that GOD will give YOU whatever YOU ask”.
    Here we see in this statement by Martha, that, even in the short time since JESUS had begun HIS ministry, it had already become quite noticeable that nobody ever died while HE was around. It is a statement that was later echoed by her sister Mary, as soon as she came upon JESUS at the burial site of her brother Lazarus.
    We, as Christians, are all too well familiar with the ending to this, now famous, biblical account of what was then considered to be, JESUS’ greatest miracle. “I AM the RESURRECTION and the LIFE” is what JESUS said to HIS friend Martha in John 11:25. For JESUS is LORD, over both, the “physical” and, the “spiritual” life. Our belief in HIM infuses in us a spiritual life that will persists, even after death. That is why the greatest miracle of JESUS was not raising Lazarus back to the physical life, because we all know that, Mary and Martha’s brother would again die. The greatest miracle was, and is, in JESUS’ power to grant endless spiritual life to those, who believe in HIM. JESUS goes on to tell Martha that, “those who believe in HIM, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life, just for believing in HIM, and will never die. And HE then asked HIS friend, “Did she believe?”
    In John 11:27 Martha makes what I consider to be, one of the great “confession statements of faith” in all the annals of New Testament biblical history. Here she states, “I have always believed YOU are the MESSIAH, the SON of GOD, the ONE WHO has come into the world from GOD”. Here she confesses three things about JESUS that are paramount to our understanding the theology of Christianity.

·         First, we must understand that JESUS is the MESSIAH, WHO died on the cross at Golgotha for our sins.
·         Secondly, we must know that HE is the SON of the LIVING GOD, and the most precious thing that GOD could give us as a sacrifice, simply because HE so loved the world that HE created.
·         And finally, we must know that JESUS is the only ONE WHO was qualified as a perfect sacrifice, which is GOD’s unwavering requirement for sin.

    Salvation for us was the reason that GOD sent HIS only begotten SON into the world. JESUS had to be born of woman, so that HE could die for all mankind in general, and all Christians, in particular. This story of JESUS’ raising Lazarus from the dead, back into the physical life, presents us with a perfect picture of what JESUS does spiritually for all who choose to believe in HIM. But in our case, we will be raised into a spiritual eternal life, never to die again, as Lazarus would later do. And we will live in the very presence of the ALMIGHTY GOD in Heaven, as no doubt, Lazarus now is. We will be forever removed from the deadness of sin in this life, and placed into an eternity of love and joy, with CHRIST JESUS our LORD, in the life to come.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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