BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday March 9, 2014
DEALING WITH DEATH
(The certainty of the resurrection helps believers to deal with death)
The sins of Adam and Eve ushered into the world, “physical death”, and by contrast, the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS, ushered 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 Eternal life that JESUS has to offer, 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. And so, in JESUS’ resurrection we also see the birth of the “Christian Hope”. Anyone who believes on JESUS already has “Eternal Life” (John 6:47).
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 sickness.
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 (v.4). 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 account 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 be. 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.
THE PLOT TO KILL JESUS
Although many of the people who witnessed JESUS’ raising of Lazarus from the dead believed on HIM, there were still others who sided with the Sanhedrin. A few of those unbelievers quickly went and reported this miraculous event to the high priests and Pharisees at Jerusalem. The news was so disturbing to the religious hierarchy that they decided to call an emergency session. They feared that the Romans would react in an adverse way to this news and possibly destroy the temple, and maybe even, Jerusalem.
Normally, the position of high priest was a lifetime appointment, but in those days, the Romans appointed the high priest to his position, because they feared the power a man could gain by holding a position of that magnitude in Jerusalem for life. At that time, Caiaphas was the appointed high priest of the Romans. He served that position from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36. It was Caiaphas, whom GOD used to unwittingly prophecy that JESUS was to die a sacrificial death for the nations (John 11:49-52). It was during that meeting that they officially issued an “All points bulletin” for the arrest of JESUS on sight (John 11:57).
At this time JESUS decided to remove HIMSELF from public ministry, and went to the town of Ephraim, about fifteen miles north of Jerusalem, near the wilderness of Judea. There HE began HIS exclusive private teaching of HIS disciples, which continued up until the eve of HIS crucifixion.
When the time of the Passover came, many arrived early to go through the traditional cleansing process before the feast began. At that time there was much talk around Jerusalem, and especially in the temple, concerning the whereabouts of JESUS. Some, no doubt, wanted to hear HIM teach there, as HE had normally done, but, rest assured, there were others, who wanted to report HIM to the Pharisees so HE could be arrested.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website