Family Bible Study lesson for May 20: Experiencing Eternal Life
May 4 2001 by Catherine Painter , John 11:1-54

Family Bible Study lesson for May 20: Experiencing Eternal Life | Friday, May 4, 2001

Friday, May 4, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for May 20: Experiencing Eternal Life

By Catherine Painter John 11:1-54 Comedian George Burns joked months before dying, "I don't think I'll die - it's been done; besides, I can't - I'm booked in London." Perhaps you know the funeral director who signs his correspondence, "Eventually yours." Ministry takes Jack and me into death situations where we hear the age-old cry: "If only she'd seen the doctor earlier; if only he hadn't taken the wrong exit; if only they'd changed their smoke alarms." But God suggests "if onlys" be labeled more accurately, "God's will" (cf. John 11:4ff).

Affirmation of confidence (John 11:20-24) Martha adds her own variation to the theme: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (v. 21). She implies, "We needed you, and you delayed coming - how could you!" Concentrating on what might have been, she overlooks what still can be.

But while she can't hold back rebuke, she adds a declaration of faith that won't quit: "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask" (v. 22).

Jesus insists Lazarus will rise again (v. 23). She answers, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (v. 24). But resurrection is not just a future event; it's a working in us that proceeds from Christ. Three times His life goes forth into believers: physical birth, second birth (John 3), and resurrection.

Pronouncement of life (John 11:25-26) Jesus doesn't say, I perform the resurrection, but I am the resurrection" (v. 25), and adds a question we must all answer: "Do you believe this" (v. 26b)? If we are born twice - physically and spiritually - we will die only the physical death. Refusing salvation, we die twice- physically and spiritually - for "how can we escape if we ignore such a great salvation" (Heb. 2:3a)?

The prodigal son's father explained, "for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found" (Lk. 15:24). Alive physically in the far country, he was dead spiritually. Lazarus is dead physically; alive spiritually because of faith in Jesus. His soul is separated from his body, but like a watch removed from its case, it keeps ticking.

Confession of faith (John 11:27) Martha passes Jesus' test. "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world" (v. 27). No longer do I consider Mary the more spiritual of the sisters (cf. Lk. 10:3842). Martha's confession of faith equals that of Peter when he said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 6:16).

Jesus is not someone we remember, but someone we meet and experience. He's new life in spring; the next breath we take. We can't say, "Lord, if only you had been here," for His spirit indwells us at all times.

If we needed another reason to love Him, it's here as he deals with Martha's faith even before raising Lazarus. Will we ever understand the extent of His love?

Demonstration of power (John 11:38-45) Jesus calls for the stone to be rolled away. Asking people to do the possible, Jesus will do the impossible. Only we can roll the stone of unbelief from our hearts; only He can provide new life (Rev. 3:20). We must come forth from our tomb of darkness, remove our grave clothes of unbelief, and enter the light of eternal life. No physical or spiritual death is beyond Christ's ability to raise.

Dwight L. Moody said, "When Jesus cried, 'Lazarus, come out!,' if He had not used his name, everybody in the cemetery would have come forth, so great was His power." This miracle's powerful impact upon those present caused many to believe and put their faith in Him" (v. 45).

How long will we live? Long enough to do God's will. "No need for haste; no time for waste." I prefer living to a healthy 105, and just prior to dying in my sleep, have Jesus return. But if Jesus tarries, I will make my "flight to worlds unknown" in whatever "chariot" God chooses (cf. 2 Kgs. 2:11). Should it be extended illness, my loved ones will go with me until the door of the chariot opens; then I will enter alone. Oh, I'm familiar with suggested ways to extend life; I confess to trying some; but I'm more familiar with Him who asked, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life'' (Lk. 12:25)?

As believers, our lives are not in the hands of doctors, drunks on the highway, or burglars with guns, but in the hands of Him who promised, "I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John. 14:2c-3).

The important thing is to be ready when my chariot comes. The spiritual goes: "I want to be ready to walk in Jerusalem just like John." So, I prepare, claiming Paul's promise that "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9). Happy landing!

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5/4/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , John 11:1-54 | with 0 comments
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