From Pastor Johnny

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Will You Rise Up? Day 1

Will you rise up?

 When all the nations have passed, will you rise?

 When all of the fortunes have been made, will you rise?

When all of the rivers have run, the suns have risen, and the stars have fallen, will you rise?

When there is a new heaven and a new earth, will you rise?

Jesus Christ explains that He is the reason we will rise up.

          Almost 80% of John 11 is given to the story of Lazarus, who was the brother of Mary & Martha of Bethany (a village – almost suburb – of Jerusalem). This family was a fairly close friend of Jesus. And, as we learn throughout the Gospels, Jesus would often stay at their house when in Jerusalem.  In John 11 Jesus has sufficiently agitated many of the religious leaders so much that there has already been talk of stoning him. As John 11 begins Jesus is just beyond the Jordan River, where John had been baptized, teaching, and seeing people saved. While there, Lazarus, in Bethany near Jerusalem, became very sick.

          Mary & Martha sent for Jesus.  Once Jesus learned of the extreme illness of Lazarus, he remained out beyond the Jordan River for two more days. In those 2 days his friend Lazarus became increasingly ill and died.  Jesus then told his disciples he was heading to Bethany in Judea, to which his disciples strongly objected.  The last time they were there the Jewish leaders attempted to stone Him. Jesus tried to explain, in subtle terms, that Lazarus was dead.  His disciples did not get it and thought only that Lazarus was asleep. 

          Jesus, finally, told them point blank:  He is Dead.  His team began its journey to Bethany, and were met outside of town by Martha, who confronted Jesus on why he had not arrived sooner and healed Lazarus. Jesus explained that Lazarus would rise again by declaring Himself as that resurrection.

         Jesus then proceeded on into Bethany. He called Lazarus out of the tomb for everyone to see. The key point in this chapter is really not the raising of Lazarus, but the announcement of Jesus as the resurrection. The raising of Lazarus was the illustration of that declaration Jesus made of Himself in John 11.25-26.

         In those two verses are found three assurances to know if you want to rise someday. Consider those three assurances.

 You Know the Person:    

“I am the resurrection and the Life…”

         From the days of Moses, the formula “I Am” has been an identifying mark of God Himself.  It began as a way to introduce the God of Moses to the Israelites and Pharaoh as he prepared to rescue them from Egypt.  From the beginning, God has introduced Himself as a personality and not as merely a concept or system of thought.

            In 2013 my bride and I flew for 9 hours with a group of about 45 people from JKF Airport in New York City to Tel Aviv, Israel. We got on a bus that evening at the airport and drove to the Olive Tree Hotel in Jerusalem. We all got checked into our rooms, crashed, and got up the next morning for breakfast and the first of 7 straight days of touring Israel. We would be led those 7 days by a man Sharaga Ben Yosef. He was a former Israeli soldier, who had fought in multiple wars, and though he was Jewish, he knew his Bible – OT & NT – better than most Christians. He would lead.

            We began our tour on the Mt of Olives, which stands across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. We saw the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified. We saw Old Town Jerusalem, and the patio area where Pontius Pilate interrogated Jesus. We saw the Holocaust Museum, where the first room is dark, with thousands and thousands of little pen lights all over the ceiling representing the thousands of children brutally slaughtered in Nazi Concentration Camps.

            We went north to Caesarea, along the Mediterranean Sea. It was magnificent. We sailed on a boat on the Sea of Galilee – the same body of water on which Jesus walked and where Jesus calmed the storms. We saw Megiddo – the Valley of Jezreel – where the Bible prophesies that the final, horrible battle will take place with so much blood that it will be as high as a horse’s bridal.

            We saw the Dead Sea where you can sit upright and float, because of the salt water. We saw the City of Jericho, where Joshua and the Israelites marched around the walls of it 7 times before they fell.

            We saw Bethlehem, Nazareth, and we saw a place called Masada. It is a land structure sticking 1400 feet above ground, where King Herod had built a palace but never used it. God’s people fled Jerusalem and hid there when attacked in AD 73 by Roman armies. The people held up there until they knew that the Roman armies would be overtaking them and slaughtering their families the next day. I watched grown men and women with tears coming down their faces as Sharaga Ben Josef told the story of the families committing mass suicide the day before the Romans stormed into their fortifications.

            I remember Sharaga saying, “Israelis really just want peace. We are prepared to die for our country and God, but really would rather just live for our God in peace.”

            In those 7 days, we could have potentially followed a map, a tour book, or an app on our phones to visit these places. But, quite frankly, none of those forms of tour could have possibly equaled out to the way Sharaga led. Following a set of instructions to take that tour could never be as powerful or as memorable as following that person. And, so our Savior!

            We rise, not because of a set of instructions or guide book but because of a person! It is because of that person, that we can rise.      

Because of the person of Jesus…

The resurrection is not some day.  It is this day!

The resurrection is not over there.  It is right here!

The resurrection is not then.  It is now!

The resurrection is not a concept.  It is a person.

The resurrection is not a theory.  It is a personality.

The resurrection is not a dream.  It is a reality!

All this is true about the resurrection because IT IS JESUS!!