The Sims – A “life simulation video game”
For many years, that was life for me. Avoiding pain, pursuing pleasure, and getting
more stuff. As ridiculous as the game was, it looked an awful lot like the way I lived.
Fun Fact: The Sims had pretty remarkable AI for the time, which led to some hilarious
situations. For example, you could put your character in a room and delete the doors,
then watch them slowly descend into madness (but then buy them a new TV and
everything would be made right again, of course).
Beyond Belief Series
The Greek word John used for “believing in Jesus” is more accurately translated
“believing into Jesus.” It’s a wholehearted plunge into a new way of living. It’s not
just a mental checkbox. It’s a leap of faith.
The Book of John
The gospel of John is not a comprehensive biography.
This book was written so that you might believe. And through that belief - that you
might have life.
The Context of the Raising of Lazarus
Raising Lazarus is the last miracle Jesus does in the book of John before he’s
crucified. It is John’s mic-drop moment.
Jesus is the Son of God, with power over the grave. And this is who we crucified.
Fun Fact: The raising of Lazarus is the 7th miracle John lists – the final one before Jesus’
death and resurrection. The number seven represented perfection & completion in the
time this book was written.
The Death of Lazarus
Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
Fun Fact: John refers to Lazarus as the brother of Mary and Martha. Identifying a man
by his relationship to a woman would have been unheard of back then, except for
particularly famous women. Jesus and his disciples championed a new era in equality
and dignity across genders (see Galatians 3:28!).
Why did Jesus stay where he was?
1. Lazarus had to die so that Jesus could show his power over death, setting the
stage for his own resurrection.
2. Jesus wanted to make it crystal clear that raising Lazarus wasn’t a magic
trick. It wasn’t sorcery. It was a powerful and unmatched miracle that
confirmed his identity as the Son of God - the Messiah who has power over
Fun Fact: Did you know that looking at photos of the body’s decomposition process is
super disgusting? Well, it is! I’ll save you the trouble: Lazarus would have come out
looking pretty much like a zombie. Ew. Unless Jesus healed him back to full health? The
story doesn’t tell us.
Jesus and Martha
Everything John writes is designed to make a case that Jesus is the Son of God and
ask a question: Do you believe it?
Jesus throws down the gauntlet and gets crystal clear about who he is. He says, “I am
the resurrection and the life.”
In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus is life.
God is working to redeem and restore this broken creation. He will one day
inaugurate a new heaven and a new earth where his children can dwell. A place
where they will have life to the full. Peace, joy, love, harmony… Life the way it was
meant to be.
When we surrender our lives to Jesus, when we believe into him, we gain access to
that life, now.
Death becomes little more than a bump in the road. Because Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus is life.
Fun Fact: It is amazing to see Martha’s complete confession of surrender here before
Jesus raises her brother from the grave. Meanwhile, the Pharisees in chapter 12 choose
to reject Jesus after the miracle. We often say we’d believe if we saw things with our
own eyes, but would we really? Food for thought.
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Fun Fact: In the 1870s, archaeologists found ancient ossuaries (boxes filled with
bones) in a cave near Bethany with the names Lazarus, Mary, and Martha on them.
Could they be the actual bones of Jesus’ friends from the gospel of John? It’s possible.
Then again, those were three VERY common names back then, so it’s not definitive.
Why was Jesus emotional here? Opinions are varied:
1. He was moved by everyone else’s grief
2. He was devastated by the brokenness of the world
3. He was upset because of everyone else’s lack of faith
4. A combination of these things
Whatever the case, Jesus was a thinking, feeling, flesh and blood man. He had
emotions like all of us.
Don’t miss this. Jesus doesn’t dance around and make a show like some kind of
witch doctor. He doesn’t go into the tomb and pour magic potions on the body. He
simply speaks and death obeys.
Jesus is the Son of God. He’s the resurrection. He is the Messiah - the anointed king
over all creation.
Jesus is life.
Fun Fact: One of the major differentiators between Yahweh (the one true God) and the
rest of the “little g” gods in the Old Testament was how he got stuff done. Yahweh
simply spoke, and all creation obeyed. Jesus has that same authority here.
Why This Story Matters
This story matters because so many of us live like we’re in the Sims. We’re running
around trying to keep ourselves happy. Avoiding pain, pursuing pleasure, and
getting more stuff.
We’re looking for life, joy, significance, and purpose everywhere we can, but we
keep coming up short.
This story matters because it gives us another way to live.
Yeah, I read my Bible sometimes and prayed a bit and went to church, but if you
were to take Jesus out of my day to day life, not a whole lot would have changed. I
believed in Jesus, but I didn’t believe into him.
Fun Fact: I’ve talked about some of my “God ordained experiences” in past sermons, in
case you’re curious. This one includes one of the most significant spiritual moments in
my life: http://gracechurch.us/media/way-of-discipleship-two
As my understanding grew of who Jesus really was, I had no choice but to surrender.
I stopped trying to find life in the stuff of this world, and worked hard to make Jesus
my life. To make his purposes my own.
And can I tell you what happened to me? As I grew deeper in my surrender, a new
kind of life started to bubble up inside of me.
My cynicism transformed into hope.
My aimlessness turned into purpose.
My fear turned into faith.
Every time I take another step, believing into Jesus, I discover that his well of life
goes even deeper than I ever imagined. Every time I align my life to his, I experience
greater peace, greater joy, and greater love. It’s a taste of the life to come. And now
I’m hungry for more.
What About You?
Who is Jesus to you?
Is he a fairy tale? Is he holy man? Is he just some historical figure? Or is he the
resurrected Son of God - worthy of your complete surrender?
Have you given him “every breath”?