Greetings in the name of the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:25-26)
We believe that all of you have a truly blessed Easter, which gives our eternal hope in Jesus Christ, Our Savior, who died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected on the third day on the morning of the first Easter Sunday.
However, none of the disciples initially believed in Jesus’ resurrection because it was completely out of reach of their minds and thoughts, and their perception set their rational boundaries. Jesus’ resurrection was outside of their rational boundaries. More importantly, it reflected the level of their faith. Indeed, they saw Lazarus, who was resurrected after four days in his tomb by Jesus, but they could not connect Jesus’ resurrection to that of Lazarus.
Before making Lazarus resurrected, here is the dialog between Jesus and His disciples. He clarified for His disciples.
Then He [Jesus] said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
So He told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” (John 11:11-16)
Here is why the above conversation happened. Jesus heard about Lazarus’ sickness, but Jesus said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Lazarus, He stayed where He was for the next two days. Finally, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
In other words, Jesus waited there until Lazarus died. Then Jesus headed out to Lazarus, who was already dead and in a tomb. At that time, people in Judea were not friendly to Jesus where Lazarus lived. Specifically, Lazarus’s town was Bethany, a couple of miles away from Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, multiple times, Jesus harshly criticized the religious leaders, and they became enemies of Jesus. The disciples also knew this fact. It is why Thomas said, “Let’s go, too – and die with Jesus.”
They obediently followed Jesus, despite the religious leaders being hostile to them, even killing them. Then as they arrived, they saw two sisters in sorrow and resentment that Jesus did not come in time to heal Lararus’ sickness. Both sisters saw multiple times that Jesus healed the sick. Thus, the sisters believed Jesus would heal Lazarus too, but Jesus even did not come, although they sent people for Jesus.
However, Jesus truly loved Lazarus. When Jesus saw Mary weeping and the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled within him, and He was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” He asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” People also questioned Jesus’ true power.
Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. Then, “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
Nobody wanted to see a decaying friend’s body after being dead for four days.
Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” It was true. Martha had to warn Jesus.
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. As opening the tomb, they could smell the dead, as expected. They thought about asking why Jesus wanted to open the bomb. Martha and Mary kept their distance from the tomb because people forced them to stay away from the tomb entrance, which would hurt them even more as they got the smell of a decaying brother’s body. Jesus, however, carefully watched everything.
Then Jesus looked up to Heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here so that they will believe you sent me.”
Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43b)
And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.”
Caiaphas, who was the high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”
Bible continues explaining Caiaphas’ remark as the direct cause of the death of Jesus on the cross.
“He [Caiaphas] did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.” (John 11:51-52)
Yes, the Bible prophesied, and Jesus died on the cross as Caiaphas, the high priest at that time, planned, but the real reason is as follows: Jesus id died on a cross to save all according to God’s plan, which was also foretold multiple times by prophets.
Indeed, we are saved because of Jesus’ death on the cross. Through His death and resurrection, we have been brought by and united together with Jesus as children of God. Thus, we become one family as God’s children in Jesus.
By the way, being children of God is not driven by our own merit – what we do because Jesus paid all our sins on the cross. Jesus is the guarantor of our salvation and our advocator before God. Thus, our verdict is guaranteed when we stand before God, who sits on the Judgement seat. Again, not because we did good or at least did good more than evil, but because Jesus declared us righteous before God.
Then how can the above be possible? Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross. Jesus clearly and loudly will say, “I’ve already paid all sins on the cross. Thus, I declare each of us is forgiven and no more condemnation.” The wage of sins is death, but we have received our eternal life through Jesus despite all our sins.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
All disciples heard the above truth many times from Jesus and even witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection. Still, they could not believe it when they saw Jesus resurrected from His death. They saw the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection but could not connect Jesus’ death and resurrection to the miracle of that of Lazarus.
Why? The miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection faded in the disciples’ minds as time went by. Thus, the miracle of Lazarus was forgotten, and they had never expected Jesus to be resurrected, although Jesus mentioned his resurrection many times as a part of His teaching. What can we learn from this? We all want to see miracles, and the miracles slowly fade, which soon become irrelevant to our thought process. Thus, miracles do not lead us to our salvation
Many search for teaching instead, but teaching alone does not lead to salvation either. Jesus was the best teacher ever. Jesus’ teaching was completely different from all teachers at that time with authority, but even Jesus’ teaching did not help disciples to understand His death and resurrection. Then how can teaching alone lead people to salvation?
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
The answer is: without Jesus’ intervention, we cannot believe the truth and receive eternal life.
Two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But they could not recognize Jesus.
They were very sad because Jesus died on the cross and was buried in a tomb. It was the reason why they were going down to Emmaus to get out of Jerusalem. It was their trip to escape from the gloomy, disappointing, depressing, and sad Jerusalem. Staying in Jerusalem alone made them more depressed and added more sadness to them.
Jesus went along with them for a while. Still, they did not recognize Jesus. Yes, Jesus is always with us, but we just don’t recognize Him and His presence all the time, like the two disciples fleeing down to Emmaus.
Then Jesus asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment, he disappeared!
They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” Only Jesus can truly touch our hearts. As Jesus touched their hearts, they felt Jesus’ true love and understood Jesus’ death on the cross. Before the event, their eyes were blind, and their eyes were deaf.
Up to that point, all of the miracles they saw by being Jesus’ disciples and the teaching they heard from Jesus did not help, which stayed in their brains and did not truly reach their hearts. Only when they truly met Jesus, all things were plainly clear to them.
Our salvation does not come to us because of our merit, that is, all our effort to search for teaching and miracles. But the very center of our salvation lies in Jesus. Only through Jesus do we get our enteral salvation without our own efforts, which separates us from the rest.
People generally believe human efforts are needed to get eternal salvation. In other words, people believed their deeds would determine their eternity – eternal salvation vs. eternal condemnation. Thus, people do good to obtain eternal salvation. However, the true reason why doing good is fear of eternal condemnation caused by doing evil while living in this world.
People generally also believe that doing good will compensate for doing evil. In other words, if someone has done more good than evil deeds, then the person would receive eternal life.
It sounds very logical. Under this system, people have to keep track of all good deeds vs evil deeds throughout their lives to ensure they have more good deeds to know their destiny. It seems like a workable solution, but there is one question: is it really possible to keep a record of all deeds: good and evil, throughout our lives?
It seems logical, but counting all good and evil deeds is practically impossible, not because of the huge number of our deeds to be counted, but more problematic, which is not easy to say which act is good or evil.
Each one has one’s own view about good and evil. And our act involve at least two parties. Thus, one party might think a particular act is good, while the other considers it evil. Then how to count good and evil, in this case? Two parties would count differently. Hmm. Then before the judgment seat, one person would claim one more good deed, while the other person would say evil.
Then to be fair, should the deed not be counted? Then it leads to another problem: one’s genuinely good deed would be counted as neither good nor bad, which is another issue of balancing out good vs evil deeds. Thus, it is impossible to know whether one has done more good than evil.
Our discourse about good deeds and evil deeds can continue forever without producing a clear-cut and definite answer. As people generally believe, if our salvation is based on this shaky balancing act of comparing good vs evil deeds, how nervous will we be?
Under the system of counting good and evil deeds, our salvation would be potentially changing every moment, and we would only know when we stand before the eternal judge who can count our good and evil deeds and balance them out with each other to make a final verdict. It is a really scarcely value proposition about our eternity.
We Christians are completely different. We already know what our final verdict is. In other words, our eternity is guaranteed and secure. Why? We have a guarantor, who is Jesus Christ, our Savior. When we stand before the eternal judge, our God, Jesus guarantees our salvation to Heaven. We will never fall into an eternal condemnation to hell. Instead, we will surely live in Heaven, where we will spend eternity with God, our Ever-Loving Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son. Even today, the Holy Spirit in our hearts always assures this truth: Jesus Christ died for us and rose again from the dead, and through Jesus Christ, all our sins are forgiven. There is no more condemnation but eternal life.
This is our belief, which only comes from God, who dearly loves us and sent Jesus Christ to the earth to forgive all our sins. Jesus took all our sins and offered Himself as the eternal and perfect sacrifice to atone for all our sins. Thus, we are completely free from the bondage of our past, present, and future sins. It is the Good News. And God gave the Good News freely to all. Anyone who believes the truth and accepts Jesus as one’s personal savior receives this free gift of God: eternal salvation. This is the blessing directly from God, who loves us unconditionally and always through Jesus Christ.
“Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
it’s all free!
Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
“Come to me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David. (Isaiah 55:1-3)