Jesus claimed to be the resurrection and the life, and anyone who believes in Him will truly live.
What if we struggle to believe there could be anything more to this life?
Discover a new kind of life that comes from the inside out!Our Easter experience will be an inspiring experience for all ages and includes an interview with Dr. Gary Habermas, the most renowned expert on the resurrection of Jesus.
Gateway South Message:
Message Notes from John Burke:
That’s the band The 1975.
British frontman/writer Matty Healy has been a long-time atheist, yet he wants to believe. In fact, in an interview with Genius he says “I want salvation just as much as the next person, I envy the faithful…if there’s anybody who actually has some evidence on all this God-bleep, give it to me because now is the time, I will eat it up.” And then on the next album he sings “I’m in Love with Jesus Christ”—yet clearly he’s still struggling. Why?
I think it’s the story of so many in our generation—maybe you can relate.
So many of us started in the chaos of a world far from God, or God’s goodness. We tasted evil and brokenness and chaos early on—abuse, broken families, failed love, aloneness, addiction.
It’s where we started, so the thought of a God who really loves us, came for us, died for us, rose for us to forgive all our wrongs, and rescue us – A God who wants to do life with us, and lead us into a Life that’s eternal – well that sounds awesome…BUT! There’s so much resistance.
The world screams—it’s myth, a lie, Jesus didn’t even exist, it’s all fairytales, the Bible was written hundreds of years after the fact—it’s legend, you can’t trust it.
Yet as you just heard, that’s not the truth. Even atheist scholars admit the historical facts are there. Dr. Habermas gave 6, but he told John he’s working on a book putting all the evidence in one place. It’s 5000 pages so far. It’s hard not to be cynical and think “too bad few will read it.” Which is part of the problem.
Very few take the time to see that the evidence is there. Why?
Well, it’s because the real issue is not a matter of the head. It’s a matter of the heart. If scholars admit the historical facts are there, why don’t they believe in Jesus and follow Him?
Like Dr. Habermas said, that’s like the difference between knowing about a person, facts about them, from pledging your faith to live together “til death do us part.”
That’s what Jesus is offering—life with the God of love, starting now, lasting forever.
The struggle is a heart issue.
Will I choose to entrust my life into God’s care?
It’s a choice. And what I find gets in the way most is not the facts (though they can be a good excuse). It’s disappointment with God or the fear of losing control that gets in the way of trusting God. It’s heart issues.
Jesus was a real historical person, and God did what we always demand from Him: “prove yourself—show yourself.”
- God foretold the coming of Jesus the Messiah, including his death and resurrection, 1000s of years beforehand (go read Isaiah 53).
- He’s the God of all people. He foretold rescuing people from all nations. And Just think, 65 nations are represented here at Gateway alone. Jesus has followers around the globe.
- He changed the world, yet his message was so simple: To love God first, then love others as much as yourself.
- He also claimed to be God’s Messiah, God revealed in a form we could relate to—and that threatened some people.
The Story of Lazarus
Several weeks before Jesus’ Crucifixion, His friend Lazarus got deathly ill.
Mary and Martha and Lazarus were siblings, all followers, or disciples of Jesus—which was one of the anomalies of Jesus that the Religious Leaders opposed. Jesus had female disciples or followers/students. Mary and Martha had seen Jesus heal many,
So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days… John 11:3-6
And Lazarus died! He DIED!
- Mary and Martha were SO disappointed, so let down, grieving, so hurt.
- They trusted Jesus as Messiah.
- They’d seen Him heal people, and no one could deny it.
- That too is found in secular history books. Josephus a Jewish/Roman historian and the Pharisees in the Talmud can’t deny Jesus’ miracles. They call them sorcery, but history confirms Jesus’ miracle-working power to heal lepers, the blind, paralytics.
- Yet in this moment he appears to fail his friends. He chose not to come until it was too late.
Has God ever disappointed you?
- I’ve seen many atheists come to faith in Jesus over the last 25 years, and what I’ve found at the root it usually not a lack of evidence but being hurt or let down by God.
- Like my atheist neighbor who prayed to God as a child that her father would not die, but he died. She was so hurt, she decided God didn’t exist.
- Sure atheists have reasons and arguments.We’ve read them and discussed them, but I’ve found very few who weren’t first hurt or let down by God early in life – then the reasons tend to be found.
I get it.
- I know what it’s like to pray “God I believe! You can do this”
- Yet God disappoints. God seems to let us down.
- If that’s where you struggle to believe, or maybe struggle to really trust and follow Jesus, I’m sympathetic.
But I also think there’s more to the story, and if you don’t consider a perspective bigger than your own, well, then you will stay stuck. If there’s no perspective bigger than my own, it means I know everything. We take the place of God. If that’s true, then there is no hope.
But if what Jesus said is true?
Then there’s Hope because there’s a greater perspective – one that makes sense of it all.
Do you need hope today—listen to what Jesus promises:
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So…he stayed. – John 11:5-6
Jesus loved them. Then why did he break their hearts?
If God loves us—why does He allow such disappointed and hurt?
It only makes sense from an Eternal Perspective.
Jesus loved them.
God Loves You.
That’s always the reason God is doing the things He does. Hold onto the fact God loves you when it makes no sense from our perspective.
Jesus loved them, so he stayed.
God is with us in our suffering. When we find ourselves struggling with isolation or loneliness, working through a challenging marriage, going through a divorce,
In the moment, it made no sense how those two things were connected.
But that’s where faith, trust, belief comes in.
Do you trust that He loves you, even when things don’t make sense?
It helps me to Think about it by analogy…
My kids are young adults now, but when they were smaller they loved it when we let them watch some TV. My kids are old enough that we didn’t have iPads or iPhones when they were small, so to have the TV was their version of screen time. So whether it was Blue’s Clues or Dora the Explorer or Elmo or their absolute favorite Spongebob Squarepants, they loved watching TV. And when I would turn off the TV, by their reaction you would have thought I had killed the sponge who lives under a pineapple under the sea!!
Now Why would I keep breaking their heart like that?
- Because I love them. As parents we love them, and we have a bigger perspective than they do on their development.
- Because we love them we would discipline them which made them cry.
- We went to the doctor’s office where they would get shots which made them cry.
- They cried a lot – even when we were doing the best thing for them.
God’s perspective on our lives is like that.
God loves you—and when we suffer—there’s a bigger reason.
There’s a Bigger Reason.
You have to realize that—there’s a bigger reason motivated by God’s love for us.
But not just us—for everyone. That’s part of that Bigger Perspective.
Jesus said of Lazarus death:
“it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
God’s glory – that sounds like God’s selfish or egotistical, but it’s the opposite.
God promises And since we are his children…we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17
Egotistical rulers don’t share their glory—God does.
The bigger perspective is you are His child who will inherit all God has to give. But God’s glory (God’s greatness) showed itself when He entered our suffering.
When Jesus said that, He was preparing to die for us.
Lazarus’ being raised from death would initiate people hailing Him King Messiah, and so threaten the Religious Leader’s power that they would crucify Jesus a few weeks later.
God’s glory is demonstrated in God’s sacrificial love for all people.
Sometimes God allows things for reasons bigger than me or you.
So when you struggle remember: God loves you, God has a Bigger Perspective and
God Loves Others Too.
“Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” John 11:14-15.
Jesus loved Mary and Martha, but He was thinking of others too.
It’s bigger than me.
What I think is best, may not be best for everyone. The problem is: I love my perspective—don’t you? No…you don’t love my perspective, you love YOUR perspective—because it’s almost always the right one—right? My perspective is the correct one. But that puts each of us at the center of the universe: trying to play God and determine how it should go.
What if that’s actually what’s wrong with the world?
What if that’s the cause of all we blame and hate God for – the abuse he doesn’t stop, the evil that hurts us, the moms and dads who only see their side which leads to divorce that hurt you.
God allows all this – not forever, for a time.
Death, disease, disappointment, corruption it’s all evidence of a world turned away from God. God allows it to affect us, but not forever, and sometimes we can’t see why.
“For your sake I’m glad I was not there.”
Jesus did love Mary and Martha, but he loves others too—and he had them in mind as well. When you’re disappointed, remember that God’s love is for all people, that is why He doesn’t always do what we think best.
So they go to Bethany, but it’s a few days journey, so when they arrive Lazarus had already been dead and in the tomb 4 days! All hope was now gone. Martha runs out to meet Jesus:
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:21-26.
Do you believe this? Do you trust this bigger perspective?
I Am the Resurrection and Life.
We all will die—there’s no getting around that. And that’s what I realized in my grief and disappointment when some of those prayers I prayed weren’t answered. If there is no God, if there is no Life after death, there is no hope. Period. We are purposeless accidents of nature, all our happiness, all our sadness—it’s meaningless and nothing good will come of it.
But does that make sense? We suffer for nothing? That makes no sense!
My own disappointment makes no sense unless there is an appointment. Why can I even reason that there’s something wrong with nature, if I’m just an accident of nature?
I realized the suffering of those I love is meaningless. There’s no hope of anything good coming from it…unless…there really is resurrection and life like Jesus promised.
Jesus said: “I Am the Resurrection and Life.”
Jesus promised all who believe, have faith, trust in Him you will never die because He is the Source of your Life—temporary life on earth, and Life eternal that’s the bigger Perspective.
Do you believe?
That’s what He asks.
The word “believe” is the Greek word “Pistuo” which means “faith, belief, trust”—like Dr. Habermas said it’s the word for what a couple does when they pledge their faith to be married. When you say “I do” saying “I want to live in loving relationship with you.”
And that’s what God wants from you – a loving relationship that starts now, and grows as you learn to do life with God and trust God more and more. It’s not religion God is after. It’s your heart He wants.
That’s why He doesn’t force you, or me, or anyone. Love can’t be forced. It’s also why God allows the hurts, evils, brokenness of a world that chooses “My will be done” much more than God’s will. But he allows it so we will turn from our will to God’s will and share God’s glory and love forever.
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:27
Do you believe this?
Jesus asks you. Do you want God’s love and forgiveness and relationship—one that starts now, but never ends. Though death comes to all, Jesus’ promises death is just a small step into the Life with God we were ultimately created for.
Have you told him, “I do?”
Jesus’ crucifixion was the price of your forgiveness.
Jesus’ resurrection was the assurance of your Hope for an Eternal Quality of Life that grows from the inside out—starting now—until you one day inherit all God’s glory.
But until then, we all will go through trials and troubles and letdowns…
Jesus Cares for You.
It says Mary stayed back—she was so hurt. Mary can’t even look at him.
Maybe in your grief, letdown, disappointment you’ve gotten there: “I can’t even talk to God I’m so hurt.”
Here’s what you need to understand. Jesus cares for you and even grieves with you. 33 When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.35 Jesus wept. John 11:33-35.
Jesus wept. The shortest verse in the bible, maybe the most profound. God weeps with you. God mysteriously feels our disappointments, hurts, grief over death and disease in life. He’s going to make it better, but He still feels our pain.
Jesus wasn’t weeping for Lazarus, he was about to raise Lazarus. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha.
He cares for you. He is in it with you—turn to Him.
And when I have found myself disappointed with God and upset, I have shared my anger and frustration with God. I have yelled and cried and yelled some more.
You know what I love about the Bible? God’s put real people’s raw emotions in there to show us—He can handle it. The psalms, the lamentations are full of “Why God? Where are you? Why don’t you act?” Even Jesus on the Cross “My God my God why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus entered our suffering with us. You can turn to God, talk to him about all your hurts, disappointments, even anger—He gets it. He cares, he feels, he comforts, and in time he heals. And He promises…
He Works It All for Your Good.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the Grave.
But it was that act which prompted the Religious Leaders to crucify him.
“Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” John 11:48.
The real reason they rejected Jesus had nothing to do with evidence He was the Messiah. It was because they wanted control. They wanted the power and control and prestige from the way things were. They didn’t want Jesus to disrupt their lives where they called the shots. And at the end of the day, it’s the struggle we all have.
To let go of controlling, playing God of my life (and other people’s lives) and surrender control.
To say “God—you’re God, I’m not, I will follow You instead of trying to get You to do my will.”
That’s faith—that’s trust.
But when we trust God, especially in the disappointment and hurts, His promise is to use it for our good. Which means—all of it counts.
There are no wasted trials, no wasted grief, no wasted disappointments or suffering. It will all be made to count for your good. Even 2020!
God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28.
God sees when you trust him through disappointments, trials, suffering—and it produces good things in you now, and you will share His glory—all He has forever.
That’s the Hope the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus brings.
God takes the earth’s greatest evils to bring humanities greatest good.
And after the initial grief of my disappointments, I chose trust. Sometimes it has taken me longer than other times.
In the end, I choose to believe this is the brokenness of a world against God’s ways, but I can make something good from this by choosing Trust.
My prayer in the midst of suffering has become, “Show me how to faithfully love you through this.”
One day all this will count, because God is love, and the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus proved His Love. It’s all Good when you love and trust God through it all.