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Archive for Salvation

Grace in the Life of Mephibosheth

by John Howell, Jr.

2017 Glimpses of Grace Conference

This is the transcript of a message delivered by John Howell, Jr. at the 2017 Glimpses of Grace Conference.

 

 I. Introduction: How would you define “grace”?

We know from the Bible that, if you are a child of God, you are a beneficiary of something called “grace.” It is the word in our language associated with how God saves sinners, so it is a word of extreme significance. We use the word “grace” quite a bit, and we often sing out this word in our songs of praise.  Nevertheless, I am convinced we scarcely begin to understand how amazing is God’s grace. God issued forth His grace in order to save us sinners. Grace is what erupted from the cross, and flows mightily even now. Grace is what happened when God’s justice met God’s love in that sacrifice of the Lamb. “For by grace are ye saved through faith…” (Eph. 2:8).

I am quick to tell people that “grace” is my favorite word. But, I struggle to define grace in a way that describes this concept sufficiently. I know we can point to the acrostic G-R-A-C-E and say, “Grace is God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” We can also use the helpful word play: “Justice is getting what I deserve. Mercy is not getting what I deserve. Grace is getting what I do not deserve.” But, really, do these attempts to explain give me a rich, full definition of God’s grace.

How would you describe God’s saving grace?

There is some good news for those who truly want to understand the beauty and scope of God’s grace. In the Bible, grace is defined and “fleshed out” through real-life events and actions of real-life people (the Word of God is living and powerful! Heb. 4:12). So, to assist our limited mental reach, God has been “gracious” to show us what grace looks like, so that our hearts and minds can get a better grasp on His grace. As you study the Word, be looking for those living, breathing illustrations of this majestic attribute of God that we call “grace.”

 

II. Grace in the Life of Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9)

A pitiful existence

 Mephibosheth’s life was sad and painful until King David sought him and showered much grace into his life.

The grandson of Saul and son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth was born in a time of great conflict. King Saul lost his mind and was often on the offensive against David and men who were loyal to David. Saul was also on the defensive against Israel’s traditional enemies, the Philistines. After Saul and his son Jonathan were killed by the Philistines, a period of civil war ignited between Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Saul’s son Ish-boseth attempted to keep the throne but was assassinated. In this time of violence, Mephibosheth was a five year old boy. A nurse attempted to help the child flee the violence as Saul’s short-lived dynasty was crumbling, Mephibosheth suffered a fall which inflicted a serious injury that damaged both feet and crippled him for life.

As was prophesied, David ascended to the throne, eventually unifying Israel and Judah. Nothing is heard about Mephibosheth for many years. One can imagine that he had a bleak life, enduring a severe handicap as well as a realistic fear that he could be assassinated! In this time, descendants of a former king were usually eliminated by the new king to avoid any possibility of rebellion by those loyal to the former king. That was the code of conduct for this period. Mephibosheth, as the grandson of Saul, would never have been able to rest comfortably, and probably spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder, maybe even in hiding. As a crippled man, he was defenseless. As a descendant of Saul, Mephibosheth would also have no claim on any former property or wealth due to the downfall of the family.

So the man Mephibosheth was crippled and impoverished. As the last survivor of Saul’s family, he was always aware that he was operating on borrowed time.

Grace behind the scenes

Though Mephibosheth likely had little hope for joy and meaning in his life, there were some things that he did not know or fully understand—very important information about his daddy (Jonathan) and King David.

God in His sovereignty had knitted the hearts of David and Jonathan in a beautiful friendship when they were growing up. Despite Saul’s hatred for David, Saul’s own son, Jonathan, deeply loved David. What’s more, Jonathan respected the plan of God, which called for the leadership of Israel to shift from Saul to David. Jonathan’s loyalty to David on occasion saved David’s very life as Jonathan helped David avoid the insane violence of Saul. In return, Jonathan’s request to David was this: “If I continue to live, show me kindness from the LORD, but if I die, don’t ever withdraw your kindness from my household—not even when the LORD cuts off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth” (1 Samuel 20:14-15). Jonathan and David then made a covenant, centered around that request from Jonathan. Why did David do this? David made this covenant because he loved Jonathan “as he loved himself” (1 Sam. 20:17).

Years after that covenant was struck, this beautiful, godly friendship still lived in David’s heart. The kingdom had been established, and David’s enemies had indeed been “cut off” as Jonathan had prophesied. Reminiscing, David’s thoughts turned to Jonathan. “David asked, ‘Is there anyone remaining from the family of Saul I can show kindness to for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1). And then, learning that there was a remaining descendant, David turned those thoughts of love into actions of grace!

This is what grace looks like!

Through an elderly servant of Saul’s former estate (property now controlled by David, of course), David learned that Jonathan’s son Mephiboseth had survived the bloody years and now lived as an adult at Lo-Debar under the charity of a man named Machir. So David had Mephibosheth fetched from that location and brought to the king.

Don’t you know those were some anxious moments for Mephibosheth! Logically, he would have concluded that David perceived him as a potential threat. Mephibosheth probably thought that he was being summonsed to his imprisonment, or worse! Here is the scene when Mephibosheth finally arrived in Jerusalem and made his way into the very presence of the king: “Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, fell facedown, and paid homage. David said, ‘Mephibosheth!” ‘I am your servant,” he [Mephibosheth] replied” (2 Samuel 2:6).

What a scene! The poor, crippled descendent of an untrustworthy former king brought into the presence of the mighty King David. Mephibosheth’s life was in David’s hands. What was about to happen to him? This man was frightened and not hiding it. David’s first instructions to him: “Don’t be afraid.” Huh? What’s going on? David explains, “’Don’t be afraid,’” David said to him, ‘since I intend to show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan…’” (2 Sam. 9:7a).

So here is the message from David to the crippled man: “Mephibosheth, you are not in danger. You are not unwanted. Mephibosheth, I have brought you into my court to show you checed (an important Hebrew word for lovingkindness/grace) because of a covenant and a friendship I had with your father Jonathan.”

Whoa! Imagine Mephibosheth’s mind trying to process this development. But wait, there’s more! David continues, “I will restore to you all your grandfather Saul’s fields, and you will always eat meals at my table” (2 Sam. 9:7s).

Friends, this is grace. This is mind-blowing, inexplicable, beautiful grace. Mephibosheth is not hated. He is not in trouble. He is not in danger. He is now loved and protected. Mephibosheth is no longer poor and an outcast. He is now wealthy! Very wealthy! The estate and property of King Saul was now to be transferred to his ownership. Verses 9 and 10 reveal that David instructs a capable manager, Ziba (who formerly served Saul, and who also had 15 sons and 20 servants in his employ), to manage Saul’s fields on behalf of Mephibosheth,. This meant that Mephibosheth’s job would be to just pick up the check when the harvest was sold. And the icing on the cake: Mephibosheth would eat all of his meals from this point forward at the table of David and his family. David orders Ziba to carry out the work and tells him again how it all will work: “But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, is always to eat at my table” (2 Sam. 9:10).

This helps me to wrap my mind around the concept of grace. Grace brings off-the-charts blessings. Grace brings mysterious, humbling, unexpected outcomes. Grace actually is “getting what you don’t deserve.” If you and I can get in Mephibosheth’s mind at this point, as he digests David’s promises to him, we can get a glimpse of God’s grace. God’s grace is so amazing, so big, and so breathtaking that it takes scenes like this just to give us that glimpse.

The only proper response to grace

One key in the work of understanding God’s grace is to see just how unmerited it is and how unworthy are the recipients of His grace. Mephibosheth didn’t stick out his chest, take a big breath, and orate about the return of Saul’s glory. Mephibosheth didn’t let this stunned audience in David’s court know that it was about time that someone recognized Saul’s grandson as worthy of attention and honor. No, not all. Here is how he responded: “Mephibosheth paid homage and said, ‘What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?” (2 Sam. 9:8).

Homage. Servant. Dead dog. Mephibosheth’s heart melted upon exposure to God’s grace. There was no response other than the proper response of brokenness and humility. There could be no label more humble or more crude than the label of a “dead dog,” especially in the culture of the Middle East.

At that moment, David didn’t respond by putting his boot on Mephibosheth’s prostrated body and say, “Boy, you got that right. I’m the grace-giver and you are nothing but a dead dog.” Instead, David just lavishes more grace as that is when he gives Ziba his instructions put his team to work for Mephibosheth’s business interests.

It’s just crazy beautiful to see grace flowing. But is also breathtakingly humiliating when God pours His grace into my life.

 

III. I am Mephibosheth

The parallels between Mephibosheth and me are spot-on. Look at this encounter in God’s Word again, and catch the truth of its application to me and to you.

A pitiful existence

Mephibosheth was in bad shape—crippled and a descendant of a disgraced dynasty. He was living a sad life and had a bleak future. Mephibosheth in this illustration from God’s Word represents me, and you. We are broken. As sinners, we are in bad shape. We come into this world spiritually dead to God. Romans 3 spells out just how bad our predicament is from the perspective of a holy God:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one…for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:10-12, 23).

Because of our sin, we deserve death and eternal separation from the holy God who created us. As sinners, we are in bad, bad shape. You and I are Mephibosheth.

Grace behind the scenes

Thankfully, just as grace enters this chapter through the heart of King David, grace enters into our rebellious, messy world through the heart of God. Consider something very, very important that went on behind the scenes, long before we lived, before this universe was even created.

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit put a plan into motion before the world was created whereby the Father covenanted to send the Son to come to this sinful world and to die on the cross for the sins of us all. God the Son convenanted to come, and to die this sacrificial death—the sinless lamb of God! God the Spirit covenanted to draw men, women, boys and girls to the Son. This mighty work of God is what is referred to in Hebrew 13:20 as the “blood of the everlasting covenant.” The result of this work of God is the mighty flow of something that the Word calls His grace!

This is what grace looks like

When King David saw Mephibosheth, he didn’t see a sad, crippled man from the lineage of a Saul (a guy who repeatedly tried to kill David!). Instead, when David saw Mephibosheth, he saw Jonathan, whom David dearly loved. Never once in this chapter do you hear David refer to Mephibosheth’s crippled condition. Instead, David said, “Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake…” (2 Sam. 9:7a).

This is a picture of how God sees the person who is in Jesus Christ. When God looks at us, God sees His beloved Son. That is why the Bible tells us that the believer is clothed in “the garments of salvation” and covered with “the robes of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). What a manifestation of grace! In Christ, we are not seen as sinners of the race of the first broken Adam; we are seen by God as being in the last Adam, the righteousness One, Jesus Christ.

And grace keeps getting bigger and more spellbinding the more I study the Bible. Mephibosheth sat at the king’s table, and was given possession of Saul’s important and valuable estate. Likewise, because I am in Christ, God considers me to be His adopted son. And being in Christ, I have a seat at God’s table! Always and continually! I am a child of the King! I am the recipients of spiritual blessings and power, even now. And I am the recipient of eternal blessings.

The only proper response to grace

When King David poured grace onto the life of Mephibosheth, we see Mephibosheth respond by accepting this outpouring of grace in great humility. We don’t see Mephibosheth manifest any pride. We don’t see him attempt to do any negotiations with David, or in any way proclaim his own worthiness. No, we see that Mephibosheth “fell on his face, and did reverence” (v. 6) Mephibosheth responded to David by saying, “Behold, thy servant!” (v. 6). Mephibosheth submitted to David’s gracious authority by bowing before David and saying, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (v. 8).

Likewise, when the gospel is presented to a sinner, and the sinner learns that God provides forgiveness and eternal life through His Son, the sinner’s only proper and saving response is to bow down and show reverence, and say, “Behold, thy servant!” Who am I, Father, that thou shouldest look upon me, a dead dog of a sinner? The sinner accepts the grace that God has chosen to pour upon him, and he walks in newness of life, a saved man! A blessed man! A beneficiary of God’s amazing grace!

 

“For by grace are ye saved by faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus

by Mike Moore

Who was and who is Jesus Christ?

First, there is the tense. Tense means time. Time is not important or limiting to Him. Dr. Mark Cambron, a great Bible teacher of years past, always said, “Time is an island in the sea of God’s eternity.”

People have trouble deciding whether to say, “Jesus was” – past tense, or “Jesus is” – present tense, or “Jesus will” – future tense.

All are correct. But He must never be left in the past. He is not some First-Century teacher who ran contrary to Roman law and was executed. He is not some long-dead reformer or religious founder. He is not in a tomb in a Judean hillside. He is now, and He is alive. The well-known American news magazine was wrong when the cover story asked, “Who WAS Jesus?”
More has been written about Him than about anyone else. He is the center of it all.

But just who was and is Jesus Christ?

The theories and ideas are legion. Islam, that come-lately religion which swept out of Arabia in the 600s, says He is the next-to-the last prophet. The cult known as Jehovah’s Witnesses says He is a created being. Many in the pablum-sounding liberal mainline denominations say He was a good man, an example.

The Bible says He is God and He is Man.

There is no “good man” middle ground. Good men do not go around claiming to be God. He is something different.

Many, if not most people, certainly in America, may give Him no thought at all. There is not time. People must climb the business ladder and watch their favorite team and take the kids to soccer and play golf and go shopping.

It is time to stop and consider this story and the claims of this Person. Because if it is true that He is what He claimed to be and that He came back from the dead, it is worth our time.

He is different than Gandhi, or Buddha, or George Washington or another famous person of history.

Jesus Christ was born to a teenage mother in a small village about five miles from Jerusalem. He lived on earth for 33 years. He was killed. Then He came back from the dead. He said He will return.

I believe Him.

Why Did Jesus Die on a CROSS?

Why did Jesus Chricrossst die on a cross? That seems to be a strange question to ask. He obviously died there to pay our sin debt. But why did He pay for sin on a cross? It seems like it would have been more appropriate for God to allow Christ to die on one of the altars mentioned in the Old Testament—the bronze altar or maybe the mercy seat. Or maybe God should have erected an altar for Christ to die on. Where did the idea of the cross come from?

The cross of Calvary had everything to do with the Mosaic law. We have learned that no one ever received life from God by keeping the Ten Commandments. In fact, only one person ever kept them perfectly, the Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking of this, Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets. He came to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17).

Christ fulfilled the law in three ways: He kept it perfectly (John 8:46); He was the permanent sacrifice to which all of the temporary sacrifices in the law pointed (Hebrews 10:1–5); and, most importantly, He took its curse (Galatians 3:13).

The law of Moses is made up of many more laws than just the famous ten. It actually includes hundreds of laws and ordinances found throughout the books of Exodus and Leviticus. The whole complex system of commands, ordinances, and sacrifices was intended by God to make known to man His righteous requirement and man’s sin. Far from giving life, the law written on stones is called a killer, a minister of death, and a minister of condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:6–9).

How could this be? It is true because the law makes clear that we are sinners and separated from God. Because the law reveals man’s sin and death before God, it is God’s executioner. It pronounces that every member of Adam’s race is guilty before God and condemned (Romans 3:19).

The law shuts every mouth! It says to everyone—good, bad, moral, immoral, religious, or evil: “Quiet! You have sinned before God, and you must die” (Romans 3:10–17; Romans 3:23). The curse of the law is illustrated graphically in the Old Testament. Catch this glimpse!

“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:22–23)

If a rebellious son committed a sin worthy of death, he was to be stoned to death and hung from a tree. His body was not allowed to remain on the tree all night; he was to be buried that day. The body hanging on the tree was a vivid reminder that the prisoner was accursed by God. The tree exposed the curse of sin. Keep this thought in mind as we investigate further.

Jesus Christ, God’s perfect lamb, died as the permanent payment for sin. To understand how Jesus died, we must recall how Adam died. Remember that death means “separation.” Remember also that Adam was separated from God the moment that he sinned (Genesis 2:17, 3:7–8). This unseen death was passed on to the entire human race (Romans 5:12). Every person born into this world from then until now has been born physically alive but spiritually separated from God (1 Corinthians 15:21–22).

Jesus Christ, having no human father, bypassed Adam’s sin and came into the world as the first freeborn human being. He was born not only physically alive, but also spiritually alive. He was the only one of His kind. He remained spiritually alive until He died upon the cross.

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45–46).

How did God make known to us that the curse of the law had come upon His Son? Jesus Christ as the second person of the Trinity had throughout His life referred to the first person of the Trinity as “Father.” The Father and Son had enjoyed a special relationship throughout eternity. They had never been separated from each other. But here on this Roman cross was a tremendous contrast. About three o’clock Jesus Christ screamed from the cross, not “My Father, My Father,” but the impersonal words, “My God, My God.”

Why did He refer to His Father using the name God? Because His sinless, uncontaminated flesh was bearing at that moment the sin of the imperfect flesh of those connected to Adam’s sin. God the Father placed upon His Son all the guilt and penalty of our sin. Christ was separated from His Father and at that moment received in His body the curse that the law imposed upon us. He bore our sin in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

Paul applied the curse of the death on the tree in Deuteronomy 21:22 to the Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

When God placed our sin upon Christ, the law became God’s minister of condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:6–7). It cursed God’s most precious one. Jesus Christ bore in His body the curse of the law that was meant for us (2 Corinthians 5:21a). By bearing in His body the curse of the law, He destroyed forever the condemnation that the law had pronounced upon us. God removed the curse of the law (which Paul called the certificate of debt, consisting of decrees that were against us and hostile to us). He nailed it to His cross (Colossians 2:13–14).

We owed God a debt that we could not pay. We have all violated His law. The certificate of God’s law was hostile to us, that is, it was enough to condemn us to judgment and hell because “cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them” (Galatians 3:10). But when Christ died on the cross, He canceled the debt.

No trace of the debt remains to be held against us. Because of that old rugged cross, our forgiveness is complete.

 

Propitiation: The Final Forever Sacrifice

October 21, 2015

Paul’s instruction for us to look not upon “things that are seen” but rather upon “things that are not seen” has been the anchor truth for many of the glimpses I have received into God’s grace. How can one actually see things that are not seeable? Jesus said, “Let those who have eyes to see, see.” It is obvious that He was not speaking of physical eyesight. There is one invisible truth that, in this writer’s mind, stands above all others. It has everything to do with the interesting words found in Exodus 25:40. God told Moses to make sure that he built the tabernacle according to the special pattern that had been given to him on the mountain (Sinai). Why was this the case?

A very familiar and dramatic moment in ancient Israel was when the high priest entered a small room in the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies. He did this once every year carrying blood to sprinkle on the solid gold plate on top which was called “the mercy seat” (Heb. 9:7). Under the mercy seat inside the ark were three seemingly insignificant articles: a pot containing fragments of manna, Aaron’s rod that had budded, and shards of broken tablets of the Ten Commandments. These objects represented Israel’s rebellion against God. Shortly after the Exodus, the Jews revolted against God’s provision of food (the manna), against God’s leadership (the rod), and against God’s law (the Ten Commandments). The people had sinned against God.

Replicas of two cherubim were positioned at either end of the ark representing God’s righteousness and His justice. They symbolically looked down upon the mercy seat and at the objects revealing the sin. The wages of sin before a holy God was death. But the blood carried by the high priest was spread upon the mercy seat, satisfying God’s righteous demand against the sin of the people for one year. It is very important to realize that the High Priest entered that little room alone, out of all human sight. (Heb. 9:7).

Enter Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, who appeared in the presence of God in heaven, far away from the probing eyes of all human creation. Christ came as High Priest of a tabernacle not made with human hands (Heb. 9:11-12). This was the real tabernacle in heaven from which the earthly pattern was taken (Ex. 25:40). It was into this heavenly tabernacle that Christ entered the Most Holy Place once for all, obtaining eternal redemption.

Christ never once entered the physical earthly tabernacle made with hands, but He went into heaven itself to appear in the presence of God for us. After He made one (heavenly) sacrifice for sins, forever, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. It is from this vantage point that He is waiting for His enemies to become His footstool.

It is fascinating that at the foot of the cross upon Mt. Calvary many eyes were looking intently at a man dying there. It is here that Paul’s unseen truth comes into crystal clear focus. In heaven, out of the sight of any human eye, our High Priest was Himself becoming sin for us. He was performing His work before the real mercy seat of God. The word that sums this all up is the word propitiation. It means “satisfactory sacrifice.” Jesus Christ and His heavenly service was indeed the final forever sacrifice for our sin. What can we add to that?

For a more detailed look at Propitiation, go to the article on our web page.

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

April 13, 2015

Many friends and I have been empty_tombgrieving the death of a college classmate recently. She and I were freshmen together. I looked forward to meeting her along with others at a local restaurant for coffee. I was aware that she was in the building because of her laugh. What a laugh it was! When she laughed, she really laughed. And it was contagious. Others seemed to catch it and laugh with her. She lived her life with eternity in mind, especially during the last couple of years when she endured much suffering. She will be missed. I could not help but think of her when I penned these words.

During His ministry on earth Jesus, the God-Man, demonstrated His amazing power over nature, angels, disease, demons, and death itself. Amazingly, He raised three people from the dead: the widow of Nain’s son (Lk. 7:14), Jarius’ daughter (Matt. 9:25), and probably his most famous resurrection was that of Lazarus (John 11:1-27).

Lazarus never said a word, but his story is still speaking around the world today. His testimony begins in the little town of Bethany. It was located about two miles from Jerusalem where Jesus was staying. Jesus received word that Lazarus, a dear friend, was sick. Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus, possibly thinking that Jesus would come right away. Instead, Jesus sent word that Lazarus was not going to die but that his sickness was to shed light upon the Son of God.

The text clearly says that Jesus loved all three of these siblings: Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. But He waited in Jerusalem two more days. Two more days! Why? It is simple. He waited for Lazarus to die. When He was at last ready to depart for Bethany, He told His disciples that Lazarus was asleep and it was time to go and wake Him up.

The disciples’ response was understandable. Sick people need rest and it’s good that he is asleep. It is obvious that they were not yet tuned in. Then Jesus rocked them by announcing that Lazarus was dead. Dead! But He quickly followed up with these incredible words. “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to Him” (John 11:15). Lazarus is dead and the Lord is glad? I can’t begin to imagine how these men must have responded to these words. “That you may believe” was possibly lost in the moment.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, He discovered that Lazarus had been dead four days. Four days! I’ve often wondered what went through Mary and Martha’s minds during this time. Where is He? Why doesn’t He come? Does He really care for us? He did so many wonderful things for so many people, why not us? They must have had a myriad of thoughts, and some of them not good. And He was only two miles away! Then comes the majestic moment.

Jesus met Martha face to face. The air must have been ripe with emotion. Martha’s cried, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.” It’s hard to know how her words came out and what she was really thinking. She followed up quickly by saying that God may yet do something.

Jesus’s words, “Your brother is going to rise again,” may have simply hung in the air as Martha tried to process them. She obviously missed the true meaning. She exhibited poise, however. She filled an awkward silence by choking out, “I know he will rise at the resurrection.”

Our Lord’s words should be indelibly emboldened upon every believer’s heart. “I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me – though he may die – yet shall he live.” And His next words reveal the most miraculous truth of all. “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” I imagine Him saying it softly, like this: “Martha, Martha, look at Me. Don’t you know who I am? Martha, I am the resurrection! When I am here, the resurrection is here. I am the One who gives life. When I am here, life is here.”

I am awed when I think of the truth of these words: “He who lives and believes in me will never die.” Believers that die go instantly into the presence of Jesus Christ. For us nothing comes between leaving this world and entering the next. We do not die! The very millisecond that this physical life ends, we are face to face with Christ. We are absent from the body and present with the Lord. Halleluiah!

The supernatural moment finally came. Jesus asked those around to move the stone away from the grave! Hold it! Lazarus had been dead too long! His body was already a stench. “Move it away,” Jesus commanded. They obeyed. Then Jesus spoke boldly, “Lazarus, come forth.” He wasn’t saying it loudly for Lazarus to hear. After all, He was the One who spoke all of creation into existence. He was the One who breathed life into Adam. He was the One who said, let there be, and it was. No! He wanted all those standing around to hear. He wants us now to hear. He wants those who read this who are spiritually dead in their sins to hear. Lazarus immediately obeyed His command. The one who was dead came to life and walked out of that tomb.

Our Lord’s words, Lazarus come forth, shout to us now and continue to reverberate down thought the corridors of human history. Jesus said that He was glad for “your sakes that you may believe.” Believe what! Believe that only God can give life to the dead. Jesus Christ is God, and only He can give you life. “And this is the record that God has given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11). Do you believe this?