[Narrator] Join our presenters from the United Church of God as we bring you help for today and hope for tomorrow directly from your Bible here on "Beyond Today."
[Gary Petty] Jesus made some remarkable statements about Himself. Some statements even caused many of His followers to leave Him. He said He was the Son of God, the light of the world, the way and the truth and the life. Now, at one point in His ministry, He declared, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live." Now, what does that mean?
As we have seen numerous times on this series on "The Unknown Jesus," we're confronted with another statement by Jesus that is either profound and profound truth or it's the babblings of a madman. Now, the context of where and why He makes this statement is very important. Jesus' friend Lazarus had died and was sealed in a tomb for many days. And when Jesus arrived on the scene, He was met by Martha, which is Lazarus' sister. And she says to Him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Martha believed that Jesus had the power to heal her brother. So let's pick up the story here.
So in your mind you can picture this. This man has died. Jesus comes, he's in the tomb, and the family is all there grieving. And she says to Him, "But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." And Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again.” He's going to come back to life. Okay, your brother's going to come back to life. And Martha says, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day."
Now we're going to come back to this resurrection of the last day in just a few minutes. And Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection." Here's where He makes this statement. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." Do you believe this?" Can you imagine being asked that question? Do you believe this? And she said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who is come into the world.
Now the rest of the story recorded in John 11 shows that Jesus shows up on the scene now, and He calls Lazarus out of the grave, out of the tomb. And this dead man whose body had been decaying came back to life and walked out of his tomb into the daylight, wrapped in the wrappings of the dead, like something out of a bad zombie movie. It's a stunning scene. Now let's go back to what Martha said. What did she mean when she said, "I know that he will rise again in the last day?" And what did Jesus mean when He said, "I am the resurrection?"
We talked about Jesus' teaching concerning the last day in part three of this series titled "The Unknown Jesus: Judge of Humanity." And you can watch that program on beyondtoday.tv. It is a very important part of this series as we explore who Jesus really is and what He really taught. One of Jesus' central messages was that He would return to heaven and someday come back to Earth. And He said that, at His return, there will be a resurrection of the dead back to life.
What I want to do is I want to review a simple premise of the gospel that we've talked about in the last four programs. So we're going to sort of summarize some things. So we can understand why Jesus would make a claim to say, "I am the resurrection." This just isn't some old fashioned religious tale. It is God's personal message to you. A major reason why Christianity is becoming really irrelevant in the postmodern world is because of the belief that human nature is basically good. Therefore many people, even many Christians, don't really see a need to be saved by Jesus Christ. I mean they're words, but they don't mean anything.
Jesus is being, and Christianity is being defined by meaningless slogans. God loves you and accepts you just the way you are. We're all okay as long as we accept one another. And many of these messages are based on the belief that good and evil are determined by personal feelings. But here's what's important, and this is what we've been covering. These beliefs are not based on the teachings of Jesus. All you have to do is spend a little time in solitude. I mean, turn off the radio, turn off everything, go sit alone for a while by yourself, no TV, no stimulus coming in, and just sit there for a little bit, and you're going to begin to realize you're not okay.
We're constantly searching for meaning, for love, for answers to why there's so much suffering, and evil, and anxiety, and most people, if you just sit alone for just a little period of time, you begin to feel anxious. The teachings of Jesus are based in the biblical premise that every human being is made in the image of God. And this means, by the way, that every human being has value to God. But if we are so valuable to God, why is there so much anger, hate, prejudice, inequality, poverty, crime, broken lives, violence, hopelessness? Why? The core problem that Jesus came to answer is how to mend a broken humanity, and that mending begins with each of us individually.
God has allowed all human beings to choose what we think is good and evil. The Bible also shows us that Satan is real, and that God allows him to be the God of this age. This means that every one of us, every one of us, may have been created the image of God, but all of us have been corrupted by the evil and the inner self of who we are. And this means, in your natural state, which we feel comfortable with, you and I are separated from God. That's our natural state of being. I know this flies in the face of the sort of I'm okay, you're okay, let's just get a long new age Christianity. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is about how God is reuniting a separated humanity to himself. The message doesn't mean anything unless we're separated. God is creating a family. Human beings are His children and have the potential to live forever, but here's something that's real hard.
Okay, Listen to what I'm going to say 'cause this is real hard. God won't allow rampant evil to exist in His eternal family, and here's the problem. All of us have evil in our natural human nature. God sent the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God to mend the separation between us and Him. Let's read something that the apostle Paul wrote about, and he wrote this about Jesus, and he's talking about the separation between human beings and God. And he says, “For it pleased the Father, that in Him, in Jesus, all the fullness should dwell.” Everything that God is, is in Jesus Christ. That means He's so much more than just a good teacher.
And we discovered that in part four of this series when we saw that God actually made all the universe through Jesus Christ. “And by Him, by Christ, to reconcile all the things to Himself. Whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace to the blood of the cross. And you” okay, that's everybody, me, you, everybody, everybody that's watching. “And you who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet He has now reconciled. And in the body of His flesh through death to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight.” Jesus' death is not just an example of how a good man suffers for love as some say.
And I'm going to repeat this. Read this with me. Jesus' death isn't just an example of how a good man suffers because of who He is. His shed blood can pay for what you and I deserve before God. We were enemies of God. Now if you find this a little disturbing, let's think about what I just read again. “And you who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” That's what Paul says. “And our alienation from God, we had become the enemy of God.” And you can never know the real Jesus without accepting this as the basic truth of life. When we live our lives, our own feelings, our own ideas, it may feel natural. But unless we are forgiven, we can't be reconciled to God, and we stay the enemies of God.
That doesn't mean God doesn't love us. It means we are relating to Him as an enemy. And remember He also said that in the body of His flesh through death to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight. Okay, let's summarize that. Those are pretty complicated verses there, so let's summarize what Paul says here. The fullness of God dwells in Jesus. Okay? Through the brutal death of Jesus, we can become reconciled to God. We can be brought back into a relationship that we don't naturally have. If you believe that God accepts you because you're a good person or because your heart's filled with love or because God accepts all religious beliefs, then you are denying the real Jesus Christ, and you're pretending to be his follower. Okay?
Without accepting Christ's sacrifice, you are the enemy of God. And today we're dealing with some uncomfortable truths, but they are the teachings of the real Jesus. And then that other statement. Christ's purpose is to present you to God as blameless, to bring us in a relationship with the God the Father. Do you really understand the absolute hopelessness in your life without the remedy of Jesus Christ taking your sins upon Himself so that you can be reconciled to God? There's no other way to get to God.
Now, do you find this message a little uncomfortable? I hope so. I really hope so. I'm reminded of a blog I read recently written by a Christian who was struggling with the teachings of Jesus. The person wondered if she should give up Christianity because maybe she and Jesus had irreconcilable differences. Not maybe I should change to Him. I should just break off this relationship. When Jesus taught people His message of sinfulness and transformation, many of his followers decided the differences were too great. In another place in John's gospel, Jesus was once again talking about the resurrection, and He said, "And this is the will of Him who sent me, God the Father, that everyone who sees the son and believes in Him may have everlasting life," and we're back to that statement, "and I will raise him up at the last day."
And in this passage, He said something to His followers that offended so many that most of his followers decided they couldn't remain in relationship. So that happens today. It happened when he walked the earth. Okay, let's go to John chapter six here. Listen to this. Put yourself in their shoes. He's talking to them. "Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. And he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, lives in Me, and I in him."
John wrote that because those statements. Many of His followers just turned against Him. I mean, it sounds bizarre. If you were there and that man said that to you, what would you think? I mean, many thought there were irreconcilable differences between them and Jesus at this point. If you're going to be an authentic follower of Jesus, you just can't pick and choose some of His sayings and claim to be a follower. You have to accept and understand the difficult teachings.
So what does Jesus mean when He says that a person has to eat His flesh and drink His blood? Now, we read earlier in Paul's writings that God is reconciling children, trying to create children, wayward children, bringing them back through the sacrifice of Jesus for a corrupted human nature. Let's go back and reread what Paul wrote, comparing it to the startling statements that Jesus made. Okay? “And you who are once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled,” okay? He's bringing us back in the body of His flesh through death to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight. Jesus had to become like us to be our brother. He also had to become like us to be a real sacrifice.
You can't be the sacrifice unless you be the sacrifice. So He had to become flesh like us. Your reconciliation with God involves more than accepting the sacrifice of Jesus though for your sins. God's reconciliation through Christ means that His followers must be transformed. Our corrupt human nature must become like Jesus Christ's nature. And this is what Jesus meant when He told His followers to “eat My flesh and drink My blood and abide in Me.” This is a profound truth. Jesus said, "I'm leaving, and when I come back, I want to not live with you. I want to live in you through the power of God's spirit." He's describing a relationship or we allow Him to live in us so that we become like Him.
This imagery is vibrant to Christians who take bread and wine in commemoration of the Passover Jesus observed on the night before His death. They're wonderful symbols representing the broken body and shed blood of Christ. Christianity isn't just believing in Jesus. We are forgiven because we accept His substitute sacrifice for what we deserve, and then we surrender to God so that His spirit is given to us and we learn to be like Jesus. This means that a true follower of Jesus must strive to imitate Him. If you don't know what He taught, if you've never really studied the gospels, if you don't know His life, if you don't know how the New Testament church understood Him, then you can't be a Christian.
How can you be like him if you don't know Him? The Apostle John was the closest disciple to Jesus, and he put it this way. He said, “now, by this we know that we know Him if we keep His commandments. He who says I know him and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word truly the love of God is perfected in Him. And by this, we know that we are in Him.” Now listen, “He who says He abides in Him ought Himself also to walk just as He walked. He who lives in Christ and Christ in us.”
That's a reality from God's Holy Spirit being given to a person. This is what a real Christian is. It's not ceremonies and rituals and saying the right thing and singing nice hymns. Notice how John describes the relationship of a Christian with Christ as imitating Jesus or walking as He walked. Because why? John said because we abide in Him and He abides in us. And this was the teaching of Jesus that offended so many people. They took it literal, they didn't understand what He's saying, and this is the teaching that people today are offended by Jesus. Not because they're taking it literal, but because they don't want to have Him live in them. They want to somehow follow Him, but not imitate Him.
Authentic Christianity isn't just going to church and it's not singing nice songs. Now, going to church and singing hymns are important, but that's not all that this is. Jesus said that His followers are to keep His commandments because they abide or live in Christ. Do you know some of the commandments of Jesus Christ? Do you? Let's look at just a handful of commandments given by Jesus Christ. Okay, let's look at one here. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not commit adultery.” Okay, that's part of the law.
You see it in the Old Testament, the 10 Commandments. He said, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Now, this is the commandment of Jesus. He says, "Okay, followers, people who follow God should not commit adultery." And then He takes it a step further. So in our modern society, you know what He says? If we look at pornography, we're breaking one of His commandments. We're breaking a commandment of Jesus Christ. Okay, let's look at another one. We're just going to look at a few. But I say to you love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.
Wait a minute, wait a minute. I get people at work that treat me really, really bad. I get family members that treat me bad. I want to get back at him. I want to make him pay. And Jesus said, "No. "No, treat them decently." No, surely, He didn't mean that. Actually He did. It's one of His commandments. Let's look at another one. “No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” In our society, we're all used to it, right? Isn't the secret of life just work hard enough and get enough stuff, and a bigger house, and a bigger car, and then two cars, and then three cars, and then more clothes and more clothes, so your closets are full. And then you got to fill up your garage, and then your basement and everything. And then pretty soon, you got storage sheds filled with your stuff, right?
Jesus said, "Who are you serving here? How are you spending your thoughts?" He didn't say it's wrong to have good things. He said, "Who are you serving?" Okay, another commandment. “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” It says if you really want to obey the law of God, treat people the way you want them to treat you. In this rude world, that seems absurd. That seems like, well, only weak people do that. No, this is what the followers of Jesus. This one of His commands. Do you really know Him?
Next one, one more. “And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning," speaking of God, "made them male and female?" So He makes human beings and He makes them male and female, and this is real important. And He said, "For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh." He's talking about marriage. He made man and woman so that there would be marriage.
Now, Jesus is teaching this. So then there are no longer two but one. “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Okay, the bottom line is Jesus said there's one definition for marriage and it's between a man and a woman. That's what He said. And people will tell you Jesus said all kinds of things about this issue, and this is what He said. If you know Him, you know Him. Now you have irreconcilable differences with Jesus. I guess you have to break your relationship, but you can't make Him say something He didn't say. You have to take Him for who He is. These are just a few of Jesus commands.
Do you want Him to live in you? Do you really want Him to live in you? Or maybe you just say, "No, it's time we separate, break off this relationship." Or do you want Him to actually be in you? Or maybe you'll just redefine Jesus into your own image and then ignore who He really is. To be reconciled to God is to accept the sacrifice of Jesus for your sins and strive to have Him live in your life. Nothing else is acceptable to Jesus.
Now we began this program with a statement that Jesus makes, "I am the resurrection." Okay? We also saw that He promises His followers that after they die, He will resurrect them from the dead at the last day. So how is He the resurrection? Most Christians know this. Three days and three nights after Jesus died, what happened? He was resurrected. He became a spiritual being. He returned to His father's throne. His resurrection is essential for Jesus to be who He said He was. He predicted His death, His resurrection. He told His disciples that He will return in power to actually take over the entire world. He is now doing the work of salvation in His followers.
The apostle Paul wrote in His letter to the Romans, "For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Christians are saved by His death, His resurrection, and His life, which now He lives in His followers.” Jesus is returning to resurrect His brethren, His brothers and sisters in the family of God. The Apostle John said Christ followers are now the children of God. That's the relationship of follower of Jesus Christ has with the Father, okay? And it's the relationship He wants to have with you every day.
And then He said, "It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is." Do you really understand what John is saying? Jesus led the way. He showed us that there is a resurrection of the dead. Death isn't the final answer. And when the followers of Jesus are resurrected at the last day, we will be, in a very real way, like Him. Not just an angelic being, but a child of God in ways like our older brother.
In part two of this series, we studied Jesus as the firstborn among brethren. Go to beyondtoday.tv and discover this wonderful message of the gospel. And to help you in your search for the unknown Jesus, we want to send you a free copy of "Jesus Christ: Saved by His Life." The Bible teaches that the death of Jesus as the substitute sacrifice for our sins is a necessary part of God's plan to save us from hopelessness, self-destructive behavior, which we all have, and eternal death. But Christ's sacrifice has no meaning without the resurrection. Jesus is alive, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, calling people to know and follow and worship the true God.
And this study guide will help you understand how Jesus Christ can be real in your life. You can read or download a copy of "Jesus Christ: Saved by His Life" by going to beyondtoday.tv or have a free copy sent to you by calling the number on your screen. And you can catch up on all "Beyond Today" programs on beyondtoday.tv. Being an authentic follower of Jesus Christ isn't just seeing Him as a baby in a manger or a good teacher who died on a cross. Authentic Christianity requires us to discover the unknown Jesus. And in this series, we got a glimpse of Jesus in His first century environment. Then we looked at how He related to His followers as brethren in God's family. In part three, we looked at a side of Jesus that is often denied in new age humanistic Christianity. He is the judge of humanity.
We discovered that Jesus meant what He meant in the next program when He talked about He's the Lord of the Sabbath and how understanding that should affect the life of every Christian. And today we opened the door to understand what Jesus meant when He said, "I am the resurrection." God wants to heal your spiritual emptiness. He wants to forgive you for being His enemy. He wants to give you a life of meaning and hope in the chaos of a world that rejects Him. And He wants to give you eternal life as His child. The Almighty God is carrying out His plan of salvation through His Son, the Messiah, the Judge of humanity, the Savior, the King of kings, the power of the resurrection, Jesus the Christ, and He's calling you to fulfill the purpose of your existence to become a child of God. That's why He's called you.
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet, "Jesus Christ: Saved by His Life." Most people know Jesus died for our sins, but don't know what His life and message were all about. The apostle Paul wrote that Christians are saved by His life. It is only the ongoing life and work of the resurrected Jesus Christ that enables Christians to have a living relationship with God the Father. Order now, call toll free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. Learn the truth from your Bible about Christ's role. It shouldn't be a mystery. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine. Six times, a year you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy and Godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, "Jesus Christ: Saved by His Life" and your free one-year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine, 1-888-886-8632 or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with the United Church of God. If you are looking for a church that encourages living what the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon. [Narrator] The preceding program was presented by the United Church of God. The views and opinions expressed on this program may not be those of this station.