Speaker: Pastor Austen Ukachi
Message delivered on the 12th of DECEMBER, 2014 at Amike Ezzangbo, Ohaukwu Local Government, Ebonyi State, at the commendation and interment service of our dear Pastor Titilope Arinola Aleke)
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in graves will hear his voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28,29).
When Lazarus died, JESUS made a profound statement that should be the basis of our discuss today. He declared to Martha these words, “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?” Martha’s response to Jesus’ words was in the affirmative. She, however, thought JESUS was speaking about a future resurrection, but did not know he was going to raise her brother, Lazarus from the dead.
Notice that before this statement, JESUS had in John 11 verse 23, said categorically to Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” Moments later, Lazarus rose again. In the same vein, our sister Titilope, whom we have come to honour and pay our last respects to will rise again. The same JESUS who declared those prophetic words about Lazarus is here today, and has assured all who die in him that he will bring them back to life when they die. In 1 Thessalonians 4:14 Paul wrote, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in JESUS.” Again in 1 Corinthians 15:21, Paul said, “for since by man came death, by Man also (referring to JESUS) came the resurrection of the dead.” The resurrection of Jesus and his promises are our hope for a future resurrection when we die.
Let us examine JESUS statement in John 11:25, in further detail.
Jesus’ claim to be “the resurrection and the life…” Implies that he has the power to give life, and bring back the dead from life. Only JESUS has the power to bring the dead back to life. We know that during the earthly ministry of Jesus, he raised some who died physically back to life. For example, Jesus raised the daughter of Jarius back to life (Lk.8:40-56). He raised the son of the widow of Nain back to life (Lk.7:11-17). And he raised Lazarus back to life ( John 11:38-44). But there were others like his cousin, John the Baptist whom he did not raise from the dead. He also did not raise James from the dead. The failure to raise these men from the dead was not due to the lack of power to do so, but simply because of his sovereign discretion. If JESUS had wanted to raise our sister Titilope back to life, he would have done so. But a day would come when all the dead in Christ, including Pastor Titilope Aleke will be raised from the dead. We, with hope, look forward to that day.
But, why would Jesus claim to be the resurrection and the life? Bear in mind that at this time he had not gone to the cross. He made this categorical claim because he knew that someday he would go to the cross to confront Satan who had intimidated man with the fear of death. In Hebrews 2:14-15 we read thus: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. And release those through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Death is man’s mortal foe. Death brings fear, torment and sorrow to man. Many live in perpetual fear of death all through their lives. But has JESUS confronted death at the cross and defeated the devil who reigns sway over man through death.
In Colossians 2:14,15 we read about this historic encounter at the cross thus: “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
Thus, at the cross, Jesus defeated the devil and the power of death, once and for all.