Do You Believe This?

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 11:17-27 | April 21 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
April 21
Do You Believe This? | John 11:17-27
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated, at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. And so we pray, O Lord, that we might turn our minds now to heavenly things. We trust that they have been on heavenly things. That we might be heavenly people, fit for a heavenly reality. Give us ears to hear, give me the words to speak, and give us life through Your Word. In Jesus we pray, amen.

My boys and I were watching Jeopardy! the other night because that’s the sort of thing that we like to do. And I don’t know if you’ve seen, but over the last couple of weeks there’s somebody re-writing the Jeopardy! record book. He, I think in 12 days has $800,000. He’s winning by leaps and bounds. He set the single-day record, $140,000 or something. He gets to final jeopardy and he’s leagues ahead of everyone, and then he bets almost all of it and he wins. Very impressive.

What’s more impressive is when I get a question right when we’re playing, [laughter] and my kids are ready for me to go and fly out to California and try out, but I’m not going to quit my day job. We were all pretty excited watching, was it on Friday? That we all got a question right. I think the category was something like “Endings” and it said something like “this day may have been the ending of the Middle Ages, but this day in 1517 with Martin Luther marked the beginning of something else,” and I was glad to know my kids said “The Reformation!” And they were right. Hopefully, you remember two years ago, 1517, well, that was 500 years ago, but we celebrated the 500th anniversary two years ago.

Sure, we all like anniversaries, our own anniversaries, special holidays, holy days.

Let me give you an anniversary that I bet you were not aware of: This is the 100th anniversary this year of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. What began as a sports cartoon called “Champs and Chumps” by Robert Ripley in 1918 was renamed “Believe It or Not” and they added now not just sports trivia but all sorts of other strange curiosities, and it premiered as “Believe It or Not” in the “New York Globe” in the fall of 1919. You’ve probably heard of it since then; the franchise has expanded into radio, television, film, books, internet. I even found out as I was looking at this a video game, not sure how that works, and in museums. I bet most of you have seen or heard of some Ripley’s “Strange But True” oddities.

I went to their website yesterday. I confess I don’t think I’ve been there before, and I found headlines like this: “Doctor Discovers Four Bees Living Inside a Woman’s Eye.” Ouch. “The Man Who Ate an Airplane Piece by Piece.” And it said how over years he would take just one little piece and he would grind it up and over years he ate an airplane. Might want to find a better hobby. [laughter] “Frozen Ghost Apples Appear in Michigan Orchard.” That was from just a couple of weeks ago; true story.

The whole franchise is more than a little weird, but the name is genius: “Believe It or Not,” because they put before you, say, live footage of a deadly, carnivorous, cannibalizing rabbit and they say “believe it or not,” and actually that one is true. They’ve just spotted this Canadian hare that is a meat-eater and sometimes eats some of its own species. Sorry for that downer. [laughter]

Now what does this have to do with Easter? Except perhaps being the worst introduction to an Easter sermon ever. [laughter] Well, I couldn’t help but think about it as I came to the central question in this text from John chapter 11. “Believe it or not.”

Jesus asked the question, an infinitely, I hope you can agree, eternally more important question to Martha and to us, about what we believe. Follow along as I read from John chapter 11, verse 17 through 27.

“Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

The question for Martha and the question for us is right there at the end of verse 26, clear as day: Do you believe this?

It would be easy to over-simplify that question on a day like today and make it into something like “is Easter true?” or even more generically “do you like Easter?” But we need to press in a little more. We shouldn’t isolate Jesus’ words into just a one-dimensional theological quiz that sort of dropped out of heaven: Jesus’ resurrection, yes or no?

We need to understand something about Martha, and then something about the question Jesus asked, and then something about faith itself.

So let’s start by looking at Martha because as we understand who Martha is and what she’s about, you may find that you have more in common with Martha than you thought. Notice first of all that Martha was on familiar terms with Jesus. We had already seen, if you were here last week, in verse 3, “so the sisters, Martha and Mary, sent to Him, saying ‘Lord, he whom You love is ill.'” They already had a relationship with this Jesus, they, they knew Him.

There’s a story, a famous story, in Luke chapter 10 about Mary and Martha and they’re hosting Jesus in their home and Martha is very busy with all of the arrangements and all of the food preparation, something I’m sure none of you can relate to, and Mary, that good-for-nothing sister, is sitting at the feet of Jesus. Now, they were probably a quite well-to-do family. They had a home that was big enough to host Jesus and presumably some disciples who were there with the teaching. Later, in chapter 12, Mary will anoint Jesus with very expensive perfume, worth a year’s wages. We see in verse 19 that many of the Jews had come out to console Martha and Mary, from Jerusalem, just two miles, or about 1.7 miles away, this town Bethany. They had many friends or family, or perhaps even in that day they would have paid professional mourners, literal wailing women, of come and express grief, so many of these people are coming.

And Jesus is on intimate terms with this family. We read in verse 5, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Where else in the Gospels do we have so many family members mentioned by name: Mary, Martha, Lazarus. Jesus had been in their home, they had cooked meals for him, they knew Him and He knew them intimately. Martha was on familiar terms with Jesus.

And then notice she was interested in getting help from Jesus. We already saw in verse 3 the sisters had sent to get help from Him and now in verse 20 Martha alone went to look for Him. We are tempted to speculate again that Martha is full of action and activity and Mary is more contemplative, remains seated in the house, but it may be that she just didn’t know that Jesus was nearby. But Martha did, and she went out. Jesus is coming and she wants His help.

And then notice Martha was certain there was something special about Jesus. She says in verse 21, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died, I know that You could have done something.” This is quite a lot of confidence in this man. “You could have prevented death.”

And then she says even more, “but now I know whatever You ask from God, God will give it to You. You have a special relationship, a special connection with God.”

I never mind when people ask me, “Pastor, could you pray for me?” or “Pastor, here’s a need in my family. Would you pray for me?” All of your pastors are happy to do that, but once in a while we’ll get from a friend or even a family member, sometimes a little hint that you may think that the pastors have a special “Bat-line” to God. “You know, I’ve been having regular people pray for this, but if I could dial in a few pastors, maybe get a missionary or two, to really send this straight up, I know that I gotta go through, you know, voice mail and I got text this, but if you could go [sound effect] right up there… ”

Okay, it doesn’t work like that, it doesn’t work like that. We all have access to the same God, in the same way, through Christ.

But Martha says even more than that. She says “I know that what You ask for, God’s gonna do it.” She was certain that there was something different about Jesus; maybe a prophet, a holy man, a very pious man, a wonder worker, “you can do things the rest of us can’t do.”

And then notice about Martha that she’s committed to basic theological orthodoxy. Now where do we see that? Well, we see it in this discussion about the resurrection. Jesus says in verse 23 “your brother will rise again.” Martha says “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus is playing a bit coy with her. He’s going to press in farther in just a moment, but she says “well, yes, resurrection, of course, I do believe in the resurrection from the dead.”

This was the majesty opinion among the Jews in the first century. If you know your Bibles, you may know that there was a split between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. When you hear Pharisees, you tend to think “ooh, bad guys.” But you have to remember the Pharisees were the conservative people, they were the people who believed the Bible was true and they believed in the supernatural, they believed in the resurrection. The Sadducees were a bit more compromised and not willing to go all the say with some of the more supernatural bits in the Jewish faith.

For example, Acts 23 says “When He said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the assembly was divided. The Sadducees say there is no resurrection and that there are neither angels nor spirits. But the Pharisees acknowledge them all.” So the Pharisees were the good, conservative Bible people: “We believe it, there’s a resurrection.”

And Martha, like most of the Jews, acknowledged it as well. They knew of passages in the Old Testament like Daniel 12:2: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, others to shame and to everlasting contempt.”

Martha knew her theology. She affirmed the right things. She shared in common with Jesus and with most of the Jews these basic tenets of theological orthodoxy: “Yes, yes, Jesus, there is a resurrection. I get that.”

Now why does it matter to understand this about Martha? Because I want you to see that for all that Martha has going for her, for all of her familiarity with Jesus, He still presses in on this one question. He doesn’t say to Martha: “Hey, I’m here. I love you. We’re close. You got good theology. It’s gonna be okay. Don’t worry about it.”

No, with all of that He presses in and He says “I got another question for you, though, Martha. Do you believe this? This, about Me?”

And the claims that He is making for Himself are absolutely audacious. And some of you, perhaps, are very much like Martha. And you are familiar with Jesus, you like Jesus. If there’s two teams and there’s “For Jesus” and “Anti Jesus,” you want to be on the “For Jesus” team. Rah rah, Jesus, yes!

You want Jesus to help you, just like Martha. Maybe even when you get into a real tough spot, you, you come to Jesus sometimes. “It’s been a long time, Jesus, but I’m sick” and “it’s been a long time, Jesus, but I’m scared.” Like Martha, you want help from Him.

And maybe like Martha you understand that there is something unique about this man. He’s not ordinary, He’s not like everybody else. He’s special, He’s got some connection with God. He does things that nobody else can do. You get that about Jesus. And maybe even like Martha, you have basic tenets of theological orthodoxy. You’ve heard a lot of true things. You don’t have a problem checking off a box. “Sure, I’ll agree with that. God created, okay. There’s a heaven, all right. Jesus is a special person, okay, I get that. God wants us to be loving and kind to one another; all right, sure, I can check off some basic boxes.” Maybe even you’re willing to check off “yes, there’s a resurrection. Why not? That sounds good. I’m happy for that. New bodies at the end of the age.”

But Jesus does not let Martha stay there and Jesus does not want to let you just stay there, just on familiar terms, want His help, know He’s special, basic tenets of theological orthodoxy. No, Jesus presses in even more. You see, the Bible is full of people who got a lot of things right and didn’t get the most important thing right.

There’s a story in Mark chapter 12 about a scribe who says to Jesus, “what’s the greatest commandment?” and Jesus says “well, to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself,” and the scribe says “well, bang on, Jesus, you are right.” And the scribe says “of course, yes, we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and we should love our neighbor as ourself, and on this rests the whole law and the prophets.” And you know what Jesus says to that man? “I tell you the truth: You are not far from the kingdom of heaven.”

Now you can take that as good news: “Hey, you’re close.” But you have to take the implication as well: “You’re not in.”

Here’s a scribe, he is an expert in the law. He is a Bible scholar. And he comes to Jesus to ask Him a question. He must like this Jesus, when many of the scribes do not. And Jesus gives him an answer and the scribe even says “You’re right, Jesus” so the scribe’s got a pretty good understanding.

The scribe is an expert in the Bible, he likes Jesus, he understands Jesus gives the right answer, the scribe himself even gives a right answer, and for all of that, Jesus says “you’re close, but you’re not in.”

“Because you can be very close, and until you really know who I am,” Jesus says, “and you really commit yourself unreservedly to Me, you’re only close, but you’re not in.”

You can live your whole life around Jesus, familiar with Jesus, filled with good ideas about Jesus, and still not really believe in Jesus.

So last week, was it just last week? Was the Master’s? I have played golf two times in my whole life. [laughter] I am horrible. I, I, I, you don’t want to be playing behind me, because I keep missing the ball, and then I pretend like I was just taking a practice shot, and I try again, as I, I can’t even hit the ball. Should just use a putter. Or I should just throw it. I’m terrible. So I’m not, I don’t play golf, but I like sports, and I follow golf, you know, when something exciting is happening. I have a few people that I like to cheer for and maybe when there’s a major tournament I’ll look and I’ll tune in.

There’s a lot of people that sort of, sort of follow Jesus like that. Here, there, once in a while, something exciting is happening.

Now you may say “well, but that’s fine because, you know, CBS or whoever is airing the thing, they’re happy to get eyeballs on it. You know, just go ahead and watch some golf. Better some than not at all.”

Okay. Except there’s a big difference. Golf is happy to have fans; Jesus is looking for disciples.

He’s not interested in just occasionally well-wishers. Not fans, but faith is what He wants.

And so when He asks this question: “Do you believe this?” don’t hear Him saying “do you like Me? Do you know true things about Me?” He’s asking much more than that.

Look at the three statements. We understand something about Martha, now you need to understand what Jesus is actually saying. He makes three statements about Himself before He presses home the question to Martha and to us.

So first, in verse 25, He says “I am the resurrection and the life.” Another one of these “I am” statements. Martha thinks He’s, well, yes, he states talking about a general resurrection. We all get that, we’re good Jews, but Jesus is talking about something more pointed, more controversial.

It’s like if you walked into your bank and you said “I’m interested in getting a loan” and you sit down with the president and you said “might it be possible that this institution, that you might approve that you could give me a loan?” and the president stands up and says “A loan? I’ll tell you the truth… I am the bank.” “Okay, man, take a vacay, all right? [laughter] Just… you’re a banker, I thought you got a lot of holidays, just relax.” “I am the bank.”

Jesus has the audacity to say “you want to talk resurrection? You’re looking at it. I’m the resurrection. I’ll be the first fruits of the resurrection. It all happens through Me, because of Me. I am the resurrection.”

He makes a statement: “Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

See, Martha was speaking with generalities, Jesus wants to press through to particulars.

“Yes, I believe resurrection. I believe, yeah, that’s gonna happen.” “No, no, no. What do you believe about Me?”

Many of us are content with just generalities: There’s a God, there’s a heaven, He wants us to be good, He sent Jesus to do something…. And Jesus says “no, no, no. I want you to press right through. Here’s what I want you to know: Though you experience natural death, if you’re in Me, you will possess eternal life.”

So He’s thinking of the deceased believer who lives!

And then He makes a complementary statement, here’s the third of His statements in verse 26: “And everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

So if in verse 25 He’s speaking the deceased believer who lives, now He’s speaking of the living believer who will not die. In other words, He says “if you, in your natural existence have a life of faith,” that’s what He means, everyone who lives and believes, “then you shall never taste eternal death.”

There’s a play on words because He’s bouncing back and forth between the natural death and the supernatural death, or the first death, which all of us will face, and the second death, which comes to those who are dead in their sins and trespasses. Jesus wants to move Martha from generalities to specifics: “Do you believe this?”

We have to understand something about Martha, something about Jesus’ claims, and then third we need to understand if we’re going to hear the question rightly, something about faith. You see, not all believing is real believing. If you keep your finger there in John chapter 11, turn to the beginning of the book to John chapter 2, the end of John chapter 2. You may know that there’s a very definite structure to John’s Gospel: There are seven “I am” statements and there are seven miracles, or signs, in the first half of John’s book. The seventh is the raising of Lazarus, which is the section we’re in; the first is this miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus turns the water into wine and it’s the very best wine they’ve ever tasted.

Well, on the heels of that and the cleansing of the temple, we read in John 2 verse 23: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He was doing.” Now you think, “well, good on ya! You believed. This is great. We’re only two chapters in, one miracle down. People already believing.”

Not so fast. “But Jesus, on His part, did not entrust Himself to them because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man.”

In the Greek, the word in verse 23 for “believe” is the same as the word translated “entrust” in verse 24. You could say “they believed in Jesus, but Jesus did not believe in them.” He understands that there’s faith, and then there’s faith. He knew what was in their hearts and He understood that they got excited, as humans do, “there’s something exciting happening here. This guy did a miracle! Man, it’s blowing our mind. And then He cleansed the temple and that was crazy and yeah, yeah! Team Jesus! I’m ready to sign up.”

But Jesus knew their hearts. He knew that this so-called faith was fickle faith. It was nothing but going along with the crowd, about being caught up in a moment, about siding with Jesus for His impressive signs. But it wasn’t real, lasting faith. They believed in Jesus; Jesus did not believe in them.

Historically, when theologians have talked about faith, they’ve talked about faith having three elements: Knowledge, assent, and trust. And you can sound really smart if you get the Latin words: Assensus, fidiucia, and notitia.

So notitia, or knowledge, means “content.” So biblical faith has content. There’s things that you understand.

But it’s not just that, it’s also assent. So you say “I have a conviction that those things that I understand, that those are true.”

But it’s not just knowledge or assent, it’s also fiduciary, that is, it’s a deposit of trust, dependence, reliance… That’s faith.

I’ve given the analogy before of the story, whether it’s true or not, it should be a true story, of the man who was one of these tightrope walkers and went across a cable across Niagara Falls and did it backwards and forwards and did it with sacks of potatoes on his, his back and did it with all manner of trickery as he went and people were applauding and people were celebrating, and then he said “Who thinks that I could carry another human on my back and go across back and forth on this tightrope?” and people said “yes, we believe you can do it.” And then he said, “who will be my first volunteer?” [laughter] Knowledge, assent, not trust.

Faith is sort of like stepping out onto a frozen pond of ice. Now the ice is what saves you. The ice is what keeps you from sinking. Growing up in Michigan, played pond hockey all the time. You had to send some poor soul to go out and see if it’s frozen. [laughter] You’d see how far your hockey stick could smash it and you’d pick up the biggest rock you could, and of course you never thought to think “that rock probably isn’t as heavy as me,” but you’d throw it out to the middle.

Now if your faith is weak, or your faith is strong, it’s the faith to go out on the ice that matters. You may be zipping around skating absolutely confident that nothing is going to happen, or you may be tip-toeing not quite sure this is going to hold you. Sometimes our faith is of different degrees. But what is it that keeps you up? Well, faith is but the instrument that gets you active. It’s the thickness of the ice. It’s the object of the faith.

And so it is with Christ. We’re not saved by faith as if faith were the work and God were just weighing “okay, you had a lot of bad deeds, but let me see how good your faith is. Well, your faith is 24k gold faith. You’re saved.”

No. Faith is but the instrument of receiving salvation. You’re, you’re not held up. You can have all the faith in the world and go skating on Lake Norman and you’re going to sink. And you can have little faith and go out on a frozen pond and it holds because it’s the object of your faith.

But it’s not faith if you just sit there and you look at the ice and you say “I have a great understanding of the properties of ice, and I understand chemically what’s going on, and I, I assent absolutely that that ice will hold a human being. No doubt about it in my mind.” And you never go out on the ice.

You see, when Jesus says “do you believe this?” He’s saying “Martha, if you believe it, it will affect you deeply. Nothing will be the same.”

And it’s true for each one of us. If you really believe this about Jesus in John chapter 11, it will affect how you view the past. You’ll say “yeah, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. I believe that.” And that was just a foretaste of His own resurrection, which is the heart of the Gospel.

We have in Christianity a religion that is absolutely based on history. It’s not just, it’s not a metaphor, it’s not a symbolic victory of light over darkness, or good triumphing over evil. No, it is based on history, that something happened in a specific place with a specific man on a specific day… He died and then that Sunday morning He wasn’t dead anymore.

And listen, if you are not sure about Christianity, or maybe you came here this morning and you thought you were sure and now you’re not so sure you are sure, you can get hung up on all sorts of things: Well, creation and evolution, or heaven or hell, I don’t know if I can believe in hell, or I’m not sure that I like what the Bible says about sex, or all sorts of contested point. And they’re important, but let me give you some advice: Start here. That is, start with the resurrection. Did that happen? Because if that didn’t happen, Paul says “you are of all people most to be pitied.” Just find something better to do with your Sundays.

But if it did happen: Jesus died, really died, and He rose, He really rose… That’s gonna affect everything, and that’s gonna shape, okay, if that happened, then maybe I can believe these other miracles. And if that’s not too big, maybe there is a God who created everything in the space of six days out of, out of nothing. It will affect how you view the past.

And if you believe this, it will affect how you view the present. Some of us may be very quick to say “yes, it’s Easter, of course I believe it.” But just stop for a moment to think about what you’re saying, how crazy it sounds. You believe there was this Jewish man and He was the Son of God incarnate. And you believe that this Jesus of Nazareth, just a normal name from a little teeny town, just Jeff from Monroe, another person, looks just like you, that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, He died on a cross to take away our sins. A few days later He rose from the grave, and you believe that this dead man came back to life and He ate fish and He showed off His scars and He walked through walls and people poked into His side and you believe He’s coming back to earth someday… Yeah, that is what I believe.

Well, that’s good. That’s what the Bible says.

But then the next question is, what difference does that make? If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, do you listen to Him as if He were God? If you believe He rose from the dead, do you follow Him as one who is worthy of all adoration and praise? If you believe that those who trust in Him will be with Him in glory forever, why do some of us show such little concern to be with Him now?

What could be crazier than to say that this man defeated death and He has no claim over my life? Is that what we want to say?

No, if you really believe this, it will affect how you view the past, how you view the present, how you view the future.

You cannot ignore the question of what comes after death. Jim Elliot, the famous missionary martyr, wrote in his journal “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

While some people may tell you that you can have your best life now, the message of the Gospel is no, no, no…. Your best life later. Later, with Jesus.

We all will die, but not everyone will really die, that’s what Jesus says. Not eternally. You won’t stay dead. If you are in Christ, you really believe in Christ, it means that when your heart stops beating and your lungs stop breathing and your synapses stop firing, that in that next instant of your existence you have never been more alive.

And at the end of the age your body will be raised and you will live forever in the new heavens and the new earth.

Everyone dies. I saw a poll on that recently. Quite nearly 100% die. You have Enoch, you have Elijah, they’re throwing it off, but it’s very nearly 100%. It’s a certainty. Whether God gives us seven days or seven years or seven decades or past the century mark… Your life will end, my life will end, that’s not open for debate. There’s no pill that can prevent it, no surgery that can finally reverse it. There’s no diet, there’s no drink, there’s no book that you can read, there’s no meditation that you can do, there’s no mindfulness that you can trick yourselves into. You and I will die.

What is not determined then? Well, from God it is, but from our vantage point it may seem very open, and that is whether you will experience a second death. Whether that next instant in your existence after you breathed your last will be the beginning of eternal pain or the beginning of life that no eye has seen nor ear has heard, no mind can even conceive.

So don’t ignore death.

Would anyone conclude from your priorities and mine, would anyone conclude from your life and from mine, would anyone conclude from your Sundays or your Monday through Saturdays, would anyone conclude from your tears, from your hopes, from what you cry about, what you laugh about, from your prayers, from your worship… That you really believe that this Jesus of Nazareth is the resurrection and the life?

Is there a way to make sense of your life apart from an empty tomb?

What happens if by some catastrophic piece of evidence, beyond a shadow of a doubt some scientist said “we’ve, we’ve, we’ve dug up the bones. 100% DNA testing, carbon dating, everything, absolutely certain, bones of Jesus. He’s not alive.”

Is your life ruined? Or do you figure, “hmm, I have more time in my week.”

Would anyone supposed from the way you and I live our lives that the only way to make sense of you is that Jesus died and Jesus lives? Can’t make sense of your priorities, can’t make sense of the things you say yes to, can’t make sense of the things you say no to, can’t make sense of the way you’re raising your kids, can’t make sense of what you do with your time, what you do with your money. I can’t make sense of any of it, except that Jesus died, and Jesus rose, and Jesus is coming again.

Many of us have said these words a hundred or a thousand times: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified dead and buried. He descended into hell. And on the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, where He sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

And the question is very simple, and it is of eternal significance: Do you believe it or not?

Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, we give thanks that You have hidden these things from the wise and from the learned and You have revealed them to little children, and to those who are humble enough to despair of their own righteousness and look to You alone. None of us are good enough. None of us are getting this thing right. None of us want to stand before You, our holy eternal Maker, in our own supposed righteousness, our own filthy rags. We need a savior. So we give You all the glory and the honor that You sent one for us, the Lord Jesus, Your Son, to die for sinners according to the Scriptures and be raised on the third day, and to come again to judge the living and the dead. Help us to believe. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.