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May 18, 2014
Ezekiel 371!14 Ro"an# 8$!11 %o&n 111!4'
I grew up watching old westerns on television. I don’t know if there were just a lot of them on TV or if I just
liked them and I remember them. I would still rather watch a good western that a lot of the stuff that’s on
television most evenings. How many of you remember watching Gunsmoke and onan!a on television and
Gene "utry and #ohn $ayne movies% &ore recently there were the 'lint (astwood spaghetti westerns )I like
those too*. ut in nearly all of these+ at some point+ you will see+ somewhere in town+ posters informing the
public about notorious or dangerous criminals that might be in the area and asking for the assistance of the
public in catching them. These posters would begin with giant letters that said+ ,$"-T(./ or ,0($"0./
and in either case would often spell out some large sum of money that would be paid to the person+ or persons+
who apprehended this particular outlaw. ut if an outlaw was particularly notorious+ or particularly dangerous+
the poster might also say that they were ,$"-T(.+ .(". 10 "2IV(./
-ow imagine if you were walking down the street+ or perhaps visiting the 3ost 1ffice+ and on the wall you saw
a row of posters that looked very much like the ones we see in the movies. 0ight at the top+ it says+
,$"-T(.+ .(". 10 "2IV(/+ and as your curiosity draws you closer+ you reali!e that the picture on the
poster is a picture4 of you. "s you nervously glance around the room and look at the rest of the posters on
the wall+ you also reali!e that many of them also contain familiar faces. The rest of the posters are members of
your family+ friends+ and several of the people that you see in church every 5unday+ maybe even your pastor+
and each of them says+ ,$"-T(.+ .(". 10 "2IV(./
ut as you look over your shoulder to see if anyone else has noticed you+ your eyes scan down the page and
you notice that under the heading+ ,Issuing "uthority/ you see+ ,#esus+ 'ommander of the "rmy of the 2ord+
0ighteous #udge+ 5on of God./ "nd as you hurry out of the 3ost 1ffice hoping no one has recogni!ed you+
you begin to wonder what you might have done to merit such attention.
This morning we will discover that no matter how good you feel+ there’s a good chance that+ one way or
another+ you’re actually dead. ut as bad as that might sound+ the good news is so much better. $e begin this
morning with another familiar story in which #esus receives a message that his good friend 2a!arus is sick.
$e won’t take the time to read the entire story this morning but you can find it in %o&n 111!4' and I
encourage you to read it for yourself( #esus hears that 2a!arus is sick+ but does not rush to his side and
eventually arrives well after 2a!arus has died+ but while the mourners are still staying with 2a!arus’ sisters+
&ary and &artha. "s #esus arrives he meets &artha4
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
But I know that
even now od will !ive you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “#our brother will rise a!ain.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise a!ain in the resurre%tion at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurre%tion and the life. 'he one who believes in me will live, even thou!h they
and whoever lives by believin! in me will never die. *o you believe this+”
“#es, Lord,” she re-lied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the .on of od, who is to %ome into the
0fter she had said this, she went ba%k and %alled her sister Mary aside. “'he 'ea%her is here,” she said,
“and is askin! for you.”
2hen Mary heard this, she !ot u- 3ui%kly and went to him.
5ow Jesus had not yet
entered the villa!e, but was still at the -la%e where Martha had met him.
2hen the Jews who had been with
Mary in the house, %omfortin! her, noti%ed how 3ui%kly she !ot u- and went out, they followed her, su--osin!
she was !oin! to the tomb to mourn there.
2hen Mary rea%hed the -la%e where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had
been here, my brother would not have died.”
2hen Jesus saw her wee-in!, and the Jews who had %ome alon! with her also wee-in!, he was dee-ly
moved in s-irit and troubled.
“2here have you laid him+” he asked.
“6ome and see, Lord,” they re-lied.
'hen the Jews said, “.ee how he loved him7”
But some of them said, “6ould not he who o-ened the eyes of the blind man have ke-t this man from dyin!+”
Jesus, on%e more dee-ly moved, %ame to the tomb. It was a %ave with a stone laid a%ross the entran%e.
“'ake away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there
'hen Jesus said, “*id I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the !lory of od+”
.o they took away the stone. 'hen Jesus looked u- and said, “8ather, I thank you that you have heard me.
knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the -eo-le standin! here, that they may believe
that you sent me.”
2hen he had said this, Jesus %alled in a loud voi%e, “La9arus, %ome out7”
'he dead man %ame out, his
hands and feet wra--ed with stri-s of linen, and a %loth around his fa%e.
Jesus said to them, “'ake off the !rave %lothes and let him !o.”
'herefore many of the Jews who had %ome to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
2a!arus was dead but God still had work for him to do so #esus raised him from the dead so that others might
see and believe.
2a!arus was physically dead+ but #esus has power over death and commanded 2a!arus to return to the living.
In Ezekiel 371!14, we hear the story of an entirely different kind of death4
'he hand of the Lord was on me, and he brou!ht me out by the .-irit of the Lord and set me in the middle of
a valley( it was full of bones.
:e led me ba%k and forth amon! them, and I saw a !reat many bones on the
floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.
:e asked me, “.on of man, %an these bones live+”
I said, “.overei!n Lord, you alone know.”
'hen he said to me, “;ro-hesy to these bones and say to them, <*ry bones, hear the word of the Lord7
is what the .overei!n Lord says to these bones= I will make breath enter you, and you will %ome to life.
atta%h tendons to you and make flesh %ome u-on you and %over you with skin( I will -ut breath in you, and you
will %ome to life. 'hen you will know that I am the Lord.>”
.o I -ro-hesied as I was %ommanded. 0nd as I was -ro-hesyin!, there was a noise, a rattlin! sound, and the
bones %ame to!ether, bone to bone.
I looked, and tendons and flesh a--eared on them and skin %overed them,
but there was no breath in them.
'hen he said to me, “;ro-hesy to the breath( -ro-hesy, son of man, and say to it, <'his is what the .overei!n
Lord says= 6ome, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.>”
-ro-hesied as he %ommanded me, and breath entered them( they %ame to life and stood u- on their feet?a vast
'hen he said to me= “.on of man, these bones are the -eo-le of Israel. 'hey say, <@ur bones are dried u-
and our ho-e is !one( we are %ut off.>
'herefore -ro-hesy and say to them= <'his is what the .overei!n Lord
says= My -eo-le, I am !oin! to o-en your !raves and brin! you u- from them( I will brin! you ba%k to the land
'hen you, my -eo-le, will know that I am the Lord, when I o-en your !raves and brin! you u- from
I will -ut my .-irit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. 'hen you will know
that I the Lord have s-oken, and I have done it, de%lares the Lord.>”
The people of Israel were standing upright and taking in nourishment+ they were alive+ but dead in spirit.
They were prisoners and slaves in a nation far from home while their own nation had been devastated+
depopulated+ and its cities left in ruins. God’s people had no hope. "nd even so+ God called to them and
restored them to life.
The people of Israel were dead in spirit and filled with hopelessness+ but God has power over hopelessness+
called them to return to the living+ and filled them with hope.
8inally+ as we read 3aul’s letter to the church in 0ome we find yet another sort of death4 )Ro"an# 8$!11*
'hose who live a%%ordin! to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires( but those who live in
a%%ordan%e with the .-irit have their minds set on what the .-irit desires.
'he mind !overned by the flesh is
death, but the mind !overned by the .-irit is life and -ea%e.
'he mind !overned by the flesh is hostile to od(
it does not submit to od>s law, nor %an it do so.
'hose who are in the realm of the flesh %annot -lease od.
#ou, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the .-irit, if indeed the .-irit of od
lives in you. 0nd if anyone does not have the .-irit of 6hrist, they do not belon! to 6hrist.
But if 6hrist is in
you, then even thou!h your body is subAe%t to death be%ause of sin, the .-irit !ives life be%ause of
0nd if the .-irit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is livin! in you, he who raised 6hrist
from the dead will also !ive life to your mortal bodies be%ause of his .-irit who lives in you.
"s 3aul writes to the church in 0ome+ the people are alive+ and are a part of the church+ but too many of them
are running their lives according to the desires of their earthly bodies. They choose to do things simply
because they feel good+ eat things because they taste good+ do good works because of the public
acknowledgement they get+ come to church because they want other people to respect them+ and not because
any of these things further the cause of #esus 'hrist. 3aul says that these people are alive+ but dead: alive+ but
not really living.
ut instead of being a message of doom and gloom+ 3aul’s letter to the church is a message of hope because he
doesn’t end there. 3aul’s message reminds us that the 5pirit of God is the source of all hope. The 5pirit of
God had the power to raise #esus from the dead and that same 5pirit is living+ even now+ inside of you.
If you remember nothing else+ remember the image of that wanted poster with your name on it.
God wants you+ dead or alive.
$hen God wants you+ even if you are physically dead+ like 2a!arus+ #esus has the power over life and death.
$hen God wants you+ even if you are dead in spirit+ depressed+ devastated+ and hopeless like the people of
Israel+ God has power over hopelessness and despair+ can restore you to life+ and fill you with hope. $hen
God wants you+ even if you are spiritually dead because of sin+ the 5pirit of God has the power to raise you to
God wants you+ whether you are alive or dead.
"nd if God wants you+ he has the power+ not only to give you life+ but to make your life worth living.
God wants you dead or alive but you must choose.
$ill you will be dead+ alive+ or really living%
<ou have been reading a message presented at Trinity =nited ðodist 'hurch on the date noted at the top of the first
page. 0ev. #ohn 3artridge is the pastor at Trinity of 3erry heights in &assillon+ 1hio. .uplication of this message is a part
of our &edia ministry+ if you have received a blessing in this way+ we would love to hear from you. 2etters and donations
in support of the &edia ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Trinity =nited ðodist 'hurch+ 9>?> 2incoln
$ay (.+ &assillon+ 1hio ;;@;@. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. <ou
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for 3astor #ohn 1nline*. These messages can also be found online at httpCDDwww.scribd.comD3astor #ohn 3artridge. "ll
5cripture references are from the -ew International Version unless otherwise noted.
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