Date: 25 May, 2014
Text: John 11:1-45
Title: Believest Thou This.
Theme: The resurrection of Lazarus, whom Jesus loved.
John had a purpose in writing this book where our story is recorded.
John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
God wants us to have this Life and we must have it or we die.
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
exp. I won't repreach our resurrection Sunday message, but I will remind us that we are all in Adam. But, we are not all in Christ. But, ALL, who are in Christ, shall be made alive.
Jesus is going to exhibit this morning one of his purposes in coming to earth.
Hebrews 2: 14 ¶ Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
This story a premier example of the power of God to give life. He breathed into Adam's "nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7)
Stories like these bring us to say with Paul in I Cor. 15, "55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is difficult in 30-40 minutes to cover a passage of this size in much detail. So, we are going to take this passage this morning and think about it as it is - a wonderful story.
I. The setting of our story.
1 ¶ Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
exp. The story begins as a love story.
· The city, Bethany, is described in God's holy Word as, "the town of Mary and her sister Martha." I imagine there were many famous or wealthy citizens of that town but God viewed it by these two humble believers.
· John reminds us that this Mary was the one who lovingly sacrificially annointed the Lord, making her famous to all who had already heard of her annointing.
· The sisters remind Jesus of his love for Lazarus. "He whom thou lovest is sick."
app. This is an important story because it is Scripture. But, it is here for our learning. Our story is not recorded here but we are as precious to Jesus as these believers in Bethany.
1) Jesus knows where you live.
2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
2) Jesus knows how we worship.
ill. Daniel - Daniel 6: 10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
3) Jesus loves everyone of us with a love that would take him to the cross.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
app. Jesus was bound by love to this hurting family.
II. Act One: Jesus postpones his coming.
A. Jesus knew that Lazarus would not die.
4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death,
exp. This is a factual statement uttered by the God who can not lie. Our concept of death is separation of body and soul. We see that as permanent. God sees death as the separation of the soul from the body and cast into a lake of fire.
Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
note: Re 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power,
ill. Job put it this way. Job 19:26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
exp. The body is destroyed but the real Job, his soul, was given a new ETERNAL body.
app. We all know that at some point we will all die, unless we are raptured. This sickness was not unto the eternal death. Even temporal death would be graciously defeated by the power of God.
B. Jesus waited to prove God's power.
but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
exp. It hurt the heart of our loving Lord to allow this suffering in one whom he loved. BUT, He allowed it for the good of all those involved.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
ill. Joseph knew a bit of suffering in his life. Here are some questions we could ask Joseph.
· Was it good to be hated by your brothers?
· Was it good to be sold into slavery?
· Was it good to be lied about because you would not sin and hurt your master?
· Was it good to be put in prison?
· Was it good to be forgotten in that awful place?
Joseph would wisely smile and answer....
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
app. Believer you may have a trial in your life and Satan wants you to think God meant it unto evil. But, even though there is delayed grace, we must remember that this is for good and thank God for having His way in our lives. The weeping women in Bethany didn't understand why Jesus wasn't running back to meet their need.
III. Act Two: The disciples confusion.
A. Safety is within our control.
1. They viewed Judaea as dangerous.
7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
exp. The disciples were smart enough to know that you don't stick your head in a noose. They wanted to keep their skin for as long as the could and wanted to be body guards for Jesus.
ill. Peter's rebuke from the Lord comes in a similar situation. Jesus has said that he must go to the cross. Mt 16:22-23 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
app. What if Jesus was to die there? Jesus did not live his life in fear. He lived his life in the will of God. It wasn't fatalism. If was THE LIFE OF FAITH which daily discerned the Father's will. The disciples thought they controlled their destiny and planned accordingly.
2. Jesus knew that safety was in the centre of God's will.
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
exp. Jesus wasn't walking with sin blocking his discernment of God's will. Nothing was hid from Jesus.
ill. Elisha's response to the Shunamite's tears.
2Ki 4:27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.
note: Jesus never walked in darkness. He lived in the Light of God.
app. Friend, are you walking in darkness or in the light of God. Do you feel like your stumbling about or do you have a sense of God's leading. The disciples should have known that their MASTER was guided by His father and if He must return, then it would be within the providential protection of God.
B. There is only one correct use of the word sleep.
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
exp. Jesus is not weeping. We can't blame the disciples for their misunderstanding. It would be a natural misunderstanding for them to think sleep. Jesus is teaching them a term which we studied as we looked at the rapture of the church.
question: How do you view death and sleep?
ill. Paul's Jewish History lesson in Acts 13.
Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
app. The disciples are partially right. "If he sleep, he shall do well." Friends if you "sleep" at the end of your life, ye shall do well.
C. What did Jesus mean that, "this sickness is not unto death?"
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
exp. Our Lord exhibits a purpose for his absence during a great time of trial.
ill. David Brainerd, David Livingstone, Adonirum Judson, Jim Eliot (and the other 4 missionaries) all suffered much for the cause of Christ. Their stories have strengthened the faith of millions of believers around the world.
app. The greatest burdens in our lives can be the greatest blessing to our life, as God teaches us about himself and His power. Our testimony can also impact others who are facing a similar trial.
D. The Lord is going to be killed.
16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
exp. Thomas shows his pessimism as he says, "Well since he is going to die, let's loyally die with him."
quote: Ironside "Thomas speaks up. We call him 'doubting Thomas' sometimes, and yet I do not know that he always deserved to be so spoken of....Dydimus means 'twin.' I wonder who the other twin was. Perhaps if you look into the mirror you will see the other one."
app. We've seen the disciples confusion but how often when a trial comes are we in the same condition of doubt and misunderstanding?
IV. Act Three: The Sister's Accusation.
A. Martha's reunion with Jesus after the death of her brother.
1. She has had four days of grief.
17 ¶ Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
exp. Their hearts had suffered much in those days immediately following their loss. They had contemplated death and eternity. Their faith had been challenged and praise God it had stood this severe test.
2. She went to Jesus with faith.
20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
exp. Martha exhibits faith in Jesus even when all hope was gone.
ill. Remember Paul's shipwreck and going through the storm. It was when their was no earthly chance of survival that God stepped in.
Acts 27: 20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
21 ¶ But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
app. Can you continue in faith when it seems like there is no longer any hope? Martha did.
3. Jesus assures her of his life.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
exp. Oh may our hearts meditate upon this verse. If you have Jesus - YOU HAVE RESURRECTION. If you have Jesus - YOU HAVE LIFE. Lazarus died believing in God and he had what Jesus was going to so freely give.
app: This is a glorious story which we find here. How amazed we are at what Jesus does and how we anticipate the wonderful end of this chapter. But, how much more amazing will be our delight to participate by being resurrected by JESUS CHRIST. Do you have Jesus?
4. Jesus encourages her to faith in him for everlasting life.
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
app question: Have you ever confessed Christ? Can you say that you believe Jesus is the Messiah? That He is the very Son of God making Him who he claimed to be, GOD IN FLESH. That he came into the world to save sinners.
1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
exp. Martha's confession is precious as it comes at a time when life is very real.
B. Mary's reunion with Jesus.
1. She comes in response to his call.
28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
exp. "The Master is come and calleth for thee." Most people would think that the master should come to the one who is hurting. But, here the Master calls the one who is hurting to come to Himself. Notice he personally comes to both. One is more inclined to seek him and the other he must call. HOW HE CARED FOR THEM.
1 Pe 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
2. She says the same thing as Martha.
32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
transition: This question voiced again, begins the heartack of our Lord.
V. Act four: The Heartbreak of our Lord.
A. An understanding of the devastation of sin.
33 ¶ When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
exp. If you've ever wondered at the humanity of Christ, consider how often we find him heartbroken and weeping.
Heb 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
app. The God who commanded us to weep with those who weeps, shares our tears this morning. He knows the heartache of the loss of loved ones and dear friends to death.
B. A grief at the unbelief of mankind.
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
exp. There is a great battle taking place as Jesus prepares to gloriously exhibit the power of God. Satan is resisting all the way to the tomb.
VII. The Climax of the story.
A. Jesus thanks God the Father before the miracle takes place.
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
exp. Jesus never doubted God when he went to prayer.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
app. If you don't believe that God hears you, there is no need to pray.
B. Jesus commands the dead.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
exp. Others have pointed out that JESUS had to say LAZARUS or every tomb in the cemetery would have been opened.
ill. The national museum has some mummy's on exhibit. Lazarus was wrapped in a similar way. He can't really see where he is going but he obediently walks out of the tomb. Jesus commands him to be losed from his bondage of death.
app. Jesus has power that wakes the dead and brings them to life.
Joh 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
C. The tears are wiped away.
45 ¶ Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
conlusion: That is a wise response to this story. John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Do you have His life this morning? He is the resurrection and the dead. He that believeth in him though he were dead, yet shall he live.
Christian are you living by faith trusting God in the trials of life? Are you proving God's goodness and power?
Jesus could ask you what he asked Martha, "Believest thou this?" Won't you believe?