Sunday August 2nd
I don’t want to spoil the ending for you guys, but the final verse of the Gospel of John, Chapter 21, verse 25 says,“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”So there are a lot of things that Jesus did that aren’t recorded in the Bible, but if you do your research you can find some of them. For instance, I don’t know if you’re aware of the story about that time when Jesus and Lazarus were playing poker. Lazarus placed a bet and Jesus said...I'll see you and I'll raise you.
Of course John chapter 11 is where we find the story of the raising of Lazarus, and also the proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection power. The story begins with Jesus getting the news from Martha and Mary that their brother was sick, with an obvious expectation that Jesus would immediately come to heal him.
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
When Jesus finds out about Lazarus’ illness, He immediately proclaims that this story will not end with death. But notice how Jesus doesn’t say that Lazarus wouldn’t die, only that this would not “end with death”.
That’s important, because at this point Jesus is aware of three things:
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.
Think about the seeming contradiction in that verse:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
There are going to be times in our lives when God is doing things that make no sense to us. If fact, what God is doing might seem to be the opposite of what we think He should be doing. But God knows what He is doing!
And the disciples can’t figure out what Jesus is doing either:
7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”
13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”
What a bunch of knuckleheads!
They don’t want to go into Judea because they know that there are people in Judea who want to kill Jesus. They say “Let Lazarus sleep if he’s feeling sick.” Then when Jesus makes it clear that He’s talking about death, not sleep, Thomas throws up his hands and says, “Okay, fine. Let’s all go die together in Judea!”
So they all head out towards Bethany, where Jesus runs into Martha on the way. She is distraught with grief:
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
I tend to think that Martha spoke those words with a bit of an accusation in her voice. After all, “what took so long?”
But in the midst of her confusion and questions, she still has hope. She says this to Jesus:
22 “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Martha believes in the eventual resurrection of believers on Judgment Day, but she doesn’t have a full understanding of who Jesus really is, and the power that He holds over life and death. She is about to find out.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
Verse 25 is the core truth of our Christian faith. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. This parallels the words that Jesus will speak in John 14:6
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
Martha says that she does believe what Jesus is saying.
Then she backs that up by acknowledging that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the only one who can raise the dead.
Then Martha runs to share this hope with her sister Mary:
28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.
30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Notice how Mary’s level of misunderstanding reflects where Martha’s was. “I know that you COULD’VE done something to prevent this IF ONLY you had come in time.”
Mary is crying, the others are crying, and soon Jesus is crying too:
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled,
34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”
John 11:35 happens to be the shortest verse in the Bible.
But it is also a very significant verse in light of how it reflects Jesus’ true humanity. He wept. He cried. Like we do when we lose someone we love.
Hebrews 4:15 says:
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
In other words, Jesus has experienced every aspect of what it means to be human except for one thing, and that’s sin. Because of that, He can fully understand and sympathize with whatever we’re going through.
Some people have wondered, “if Jesus knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, then why was He crying about the situation?” But we see in Romans 12:15 that we are called to:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
So Jesus was simply sharing in the very sorrow that He was about to erase.
The people in the crowd had their own opinions as well, similar to what Martha and Mary had expressed:
37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”
Could Jesus have kept Lazarus from dying? Absolutely! But there is a bigger plan at work here.
38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
I think that’s really ironic, and kind of typical of how we sometimes relate to God. We tell God what we need. He starts to address the need in a way that only He can. And we tell Him why that won’t work!
I mean seriously, don’t you think that a God who can raise a dead man to life can also make the smell of death disappear?
So when we’re going to trust God for our answers, let’s be willing to believe He can work out every detail!
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
I heard a cute story about a children's Sunday school class that was presenting their end of the year program for the congregation. The children were telling stories about the life of Jesus.
When it came to the part about Jesus' miracles, one little boy said, "Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!" The teacher urged him to tell the audience more.
He said, "Well, Jesus told them to open the tomb, and then He said, 'Lazarus, come out!' And it's a good thing he didn't just say 'Come out!' because there would have been a stampede of dead guys."
Do you know what’s great about that? At the resurrection there’s going to be a whole stampede of dead guys and ladies coming out of tombs, and we might be part of that stampede!
Now you might think that this powerful miracle would change the minds of everyone in Israel. Not exactly.
45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.
47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48 If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
Many of the people who witnessed this miracle became followers of Jesus, but the hard-hearted Pharisees still won’t believe. In fact, they are even more determined to kill Jesus.
And the Holy Spirit speaks through Caiaphas, who is NOT a believer, and prophesies that Jesus would be the “one man” who would die for the “whole nation”, in fact, for the whole world. And they will be a part of that.
So the final verses of this chapter are sort of a lull, a waiting period before the plot to crucify Jesus starts to unfold:
54 Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it, so that they might seize Him.
I know it seems incredible that these leaders would want to kill a man who has just raised the dead. But in John chapter 16 Jesus tells the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus. By the way this isn’t the same Lazarus!19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
How true of a statement was that? The Pharisees had Moses and the Prophets to point out that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They wouldn’t believe them.
AND they had a man, Lazarus, raised from the dead, and they STILL wouldn’t believe! In fact, we’ll see in chapter 12 that they wanted to KILL Lazarus too!
What are we to make of this?
Well, for one, we shouldn’t be surprised that people reject the truth no matter how clear it is.
We saw back in John 7:7 where Jesus said that:
“The world… hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.”
And in John 3:19
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”
So don’t get discouraged when people don’t seem receptive to the gospel. Just keeping sharing it with your words, your lifestyle, and your love. Because those are the things that God uses to break through hardened hearts!