HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, March 13, 2022
Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lTRdM5LP0Q
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Jesus’ Power Over Death”
Texts – John 11:1-45, 53, 12:9-11
Today, we’re going to be examining the miracle that Jesus performed, that above all others, set him squarely in the crosshairs of the religious leaders…that of raising Lazarus from the dead.
John 11:1-45,53,12:9-11 – “A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.
Jesus waited… on purpose! Why allow this pain for his friends? He knew God’s plan…here was another opportunity to prove Jesus was God-man and that his power was beyond anything his disciples yet realized. Yes, his friends would experience pain, but it was needed to provide a greater hope and deepening of faith.
7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”
9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”
Going to Bethany would be dangerous. What did the disciples fear? The last time Jesus had been in Jerusalem, he had escaped being stoned to death for blasphemy. The disciples could not yet appreciate the events that were about to take place leading up to Passover or the fact that everything was happening according to God’s plan…Jesus would not be a victim of the hatred of men, but rather a willing sacrifice. His time to die wouldn’t come until it was time…
11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
Jesus’ delay was for his disciples’ benefit, which means that Lazarus’ death was for their benefit, which means the pain of grief and loss currently being experienced by Mary & Martha was for the benefit of others. What do you think about that? How might it cause you to respond knowing that God might choose to work through your life in sometimes very painful ways…for the benefit of others?
This story is really no different from Joseph’ story—enslaved and imprisoned in a foreign land for thirteen years after being sold by his brothers. Then saving his family from a famine that would have wiped them out. His pain for their benefit. Seems unfair. Yet, this too, though he may not have known it for many years, was for his own benefit as well. Yes, he became second in command of the land of Egypt, but if God hadn’t worked in his life as he had, he too would have in all likelihood perished with the rest of his family.
Stories like these remind us that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge our circumstances. Only time will tell what God’s purposes were and are.
16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
Most of us who have a familiarity with the twelve apostles know Thomas as the ‘doubter.’ I think a fairer title would be pragmatist. Even in the face of certain death, what does Thomas suggest? What does this tell us about him? He was one who believed things when he saw them for himself…much like many of us…yet he was also incredibly loyal and, in this case, ready to lay his life down for Jesus. And so they accompany Jesus to Bethany.
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
Martha was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, but it still appears that she placed limits on what he could do. What does he tell her? He has the power over death. But as the story progresses, it is obvious that she has no idea what Jesus has come to do for her family this day.
28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Mary was equally convinced that Jesus could have saved her brother. However, in her belief, how might she be feeling? Resentful? Bitter? Not hope. I suspect most of us can relate. It’s usually only on the ‘other side’ of life’s difficulties, when we experience some measure of relief and see God’s solution, that hope returns. But Jesus wants more for us. True spiritual maturity is given evidence in our lives, when our level of trust in God causes us to hang onto hope in him in the midst of crisis.
Despair is a common condition for our sinful humanity; but it’s true purpose in the life of the believer is to show up our need for continued growth in our relationship with God, certainty of his Sovereignty, of his love and his goodness. Lessons, I confess, that I still wrestle with at times, as I think the majority of us will until we finally come face to face with Jesus in heaven.
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.
What was the cause of Jesus’ anger? This was not how the world was to be. Sin has infected God’s good creation and introduced into our experience evils that were not a part of God’s plan. Jesus was face to face with the enemy of humanity…death…and it made him angry! Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary & Martha, just as he loves us. While the pain he saw in people’s lives caused him to have compassion, the cause of that pain made his blood boil. This was not how life was to be experienced, and he was justifiably angry.
Our anger often leads us to act in ways that are not pleasing to God—lashing out or brooding on the thing that has made us angry. But that’s not what Jesus’ anger lead to…
39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
Jaw drop! I wonder if the majority of the crowd didn’t think they were witnessing some kind of ‘return of the Zombies’ episode. Jesus has to tell them to release Lazarus from the grave clothes. He’s not a ghost; get over there and help him!
If you had been in the crowd that day, how would you respond? It would have been like going to a cemetery and digging up the body! Let’s read their reactions.
45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.
…53 So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death.
…12:9 When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. 10 Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, 11 for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.”
How do each of the characters of the story choose to respond?
Mary & Martha
· Pleading with Jesus to help
· Convinced that he could heal their brother
· Confused that he would just allow Lazarus to die
· Possibly questioning his love for them
· Still believing Jesus was the Messiah, even during grief
· Shock, followed by joy, as Lazarus emerges from the tomb, now fully restored
· Their faith is expanded and cemented as to who Jesus is and what he can do
· Worried for the welfare of his sisters…if he was still cognizant during his illness
· ??? Returned to life on earth…pulled out of paradise!
· Relieved to know that his sisters will be taken care of
· Humble and in wonderment over being chosen to show God’s power through his death and life
· His trust is deepened as he recognizes that God knows best…and just maybe a little impatient to go back
Disciples / Crowds / Mourners
· The disciples were certain they were about to die as they go to Bethany, but beyond that they play the role of the audience along with the crowds / mourners
· How many of the mourners were there simply in hopes that Jesus would come and perform a miracle by healing Lazarus?
· Some were touched by the deep grief Jesus displayed
· Others resented Jesus’ late arrival—they had seen or heard about how he had given new eyes to the man born blind, why had he not worked his magic for this family who were supposedly his good friends?
· When Jesus ordered the stone rolled away, did they simply assume he wanted to see Lazarus’ dead body one last time…like a wake or viewing?
· They were all gobsmacked as Lazarus walks out of the tomb; maybe even fearful that they were seeing a ghost, until Jesus orders them to remove the burial wrappings
· All now have the choice to further believe that Jesus is who he says he is or turn informant for those who refuse to believe
· They are left to wrestle with their own perceived paradox—Jesus is a sinner (heals on the Sabbath), he is the son of a nobody (they were convinced he did not fulfill the Scriptures concerning the Messiah), yet he had performed this miracle of raising a man dead after four days!
· Their way of life was threatened. Their audience was going over to Jesus; the Romans were likely to perceive this as a threat and destroy this new ‘rebellion’ to the established order…punishing the whole nation in the process
· Their conclusion? Jesus must die
· Lazarus, too, as a living walking miracle and proof of Jesus’ power, must die as well
Readers of the story
· Will we relegate the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead to the status of a fairy tale—just some early church hyperbole?
· Or will we too allow it to strengthen our faith when we find ourselves in a place of desperation like Mary & Martha, coming out of an impossible situation like Lazarus or facing a threat to our very lives like the disciples?
· For those of us who believe the truth of the Bible, it should give us incredible hope knowing that nothing is impossible for God to do on our behalf…and just as Lazarus was raised from the dead, no matter what we may experience on this earth, we too will rise to new life with him
References and for further study / inspiration…
“How Did Jesus Do Miracles—His Divine Nature or the Holy Spirit?” https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/jesus-miracles-who-how/
Sunday, March 20, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Moral Support” – In-person and Online – Speaker: Pastor David Dunn
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!