It’s time to call on resurrection power in this holy hour!
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
-John 11:1-4, NIV
There is a great back story mentioned at the beginning of this passage to set the scene. These people were not acquaintances, for I truly believe they were some of Jesus’ closest friends. When this message got back to them, I would assume they believed Jesus was coming soon, but then He didn’t.
Did they trust Jesus’ word? Could they hold on to it even when He didn’t answer immediately?
Let’s continue along the story….
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 🔑 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
-John 11:5-16, NIV
Sounds a little presumptuous to me. Just earlier, they were saying not to go to Judea because they may be stoned. And now they are saying they will go even to their death. There is an interesting dialogue between Jesus and the disciples. It seems they still had much to learn about Him and His way of communicating and waiting on the Lord for the right timing for a miracle.
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him.
When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place 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.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
-John 11:17-33, NIV
This is an amazing development. Martha went and found Jesus, for she had some things to say. She is the assertive one. Mary waited to be called. Both have their place in the story. Both said similar things to Jesus, but Mary is the one who fell at His feet in complete surrender, not once but twice. Jesus didn’t weep until He saw Mary and the others weeping. “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”
“Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take 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 four days.”
-John 11:34-39, NIV
One minute they have compassion on seeing Him weep, and in the next, they are questioning why He didn’t come sooner. Haven’t we all dealt with this? How we grieve seems to effect people differently. Everyone has an opinion. Too many tears. Not enough. You get the picture. Next, Martha is asking a logical question, but she still doesn’t understand that she was not dealing with a logical Rabbi. She was dealing with an eternal one.
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
-John 11:40-44, NIV
This last line is sooo powerful. This statement is speaking to me right now as I’m writing this. When walking through grief, one of the hardest things is to let go. To let go of what was. To let go of what never will go. To let go of a marriage. To let go of being a family of four. To let go of growing old. To let go of raising kids together. To let go of walking our daughter down the aisle. To let go of developing our son’s basketball skills. To let go of vacations together. This list could go on and on. These grave clothes have a shelf life, but for so many they don’t want to take them off. It’s all they know. The unknown is scarier.
Can you see this story is all about life! Lazarus got a new start with a new finish because the Rabbi said this was for the glory of God. Nothing made sense yet. The impact was more powerful because of His timing. Four days!
This sermon was preached the weekend before Ben’s ascent in 2017. The following song was song by our worship team that weekend as well.
The line that says, “you came and I knew that you would come,” always encouraged me that Jesus would always come to save the day. Then, as I continued singing it over the years, it started to take on a different meaning. Instead of the focus being that Jesus came, I started to see it as if He was singing it over me. Hey Micah, you came. I knew that you would come. Jesus knew that in my darkest hour, I would run to the Father 😭. That brought so much confidence to my heart, and I hope you can take hold of that here today as well. When you run to Him, you always walk away with a grin. ☺️
Here is the song below. May it encourage you as it has continued to do for me. Amen.
Lazarus by Bethel Music
Until next time,
Keep gliding 🪁
& Smiling 😁