John 11:38-44 | The Sovereign Raises the Dead | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 11:38–44
Please open your Bibles to John 11. I was listening to a preacher recently who’s also going through John. Actually, he just finished going through John and he goes through it verse-by-verse like we do, and so it took a few weeks to get to the point where Lazarus actually came out of the grave. So, what he said to his people is really how I feel before you. Lazarus has been in the grave long enough. Let’s get him out. We’ve been explaining all that’s been going on before that, but he needs to come out.
So, this morning our text is John 11, verses 38-44. If you don’t have a Bible, you’re welcome to grab one outside. Not all the way outside. Greg’s got some there. He’s standing back there and he’ll have some Bibles that are yours to keep, so if you need one, please feel free to take one. John 11:38-44 reads as follows:
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
And with that final verse (verse 44), we all together ask the question: What else? That’s it? I mean, what did Lazarus experience when he was in the tomb? Where did he go? How did he commune with God in heaven? Was he disappointed when he came out of the tomb? Everybody else is screaming in awe and hugging him, and he’s going, ahhh. I mean, we want more information, don’t we? I mean, wouldn’t it have been kind of God to give us like a John 22 and to say, oh, by the way, here’s what Lazarus experienced in the time that he was dead?
That’s all that this says. That’s all it says. Lazarus doesn’t speak. If there’s anybody in this story that we want to hear from, it’s Lazarus. We want more information; but listen, Jesus doesn’t want to give us more information. The Holy Spirit of God did not inspire more information. John, the gospel writer, who is man just like us, flesh and bones, sinful nature until he met Christ—John, just like us. You’d think, I mean, come on, John, fellow man, fellow sinner, give us some more. John says, nope, here’s what you need to know. This is what you need to know.
So, the silence is deafening. We want to know more about what Lazarus experienced. John, through his pen and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is saying, what you need to know is exactly in the text. And so, I ask the question: Then what does Jesus want us to know based on this miracle? What does Jesus want us to know, because he raised a man from death to life? What is he trying to teach us?
So, in this text there are two things Jesus is trying to teach us. Two immediate reasons Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. So, we hear about Lazarus and we all of a sudden have questions. We want to know more, but do not miss the two things Jesus is trying to teach those standing around. Two immediate reasons Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
1. Believers: Keep Believing and See His Glory
The first is this—and both of these things have an audience to them. Jesus first addresses a believer in Christ. Secondly, he shows that this miracle is done for the sake of unbelievers that are around him. So, we’ll take it in those two parts. The first thing to say is to believers. Believers, here’s what Jesus wants you to know. Believers: Keep believing and see his glory. Keep believing and see his glory.
Verse 38: “Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.” Now, I told you last week, when you read “deeply moved” in the English Standard Version, that just doesn’t cut it. In the original language, this is “and Jesus, indignant, angry, mad.” And if you’re asking, because you might have missed last week, why is he mad, you can go back and listen to the message from last week. He’s mad at death. He’s mad at death. He hates death. And this is angry, upset, sorrowful also—Jesus.
He’s again indignant and he comes to this tomb. It was a cave. John describes for us what this tomb was like. It was a cave and a stone lay against it, a heavy stone so that no one could get in and smells couldn’t get it. It took a number of people to move this stone. It was a cave and a stone lay against it.
Verse 39: “Jesus said,”—so he said to the crowd, he’s been led to the tomb, remember tears in his eyes, anger in his voice, he says to the crowd—“Take away the stone.” And right then the crowd might have looked around at one another saying, that’s not something that we normally do, Jesus, take away the stone. “Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’” If you have a King James Version, it says “Lord, he stinketh.” Evidently, the translators of the King James knew that she spoke with an English accent. “Lord, he stinketh.”
But it’s kind of humorous because we know the rest of the story. We know what he’s going to do. We know that Lazarus is going to come out of the tomb. She doesn’t know that yet. And all she thinks is, that’s the worst decision you can make. Lord, it’s going to smell. Well, I want to highlight to you, this is Martha. Martha’s saying this to him.
What do we know about Martha so far? Well, go back to verse 27. We learned about what Jesus was talking to Martha about when he came to meet with her. Remember she went outside of Bethany. She got to him as he was coming to her. She got up, went to meet him and said, Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. And then Jesus walks her through the fact that he, Jesus, is the resurrection and the life.
Martha, do you—listen, Martha, you’re hysterical right now, you’re frantic. Look at me. I’m the resurrection and the life. Trust me. Believe in me. He’s not dead forever. I know that he’ll rise again in the final day. Martha, believe in me. And then Martha sees Christ, hears what he’s saying and gives that great confession in verse 27 in response to him asking her, do you believe this? She said, Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who is coming into the world. There’s a lot of theology in those couple of sentences. She’s saying, yes, you’re the Messiah, you’re the chosen one, you’re the one that we’ve been waiting for. I believe in you. A strong statement for Martha, right?
And this is at the time of her brother’s death and she makes this bold statement saying, I believe in Christ. And a few minutes later she starts to question him. Does that sound like any believers you know? Maybe in your home or in your body? We believe in Christ, and then he says something, and we go, maybe there’s a way around that one. Martha’s just like us. She’s just like us. She’s a believer, yes, but sometimes she’s a little slow to trust in what her savior says.
He’s been dead four days. Rigor mortis would have set in. Decomposition would have already been starting to take place. There would be a strong stench. This is what happens after four days. Verse 40: “Jesus said to her [he gives her this gentle rebuke], ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’”
Now, what’s interesting is, earlier on when Jesus is talking to Martha (verses 27 and the verses before that), he didn’t tell her that if she believed that she would see the glory of God. He told a servant that who she sent to Jesus. So, probably Jesus said this to the servant and to those around at the time when he was off, and the servant would have gone back and part of his message back to Martha would have been, he says that if we believe him, we’ll see the glory of God.
So, Jesus knows that she has heard this in some way. “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” What he’s saying to her is, Martha, you believe in me? Keep believing in me and you’ll see the greatness, all the attributes of God, but now you’re wavering in your faith. You’re going to miss how great I am, how great God is. Keep believing; see the glory of God.
The glory of God—complex subject. The glory of God is the sum of who God is, all the attributes of who God is. In the Bible it’s represented as bright light. Moses says, show me your glory; and the Lord says, Moses, you can’t handle that, so I’ll go by you. I’ll hide you in a rock. I’ll go by you, and you’ll see the back parts of me, and it’ll be a blinding light. So, I’ll give you a glimpse and that will blind you.
Jesus is saying, Martha, if you trust me, if you believe in me, you’re going to see me as great. And for us, if we want to see God as great, I mean, I don’t know if you pray that prayer often; but Lord, show me how great you are. I want to know you more. I want to be closer to you. I want to see you as majestic and in awe. The answer back from heaven is, trust me. Well, I know, I do. I’m a believer. I trust you. I trust you, God. Yeah, I’m a believer in Jesus. No, no, every single day, moment-by-moment, in every command I give, every promise I give, trust me.
It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:6—that great statement from Paul who talks about how conversion happens. We just sang of it: “And Can It Be.” Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night.” I was just walking in darkness, but then what’s the turn in the verse? “Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray.” So the light came from heaven. “Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth and followed Thee.”
We just sung that God showed light into our hearts and we saw Christ and we wanted to follow. If you’re a Christian, that’s your testimony. 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, . . .’” God who said way back then at creation, let there be light. For that same God who said, “‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.’”
So, now for the first time as a Christian, we’ve heard of Jesus all our lives, and okay, it didn’t really mean a lot; but when we were converted, we heard Jesus and we thought, oh, my goodness, I see how wonderful he is. I see the glory of God. We got a taste of that. And Jesus is saying to Martha, trust me; you’re going to see the glory of God.
Now, picture yourself being Martha. She’s sad, she’s upset, she wishes Jesus would have stopped her brother’s death. Now Jesus is angry, he’s upset, he’s got tears in his eyes. He said to roll the stone away. She doesn’t think it’s a good idea. There’s a lot going on here. Maybe Mary’s next to her, her sister. Maybe the rest of her family. There’s a lot going on.
When Lazarus comes out of the tomb, think of the celebration that’s going to happen. I mean, was there ever a time in life when the emotions of a group swung so rapidly in such a short amount of time? Grieving, wailing, tears, anger. Lazarus comes out. Party! Oh, my goodness! Hugging him. Was there ever a time in human history? I don’t know. But this is what’s happening. This is the situation she’s in. And we want to know what did Lazarus say? What’d they do? Where’d they go afterwards? What did Martha—did Martha hug him, fall? Did she look at Christ and just have her mouth open? What happened here?
Commentator Morris says this: “What was going to happen was a spectacular miracle. It would be a display of power of Jesus. It would be an inestimable gift to the sisters,” and so on. And so this would have been a huge display of power. The sisters would have been given this great gift. Our brother’s back. You gave him to us. Morris goes on: “But Jesus speaks of none of these aspects.” Jesus doesn’t talk about this. “For him the glory of God was the most important thing.”
So, we want to know, what was the reception like at home? What did they eat? Did Lazarus say, man, I need some Chinese food? Or what happened? What did he say? He didn’t say, hey, listen, I gotta tell you what happened. The reporters had their microphones in his face. I mean, there’s a lot going on. And all Jesus is concerned about that the people around at that time and us today see: He is glorious. God is all-glorious. So, in all our questions and details, Jesus wants us to know God is amazing. Trust that.
So, I ask: Canyon Bible Church, how can we miss seeing the glory of God? Jesus told Martha, you’re not right now in a place to see how great God is because you’re not trusting. So, I ask for my own heart and for all our hearts: How can we miss seeing the glory of God? Here’s how you can miss seeing the glory of God: (1) Assume that you always trust God. I’m a believer. You’re going through something and someone says, you need to trust the Lord more. And what do we do with that type of advice? Oh, that’s cute. Yeah, I know, trust the Lord. No, no, no, no. Hold on. Because that’s what Jesus is saying to Martha. Martha, you need to trust me, believe me, and you’re going to see some great things, because she’s slow to trust. She’s slow with her faith. So, assume you always trust God, if you want to miss seeing God’s glory.
Secondly, question his word. When he says, roll the stone away, go, I don’t know; I don’t really think you want to do that, Lord. Question his word. So, if you want to miss seeing God’s glory, assume you always trust God; question his word. Make excuses, ignore it, tell him why it’s not wise for you to obey his command right now. Lord, if you were in my shoes, you actually wouldn’t do it that way. Or when someone reminds you of, hey, here’s what I think you need to do in this situation. I can’t do that. We’re tempted toward that.
And right now I want to highlight a couple ways in the Christian life that we can be tempted toward that type of thing. The Lord says something, we doubt, and we miss out. I want you to turn to 2 Corinthians 6. Just taking a couple examples from the Christian life. Just a couple that came to my mind as I was reading through different parts of the Bible. And you might be asking how do these specific situations fit into this. Here’s how they fit. A believer doesn’t trust something that Christ has said, so they miss out on enjoying who he is. That’s what I’m trying to show here in a couple places in the Bible.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 is that passage of Scripture where it says don’t be unequally yoked. So, assume there’s a person dating an unbeliever. I want to show how you are like Martha in that moment. Not trusting the Lord, missing out on the glory of God, seeing the greatness of God. So, a person, Christian, dating an unbeliever. And the fear is, if I end the relationship, then maybe I won’t get married, and I really want to get married. Or, if I end the relationship, it’ll be sad and hard. And I grant that. Yes, that’s not an easy situation to be in.
But I want to show you how that can be a Martha mindset and let the Lord correct our thoughts. 2 Corinthians 6:14. Imagine you’re the person dating an unbeliever, and I know some of you are like I’ve been married 50 years. Okay, I know, I know, just imagine for a moment, bring your heart into that. You’re reading 2 Corinthians 6:14 in your quiet time and rather than just read a text and cross it off, thinking I’m getting through my Bible in a year. Actually let the text read your heart. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:
Do not be unequally yoked [this is the Holy Spirit talking to your heart] with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; [notice this] then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
So I ask, in the situation where someone’s dating an unbeliever and they don’t want to trust in the Lord because it would hurt too much, what are they missing out on? The promises of verse 18, knowing God as Father. Knowing God as almighty and powerful, because when a person disregards God’s command because they’re worried they might lose something or somebody, what they’re saying in that moment is, I don’t believe God is as good as he says he is. I’m going to do it my way, because what if it doesn’t work out?
And God is saying, even this morning, God is saying, take up your cross, follow me daily, be willing to die to yourself, obey my command, and then you’re going to know something. You’re going to know the glory of God being your father. You question whether God can provide if this relationship ends? He says, “then I will be a father to you.” What do fathers do? Provide.
You question, if I break up this relationship, then maybe he won’t be able to give me a godly man or woman. You’re also, when you go down that line of thinking, missing out on the fact that I will not only just be a father to you, but it says, I’ll be a father to you, you’ll be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. Well, what if he’s not able? He says, you simply obey and see me as all-powerful.
Another example from the Christian life. Turn to Philippians 4. And the reason I’m going to different kinds of case studies is because we can read, Jesus says to Martha: Martha, didn’t I say if you believe, you’d see the glory of God? And we go, yeah, Martha should have gotten it. Martha should have known that Lazarus was going to be sent out of the tomb, walking on out. If we were there, would we have thought that? So, we’re very good at seeing the sins of other people. Martha needed to have more faith; I’ve got perfect faith.
No, I want to go to some examples to show us how we can be like Martha. Philippians 4, verse 2. There’s a conflict in the church. Two ladies are at odds: Euodia and Syntyche. I had a seminary professor who called her “Sin Touchy.” Euodia and Syntyche have this conflict. They’re in the church. And he writes this:
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Now, I was talking with some friends the other day about coffee mug Christianity. You can go into any Christian bookstore, by law they have to have a coffee mug that says “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” But be careful of just simply coffee mug Christianity. The context of this is ladies who are fighting one another, even anybody in the church fighting one another. I’m telling you, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Because what happens when you’re at odds with another believer? You’re not really rejoicing. You’re critical, you’re angry, you’re pointing out their flaws. Rejoicing isn’t the first emotion that comes up.
So, Paul writes this letter and he says to these two ladies, I say agree in the Lord. These are the ladies who have helped us in gospel ministry. There’s a lot to commend in these ladies, both of them. Rejoice in the Lord; again I’ll say, rejoice.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; [ladies, be reasonable; the Lord’s here] do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
So Euodia and Syntyche are really anxious. Euodia’s been spreading rumors about Syntyche; and he’s saying don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding [here’s the promise they’re missing out on, by the way], will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally …
Last thing he wants to say; and again, we’re good at divorcing these words from their context. We normally think of Philippians 4:8-9 separately, but think of them in the context of conflict resolution in the body.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Do you know who he’s talking to? The people in conflict. And he said, when you’re in conflict, even in the church, here’s what to do: me versus them. And you are very good at detailing the seven ways that they sinned against you. She said this here, he said that then, they rolled their eyes then, they kind of huffed when I walked by them. I’ve got all the ways listed, and I’ve thought about them every night for the last seven weeks.
That’s what we do in conflict, whether it’s marriage or anything. And he’s begging—you can hear the begging tone in verse 8. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true,” whatever is true. Euodia, whatever is true in Syntyche. How about, she’s a child of God. Think about that for a little while. Syntyche is a child of God. “Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely.” Euodia, I want to ask you a question: Is there anything in Syntyche’s life that is lovely. Well, I don’t think so. No, I’ve just given you one.
Verse 3: “help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel.” From God’s perspective, these are ladies who have labored for the gospel. From the human perspective: She sinned against me. He’s saying view her like God views her, not like you want to view her in your sinful flesh.
How does this relate to Martha? Are you in a situation where there’s conflict. Have you been stacking up all the reasons someone has wronged you. Jesus is saying, think of them like God thinks of them; and if you do, you will see how great God is. But if you don’t, you’re missing out on how great God is. And it’s not a fun way to live life.
Notice verse 7, if you think of them this way, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Do you want peace with God? Do you want to experience how much peace God can bring to a messy situation? Then obey what he says in conflict resolution. And as you demonstrate these—so imagine Syntyche just continuing to frown at Euodia, I mean, across the sanctuary. I’m not sitting by you. I’ll never talk to you again. I’m leaving small group because you’re in it. All of that.
And imagine Euodia saying, but I know you’re precious in God’s sight. I know you’re a child of the King. I know you’ve helped Paul and others in gospel ministry. You are a woman to be emulated in many ways. What does that do to the relationship? It shows that there’s a God of peace at work. And you can enjoy the God of peace much more when you are like him and trust his word and follow his way.
Another brief example, if you’re struggling with money. And the Lord has said look at the lilies of the field, look at the birds of the air. How much more do I care for you? But you’re struggling with money, and so when you get an extra $1,000 in unexpected income, maybe I don’t need to report it to the IRS. They’ll never know. You’re not believing. You’re not trusting the Lord. And when you don’t trust the Lord, you’re going to miss out on something. You’re going to miss out that God is your provider. Why? Because you provided for yourself in a disobedient way.
So, trust is not easy. Euodia and Syntyche need to give a lot up here. The man or woman who doesn’t report their income needs to give a lot up. Well, I’m going to have to pay taxes on it. Yes, you are going to have to pay taxes on it, but trust that your God is a provider. See, when we disobey, we miss out on seeing the greatness of God and what he can do because we’re doing it in our own way. I don’t think he’s that good. I’m going to do it my own way. But when we say, no, no, I’m obeying. I don’t even know how this will turn out. Do that; watch the Lord be ever glorious in your eyes.
The old hymn—“Trust and Obey.” There’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey. It’s easy to sing that song, harder to do. So, I would just ask you, Canyon Bible Church, I say this a lot, don’t just read the word of God; let the word of God read you. Ask, when you read Philippians 4 in your daily Bible reading, don’t just go, oh, interesting, interesting, interesting. Okay, I know more about Philippians 4. No, are you Euodia, are you Syntyche? Are you the one failing to trust in God’s promises of providing for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field?
Where are we tempted to not trust the Lord? When you read John 11 about Martha—Lord, is there any way that you say something and I don’t believe you and I’m missing out on how great you are? Bring your heart there. Bring your heart there anytime you read the Scriptures. Why? So that you can feel bad about yourself? No, so that you can then see the glory of God and trust him.
I hope this makes sense. Believers: Keep believing and see the glory of God. Believe every day. And when you don’t believe, tell him. I’ve failed to believe, Lord, help my unbelief. Believers: Keep believing and see his glory.
2. Unbelievers: Begin Believing and See His Source
The second message that Jesus gives us is specifically to non-Christians, unbelievers. Unbelievers, here’s the message to you this morning. Begin believing and see his source. What I mean by that is see where he comes from. Begin believing in Jesus and see that he comes from heaven and is the only one that’s been sent from heaven to offer you eternal life. Jesus wants you to understand this about the raising of Lazarus.
Verse 41: “So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.’” They take away the stone. They obey Jesus’ command even when Martha’s protesting. They take away the stone. The stench would have come out and Jesus—notice this—Lazarus hasn’t walked out. They take away the stone. Where would have all of the eyes been? On the stone. On the cave. Everyone looking at the cave.
Not Jesus. He’s looking up to heaven. Why? He doesn’t need to see. He doesn’t say, Abracadabra, come out Lazarus. I hope it works. I hope it works. Jesus doesn’t need to look at the cave. Does not need to look at the cave. He created the cave. He created Lazarus. He’s known him from before the foundation of the world. He knows exactly what’s going to happen. Everyone’s looking at the cave. Jesus is looking up to his Father.
“So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.’” Now, evidently Jesus has been praying for this moment before that even. I thank you that you’ve in the past heard me. “I knew that you always hear me, but I said this [I said take away the stone] on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me” (verse 42).
So, what does Jesus want the crowd, largely unbelieving crowd—what does Jesus want the unbelieving crowd to know? God sent Jesus to raise the dead. Jesus is praying that to God. Lord, I’m praying it this way because I want them to know that you and I are together. You sent me to do this, and I want them to know you sent me. We want to know what Lazarus experienced. Jesus wants us to know, God sent me to raise the dead. That’s what Jesus wants.
Verse 43: “When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’” In the Greek, two words: Lazarus, here. Lazarus, here. Why a loud voice? Because Lazarus was dead? No. Jesus could have whispered it and Lazarus would have come out. Remember, Jesus healed people from miles away before. He didn’t need to wake him up. Lazarus, come out. Oh, he didn’t hear you. [Louder] Okay, Lazarus … It’s not for that reason.
Isaiah talks about false prophets who are enabled by Satan to do certain things, certain supernatural things. Isaiah talks about the fact that they murmur and mumble things. So, mrrrr, abracadabra, and something happens. Jesus is trying to show loudly that when he speaks, graves listen. When he speaks, dead men rise. That’s what Jesus is doing. He’s shouting with a loud voice so everyone around can hear and they can relate Jesus’ words to life. The loud voice that said: Lazarus, here.
Verse 44: “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’” Here’s what’s staggering about that. Just four days earlier, well, a couple days earlier, Jesus was miles away. Martha sent a messenger, miles away, many miles away, probably a two days’ journey away, to tell Jesus the one you love is sick; you need to get here.
Now, when you are in the times where you know a loved one is sick and you know that it’s going to lead to death, typically those people aren’t walking around a couple days. They’re in bed. They’re weak. They can’t eat. That’s what typically happens. When Martha sends for Jesus, Lazarus would have been in bed, not walking, maybe not eating and drinking. That’s the state he would have been in.
So, when Jesus says, Lazarus, come out, and Lazarus on his own power, not helped with anybody, on his own power, starts to come out, what does that say about resurrection? It’s full. Now, think of this: Lazarus’ body would have been decomposing. It would have been much worse off four days later than it was even four days before that. Even four days before that, ten minutes before he died, he would have been much stronger than four days in the tomb.
So, Jesus did, in a matter of moments, what it has taken the natural causes four days to do. The body would have been decomposing. Jesus—I don’t know the verb; is it recomposing? He would have been composing? He would have been creating all that was needed for the muscles to work, the nerves to work so Lazarus could shuffle on out. In a moment. That’s how Jesus does miracles. They’re full. They’re final.
Jesus raises him from the dead. He’s able to shuffle on out, but he needs help because he’s wrapped up. He’s wrapped up with linen. He doesn’t need help because he’s sore. He doesn’t need help because he can’t really walk that well. Jesus healed the man. He needs help because he’s in linen, wrapped up.
“The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them [those around], ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’” Now, even in this we see the beauty of Jesus Christ. You’re the crowd; imagine Jesus says, Lazarus, here, and all of a sudden a man wrapped in linen starts to come out. I can tell by the silence that you understand what it would have been like to be them. They would have been doing just what you’re doing. That’s what they would have been doing.
Who’s not amazed by this? Jesus. What’s Jesus thinking about? What Lazarus needs. Guys, guys, go unbind him. He needs help walking. They’re thinking, oh, my goodness. He says, guys, go give him an arm. Go, take the stuff off. He needs help.
Remember when Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter? Luke 8, Mark 5. Healed Jairus’ daughter. She’s been dead. He heals Jairus’ daughter and everyone’s mouth opened and Jesus says, give her something to eat. The ever practical Jesus who knows every single one of our needs. He knows when we’re hungry. He knows when we need just twenty-seven more dollars to meet the budget. He knows when we need this. He knows every little thing we need. And in the midst of a miracle where everybody’s mouth is open, he says, guys, help him out there. Give her something to eat. There’s no one that cares for you like Jesus Christ, and this is who Jesus is.
We need to be careful not to have so many question marks that are unanswered in this section that we miss out on what heaven is shouting to us this morning. Believer, keep believing every single day. When obedience is hard, obey him and see the greatness of God. Unbeliever, person who’s not a follower of Christ, the message of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead for you is—listen: God sent Jesus to overcome death. No one else. No other religious teacher, no other miracle worker. He sent Jesus and he wants you to know Jesus is the only one that can raise a man from the dead, meaning he’s the only one that can actually offer eternal life.
Eternal life—do you mean like thousands of years I’ll still be alive? Yes. He can offer you that. What’s interesting to note about this story: The enemies of Jesus didn’t dispute the resurrection. They didn’t say to the crowd—this was a very public miracle—you’re just seeing things. They knew what happened. Lazarus was dead; now he’s alive. They just tried to keep people from following Christ. They didn’t dispute this miracle. It’s a fact.
Chapter 12 of John, verses 10 and 11: “So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.” And don’t we have the question for the chief priests: Guys, why are you so worked up and trying to kill Lazarus again? A: Jesus can raise him again. Oh, you got him. Out of the tomb again. So, why are you spending your time doing that? But B: Why are you so concerned about stopping people from following Jesus? Why don’t you just see that Jesus raised a man from the dead? Why don’t you follow him? But that shows the depravity of man, the depth of sin.
What we also learn about chapter 12, verses 10 and 11, is that mankind doesn’t need more signs. Mankind doesn’t need more signs. Well, if God would do this, then maybe I’d believe in him. Okay, well, you’ve given me this mountain of information, like the creation of the whole world, but I need a little bit more over here. Man doesn’t need more signs.
I want you to turn in closing to Luke 16. In Luke 16 we meet a man who understood death and judgment too late. He had ignored it on earth. He had ignored Christ on earth. He had ignored God’s word on earth, and now it’s too late. It’s the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; and no, this is not the same Lazarus. Same name; it wasn’t the most uncommon name then. Parable of the rich man and Lazarus. I want you to see something here at the end. Luke 16:19-31:
There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.”
That man just wanted a drop of water. It shows the agony of hell. And Abraham says to him, it’s not possible. So, what’s the next request that this man has? Okay, okay, I can’t get any comfort. Verse 27:
And he said, “Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
So, what’s he asking for? This man is asking for his loved ones to have more information. Abraham, just give them more information. Tell them what I’m going through.
But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.”
In our day and age, Abraham’s response is, they have their Bibles. They have their Bibles. Let them hear them.
And he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”
No, father Abraham, their Bibles just sit on their shelf. Father Abraham, they read their Bibles, but it’s more of a ceremonial thing. They don’t really read and understand and take to heart what you’re saying. They just kind of do it to go through the Christian motions. That’s not enough. They need more information. Verse 31:
He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”
Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus raised a man from the dead, and still people will not believe, and they say, I need more information. Heaven says, no, you have what you need.
So, if you’re not a follower of Christ today I’ve got good news for you. Hear heaven say, you don’t need any more information. Believe what’s been said today. Believe what’s been written. Believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ himself, because if you say, well, that’s great, Jesus healed Lazarus. Big deal. What happened to Jesus? He dies. And you would be right. Simply died.
This whole thing in here on Sunday morning, everything we live for would be a complete joke, but he rose from the dead. Buddha didn’t raise from the dead. Mohammed is still dead. Any hope you put in any other thing, any other person, doesn’t result in life. The only thing that results in life is to go to the one who is the resurrection and the life and to say, my whole eternity, starting today, is banked on you. I trust you for everything. I repent of going my own way. I repent of trusting other people. Maybe a relationship would fix my life. Maybe a job. I repent of finding my satisfaction in anything. I trust in you because you raised a man from the dead and because you were raised from the dead yourself. I trust you.
And Lord, I don’t know if I can live the Christian life. I think I might look like Martha a lot, and that’s okay. Don’t come to Jesus saying, I’m going to clean myself up so that I can get in your good graces. Come to Jesus and say, I’m unworthy; I’ve done it wrong; I need you to forgive me. And when I act like Martha, would you please correct me and give me grace. And the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Listen, if you’re not a follower of Christ, we are not here because we perfected ourselves and then God got happy with us. Ask any Christian in here. We’re a mess. We were more of a mess, but he changed our hearts and he forgave us, and we still look like Martha. We look like Martha every day, but we have grace from our Lord and we’ve banked our entire life on that grace. Join us. Join us. Jesus is glorious. Please, if you never hear anything else, please hear a Christian say that Jesus is all-satisfying and can be trusted. He’s the only one that heaven sent to save.
You know, there are a lot of—I’ve been saying it—a lot of unanswered questions in John 11. We want to know more. Our family even today, our extended family, is it looks like about to lose one that we love. Very sad. But if a loved one came back, if a loved one came back for just a few months, a couple weeks, we’d have all sorts of questions for them.
But I can imagine a loved one coming back and us barraging them with dozens and dozens of questions. Did you see Elijah up there? What did Jesus say to you? We’d have all sorts of questions, and I can imagine them just putting up their hand and saying, based on John 11, shhhhh, trust Jesus. He is the resurrection and the life. And we might say, I know, I’m a believer, I know, I know, but …. No, no, no, no. Every day trust Jesus.
Or to an unbeliever: What was that like? What did you experience? Did you experience …? Trust Jesus with everything and see him as glorious. Let’s pray.
Father, help us as believers to take heed to every command you give us and to not obey you because it’s a drudge or hard or just because you say to, but to obey you, believing that if we do, even if it doesn’t make sense to anybody else around us, if we believe you, we will know you as even greater than we did before. You’ll become increasingly glorious to us.
Father, I’d ask that you would help us as Canyon Bible Church to never point someone away from the word of God. When you’re speaking to us, when there’s a matter of obedience, let us come alongside as a brother and sister and just say, let’s obey this. Trust him rather than make excuses or teach others to not believe him, make excuses for why we don’t have to.
Father, let this be a group that trusts your word in big ways and little ways, and as a result just overwhelmed with joy at who you are and how great you are.
Father, as we remember your Son’s death, in these elements of the Lord’s table, please continue to fascinate Canyon Bible Church of Prescott with him. In our taking of these elements, let us truly understand from the heart and celebrate from the heart what he’s done. And as we sing our final song, we sing it loud to the one that we love. We pray this in his name. Amen.
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January 1, 2017John 11:28-37 | The Sovereign's Emotions | Andrew Gutierrez
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November 27, 2016John 11:-10 | Sovereign Over Death | Andrew Gutierrez