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Grief, Grace and Glory (Barry Wyatt)

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John 11:1–44 ESV
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 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. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” 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.”

Introduction

Friends, it has been an incredibly sad and difficult week for the church family.
Every one of us has a broken heart, and many tears have been shed this week as we try to come to terms with the sudden loss of our beloved pastor.
As can be expected under the circumstances, grief can sometimes be accompanied by confusion, uncertainty and anxiety as we contemplate what has happened, and what lay ahead of us.
It can feel like the ground has been taken out from underneath us, the air taken out of our lungs, and the world seems like a very different place.
The impact that he made on his generation and the one to follow has also been
How are we meant to respond? What path do we take going forward? And how do we understand God’s will and purpose in all of this?
In the account of Lazarus, there are some reflections that I believe are very helpful to us in our sorrow and grieving.
But also, this account of Jesus raising of Lazarus from death to life paints a picture for us that helps us to find solid ground...
...and to focus on what is sure and certain, so that our confidence will be found - not in ourselves, nor in our reasoning - but in the eternal sufficiency and glory of Jesus Christ.
be found in ourselves or in our reasoning, but in the eternal sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

It is Good to Grieve

Beloved, the first reflection I see in this account of Lazarus is that it is both appropriate and good to grieve when we experience the loss of someone we love dearly.
In the case of Mary, Martha and Lazarus - 3 siblings from a village called Bethany - we can see that there was a genuine love which they had for each other, and that the community as well showed much love and affection for the family.
When Lazarus fell ill, it was his sisters who cared for him and his sisters who went in search of the Lord, who they knew they could rely on in their hour of desperation.
We also see genuine love and affection being shown for the family by the whole community, as they came and surrounded the sisters to comfort them in their hour of grief.
Later in the narrative, in verse 31, we see that when Mary left the house to go to Jesus, the community that were at the house with her to console her, followed her out, thinking she was going to the tomb.
They cared very deeply for her and wanted to be there for her, to comfort and console her.
There is something very holy about a community of believers, covenant brothers and sisters as we are, coming together to bring comfort to Barry’s family.
1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
As brothers and sisters, we are all members of the same body. When one part of the body hurts, the whole body feels it. We share in each other’s joy, and we share in each other’s pain.
As brothers and sisters, we all share in each other’s joy and rejoice together, and we also share in each other’s suffering, hardship and pain.
It is then so natural, for the whole body to draw near to the family who have felt the pain of loss and to share that pain with them.
When
What we have seen over the past few days has just been a tremendous picture of this body and our unity in Christ.
The people of this church have drawn together and have surrounded Wendy and the family in a beautiful way, bringing comfort in any way that they could think of.
But the body isn’t just Cambridge Baptist - pastors and Christians from the other churches in the city, and even Christians from other parts of South Africa and the world have overwhelmingly offered messages of support and offered spiritual and physical help in ways that just make me so grateful to be a child of God and to witness the unity and the beauty of the body of Christ.
Sometimes when we want to comfort the family, we want to say something profound that will express our heartfelt sorrow and that will offer some hope or encouragement, but we don’t know what to say.
It is difficult to find words at such times.
But the truth is that having the perfect words is not what the comfort of the saints is all about.
It is often simple things like a long hug, a squeeze of the hand, and the shedding of tears together that are most profoundly meaningful.
Family, we see a powerful
I can’t think of a better example of this than verse 35. It is only two words, and the shortest verse in all the Bible, but it is also one of the most profound verses in all the Bible.
Jesus wept.
He is Lord, the fullness of God in flesh, and yet here we see His humanity being communicated in the most profound way imaginable.
Friends, if Jesus was so deeply moved by the grief felt by the family that he himself was moved to tears, then I believe it is safe to say that it is appropriate and good for us too, to shed tears and to grieve the loss of our beloved pastor, husband, father, son, brother and friend.
Romans 12:15 ESV
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 8:22–23 ESV
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
However, brothers and sisters, I don’t want you to mistake grief for despair.
When Jesus cried with Lazarus’ sisters over Lazarus, He did so knowing full well what powerful miracle he was about to perform.
Jesus’ tears were not tears of despair.
He felt every weight of grief that they did over the brokenness of this world and the effects of sin that have brought death into God’s perfect creation...
But He always knew that he was going to give Lazarus life again.
In verse 11 Jesus told his disciples “our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”
Jesus knew that the outcome of it all would be great rejoicing over Lazarus being raised to life.
And therefore the second truth that I want us to reflect on is that:

2. It is Good to Rejoice

In verses 20 - 27 we see Martha running to Jesus when she sees him coming.
Solomon says in “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”
Solomon says in “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”
Solomon says in “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”
And she says to Him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."
Jesus grieved with Lazarus family, but his tears were not tears of despair.
In fact, one might even want to ask, why did Jesus cry any tears at all?
Surely he was well aware of what miracle he was about to perform?
You see,
4 days had past since Lazarus had died. But still, Martha had hope, and all of her hope rested exclusively on the Lord Jesus.
Jesus said to her “Your brother will rise again”
Mary’s response gives the impression that she didn’t understand fully what the Lord was saying
She humbly responds “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Now in those days the question of resurrection and life after death was hotly debated. The Pharisees believed in life after death, the Sadducees did not.
Mary obviously rightly believed in the resurrection.
But you see Jesus is telling Mary something which she has not yet grasped.
Jesus doesn’t just teach the resurrection… Jesus IS the resurrection.
Jesus holds the keys to life and death, they are his to command.
His power and sovereignty over death is gloriously displayed in verses 43 and 44, when he commanded with a loud voice “LAZARUS, COME OUT”
....and immediately life entered Lazarus dead body and he came out, still wrapped in cloth.
And I want to propose to you, that it is a good thing that the Lord Jesus said Larazus’ name, because such is His power that if He had simply shouted “COME OUT”, I think that all the dead in the world would have jumped to their feet.
Such is the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And if I may just at this moment encourage and comfort you with these words...
Especially those of you who were with Barry in those last moments...
We often think to ourselves… if only I could have done more, I should have done better....
Maybe if I had done this, or maybe I should have done that.
My precious brothers and sisters, when Jesus called Barry’s name, there was no power in the universe that could stop him from responding to Jesus’ call.
Don’t you grieve to despair over what might have been.
Rather praise God that Barry’s name was written in the Lamb’s book of life, and that Jesus has from the before the foundation of the world chosen to call him home.
Jesus said to Mary “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."
In verses 21 and 22, we see Martha running to meet Jesus when she sees Him coming, and she says to Him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."
My friends, it is good for us to rejoice today in the grace of God, because Barry believed in Jesus Christ.
We grieve the effects of sin, which brought about the Fall and death - enemies of God’s perfect creation.
All of her hope lay exclusively and firmly in the Lord Jesus Christ's power to raise her brother from the dead.
ll of her hope lay exclusively and firmly in the Lord Jesus Christ's power to raise her brother from the dead.
We grieve that our precious brother was not unaffected by it, and that the effects of sin in the world meant that he had to face the inevitability of death - just like all of us will have to.
Much like Mary, Barry’s only hope
In verses 21 and 22, we see Martha running to meet Jesus when she sees Him coming, and she says to Him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."
4 days had past since Lazarus had died. But still, Martha had hope. All of her hope lay exclusively and firmly in the Lord Jesus Christ's power to raise her brother from the dead.
Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again. I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."
It is good for us to rejoice today in the grace of God, because Barry had that same hope.
In the midst of all the uncertainty, the unanswered questions, and the grief... Jesus gives us this most sure and certain hope:
Because of Jesus ultimate victory over sin and death on the cross, death has no sting and no effect on those who have put their faith, and their hope and their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because of Jesus ultimate victory over sin and death on the cross, death has no sting and no effect on those who have put their faith, and their hope and their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
All who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, in that moment that they believe, they receive eternal life.
Even though we should die biologically, our physical death does not in the slightest affect or disturb the continuity of LIFE for those who belong to Jesus Christ.
No my friends, an instant after Barry breathed his last breath on earth, He was staring into the glorious face of Jesus, and he experienced a fullness of joy and life that we will only know when we get to experience it ourselves.
Whoever believes in Jesus Christ, though he should die, yet shall he live.
To the praise of God’s glorious grace, that was Barry’s hope. He had no other.
And so, even while we grieve, it is at the same time both appropriate and good for us to rejoice in the glorious grace of God in Barry’s life.
It is both appropriate

It is Good to Give God Glory

Finally, then, the 3rd reflection that we can take from this passage is that it is good for us to give God glory...
.... and to glorify Him in praise and worship for all that He is and all that He has done.
I want to acknowledge that there are still unanswered questions.
I want to acknowledge that we might not always know why God does what He does, and we don’t always understand His will and His purposes.
When Jesus wept, some of the Jews were moved by how much Jesus loved Lazarus....
Now when Jesus wept, some of the Jews were moved by how much Jesus loved Lazarus....
Let me tell you why hoping in Jesus is not just a last resort, but the only certain hope that anyone can have.
You see, in no part of this story do Martha or Mary, or anyone else for that matter, ask Jesus to intervene for Lazarus on the basis of any righteous act or virtue of his or their own.
Like Lazarus, Mary, Martha, the Jews, and every one of us are corrupted by the sin that came into the world in that brought destruction into God's perfect design.
Now when Jesus wept, some of the Jews were moved by how much Jesus loved Lazarus....
…but in verse 37 we see that others asked “couldn’t this same Jesus who heals the blind also have kept Lazarus from dying?”
We might be asking, could Jesus not have healed Barry or kept him from leaving us?
In verse 6 we see that when Jesus heard that Lazarus was ill, he remained where he was for 2 more days.
Lazarus sisters might have wondered, why is Jesus not responding?
If Jesus really loved Lazarus so much, why did he delay when he heard the news? Why didn’t he come to Lazarus right away?
We might be asking likewise why the Lord seemed not to respond to our prayers for Barry?
My friends, some questions we will never know the answer to on this side of eternity.
What is important is that we trust the Lord, and know that as Paul says in , He is working all things for the good of those who love him.
While we are in the dark it is hard to see, but faith is knowing that God sees all and is sovereign over all....
....and that everything God does is ultimately good and for His glory.
Could Jesus have prevented Lazarus’ death?
Yes He could have.
But what do we see in verse 4 in Jesus’ response to hearing that Lazarus is ill?
John 11:4 ESV
But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
What do we see in verse 15 in Jesus response to the disciples lack of faith?
John 11:14–15 ESV
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
John 11:14 ESV
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died,
John
Why did Jesus wait until Lazarus had been in the tomb 4 days before coming to him?
Why did Jesus wait until Lazarus had been in the tomb 4 days before coming to him?
Well, according to the Jewish traditions of the day, a person’s spirit hovered over the body for 3 days and then left, after which there was no hope of resuscitation.
Jesus specifically waited 4 days to be at Lazarus’ tomb so that He could demonstrate His power in raising Lazarus from the dead...
…so that they would know that this was no coincidence of nature, but the manifest power of Jesus
Showing everybody that He is in fact the Son of God.
Friends, what we can see in the answers to all these questions is that for everything that Jesus did in this narrative, He had a specific purpose for doing it.
He did everything He did for a reason.
And in every instance Jesus’ ultimate purpose was not for the physical well-being of the people involved, though He certainly cares for that...
but His primary concern is for their spiritual good.
He wanted them to witness His power over life and death.
He wanted them to see His glory.
He wanted them to believe.
Ultimately, as we see in verse 4, His purposes were for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.
in the moment of pain, we might not understand God’s purposes.
But ultimately God is working
Our circumstances are no different.
Already Jesus has been glorified this week in the way that the Church has responded and shown such unity and love.
I would go so far as to say that the bond that holds us together in unity in Christ is as strong today as it has ever been - and I believe Barry would have been extremely happy to know that.
We have been demonstrating to a lost world this week that Christ is glorious, that His Church is beautiful and united, held together by a love beyond comparison...
....and that even in death we have a certain hope, a promised future and a guaranteed inheritance.
When the lost experience death, they have no hope!
They have no answers.
They have no solid ground to stand on.
Only despair and loss.
Is that you?
Have you put your hope in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Have you cast aside all other hopes to trust in Him alone?
Or are you still struggling with your own faith?
You know, in verse 40, after Martha showed a lack of faith when she warned Jesus about the odor in the tomb, Jesus said to her:
John 11:40 ESV
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
Hear those words of Jesus this morning as if He is speaking them to you right now.
Jesus said in verses 25-26:
John 11:25–26 ESV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Then let us
John 11:
Do you?
Then let us respond as Martha did in verse 27, one of the greatest confessions in all of scripture:
John 11:27 ESV
She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
We say come, Lord Jesus, come.
and May God receive the glory due His Name.
And all God’s people say “Amen”
Not physical but ultimatey our spiritual good
’s purposes are perfect, His promises are certain, and that what awaits us
Our text tells us that this is the same Mary who anointed Jesus with the outrageously expensive ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, which pastor Barry preached about quite recently.
When her brother became ill, she went to the Lord, knowing who He is and acting in the faith that she could rely on Him to help in such desperate circumstances.
And when she finds Jesus, she says to Him, “Lord, he whom you love is ill”
In verse 5 too, John emphasizes again that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
So from the outset we understand that there is a very special love that is shared between the siblings and Jesus.
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