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Two things you hope people say about you at your funeral? Plan to make that hope come true?
John 11:1–44 ESV
1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 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 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples 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 meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” 17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 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 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from 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.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” 28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 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. 32 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.” 33 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. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 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.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 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.”
2 days longer. Confident the end result would not be Lazarus’ death, he stayed.
12 hours in a day. Time was short in the greater scheme.
He had been in the tomb 4 days. Jews customarily buried the dead on the day of death. That puts the timing of his death on the day Jesus got the message. Jesus wasnt waiting for Lazarus to die, he was already dead.
The resurrection on the last day. Some Jews believed there would be no resurrection.
Jesus wept. His weeping is directly related to the failure of His followers to recognize that the Son of God was in their midst! He had just reacted to the loud wailings of the hired mourners with ‘angered’ and ‘perturbed’. They had missed the point! Jerusalem refused to come to Him. Disciples future. Disciples weaknesses.
Do you know what a conjunction is? Conjunction Junction. I dont know whose voice it was that sang those School House Rock songs, but when I hear it I’m 7 years old sitting in front of my grandmother’s tv with milk and oreos and LIFE IS GOOD! And But Or The grave is but a conjunction, joining this life with life continued, perfected.
vv 14-15
The love between Jesus and these 3 siblings.
The gospels record the strengths that come from Mary and Martha’s personalities. We see the love Jesus had for Lazarus expressed in this very chapter.
I am the resurrection and the life
When Jesus makes His way to Bethany, both Martha and Mary, separately, make the same statement: Lord, if you had been here our brother would not have died.
Jesus makes the great I AM statement here: I am the resurrection and the life. He did not say this of Lazarus but in light of the circumstances Lazarus was in. His body had no life in it.
The sisters believed there would be a resurrection, and a life to follow. Jesus is opening their eyes to Himself as the Resurrection. As the Life.
Jesus wept.
His weeping is directly related to the failure of His followers to recognize that the Son of God was in their midst! He had just reacted to the loud wailings of the hired mourners with ‘angered’ and ‘perturbed’. They had missed the point! Jerusalem refused to come to Him. Disciples future. Disciples weaknesses.
A growing faith: the difference between healer and power over death
We see this incredibly encouraging truth emerge from the story. The sisters both saw Jesus with the power to heal. His simple presence would have kept death at bay.
They believed, on the day Lazarus died, that Jesus presence would have set that right.
They believed, on the day Lazarus’ life was restored, that Jesus had power over even death! Their faith had been growing up to the point of Lazarus’ death, and now even more!
God will grow our faith as far as we will let Him through any given circumstance. If I wallow in my circumstances. If I find myself like Peter, standing on the water, but taking my eyes off Jesus, I will no longer allow Him to increase my faith.
vv. 36-37 A divided response: tender affection and cruel cynicism. Those who were gathered to mourn were already divided on the nature of Jesus. This would only further split that rift.
The table is set for the glory of the Father and the Son:
Lazarus come forth!
The retelling of this story has taken on many forms. It is a joy to celebrate Jesus’ power over death.
It is probably true that had Jesus not named Lazarus specifically, many others in that tomb would have reconstructed and come walking out. Let’s remember that Jesus waited 2 days before He came to Bethany.
Ever wondered what He did in that time? “Father, what am I allowed to do that will glorify you? My compassion is telling me to RUN there now! Hold me steady. Keep me according to your will.”
I want to tell you that Jesus strutted up to that tomb, calling Lazarus to come out. The theme from Rocky began to play… but I cant.
Jesus knew this one act would bring more heat on him (and the 3) than any single act He had done on earth. It would hurl Him straight toward Golgotha.
And Lazarus did come forth! But imagine that for a moment: What made it ok to re-enter the world with all the same problems? Even more. I’m sure the day he died, Mary and Martha cried for him not to go. To come back. He didnt for them.
Only Jesus! He loved Jesus. Walking out was an act of obedience. Real obedience. Not acquiescence, But that obedience was rooted in a deep love that made it ok to leave the (at least) peace or even very presence of God. He was walking toward Jesus. Lifeway wasnt waiting to sign him to a book deal. Hallmark didnt call to get the movie rights. In fact, the Jews put him right next to Jesus on the post office most wanted board.
In this world, when Jesus calls us, we often are leaving the chaos, stress, difficulty of this current life. So walking toward Jesus looks pretty good.
Lazarus’ two deaths
This wasnt the only time Lazarus died. It wasnt even the best time. The next time, he got to stay dead!
Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?
Do you believe that you will see the glory of God? That glory is something this mortal body cannot withstand. He had to protect Moses so that this same glory wouldnt kill him. John the revelator tried to put in to words what he saw. But he was using a very limited vocabulary to describe a limitless God.
The restoration of Lazarus’ life compared with the resurrection and glorification of Jesus.
This is a thrilling story with a sad interlude and a very happy ending.
Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Death, Enoch’s Translation to Heaven

“Mamma,” she said, “one day Enoch and God took a walk together. They walked and they talked, and they talked and they walked, until Enoch finally said, ‘Oh, my, dear Lord, it’s getting late. I’d better go home.’ And the Lord said, ‘Why, Enoch, we’ve been walking so long together, I believe we’re closer to my home than yours. Why don’t you come home with me tonight?’” So Enoch went home with God.

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