The Call To Life
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
INTRO: Ramsey and stealing my egg salad
Problem, Person, Pleading
1. The Problem in the Case (John 11:1) "Now a certain man was sick" (John 11:1). The problem in this case was sickness. The sickness was severe enough to cause death. With Lazarus being devoted to Christ, it reminds us that godliness is no exemption from trials. Godliness does not prevent trials, but it provides comfort and help in trials that ungodliness does not provide. 2. The Person in the Case (John 11:1, 2, 5) "A certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus" (11:1, 2, 5). These verses give us some pertinent information about the person in the case. • The name of the person. The person in the case of this miracle was named Lazarus. There are two men named Lazarus in the Bible. The other Lazarus is found in Luke 16 in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in which Christ gave a detailed and horrifying glimpse of what the unredeemed sinner will experience in eternity. • The sisters of the person. Lazarus was a "brother" (John 11:2) of Mary and Martha. These two woman were greatly devoted to Christ. Scripture specifically mentions that "it was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick" (John 11:2; see Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12). This notation about Mary not only shows her great devotion to Christ but distinguishes her from the other Marys in the New Testament. • The affection for the person. "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick... Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus" (John 11:3, 5). Twice our text tells us that Christ loved Lazarus. Later, Christ refers to Lazarus as "Our friend" (John 11:11) which also shows Christ's affection for Lazarus. "Our" in the "Our friend" emphasizes that Lazarus was not only a friend of Christ but also a friend of the disciples as well. Lazarus had good friends! This speaks highly of his character. 3. The Place in the Case (John 11:1, 18) "Bethany" (John 11:1). Lazarus was from the small town of Bethany which is located "about fifteen furlongs [approximately two miles]" (John 11:18) east of Jerusalem on the hillside of Mount Olivet. Though small, Bethany was a famous town in the Bible because of its good reception of Christ, especially the reception given Christ by Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Scripture records Christ visiting in the home of Mary and Martha there (Luke 10:38-42), raising Lazarus there (John 11:44), being feted at a supper there (John 12:1, 2), being anointed by Mary there (John 12:3-8), lodging there instead of Jerusalem when ministering in Jerusalem during the day (Matthew 21:17), and ascending from near there (Luke 24:50, 51). It was not its size that brought Bethany fame, but its attitude towards Christ and His Word. 4. The Pleading in the Case (John 11:3) "His sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick" (John 11:3). The sisters pleading to Christ for their brother Lazarus gives us some good lessons on prayer. • The alternative of prayer. Prayer does not seem to be an alternative to many folk in time of trouble. When trouble comes, they do everything but pray. However, the Word of God says, "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray" (James 5:13). Most of us grumble, complain, and tell a host of others about our troubles before we pray and tell God about our troubles. • The ardor in prayer. "His sisters sent unto him" (John 11:3). The ardor of the sisters' prayer is especially seen in their sending a messenger a day's journey to see Christ. They lived in a village which was about a day's journey from where Christ was at the time (John 10:39, 40; cp. John 1:28). If we are not earnest when we pray, we cannot expect God to be earnest about our praying and our needs. • The abasement in prayer. "Lord" (John 11:3). "Lord" says Mary and Martha knew their humble place before Christ. Humility is a must for acceptable praying. The great prayers in the Bible are filled with humility. As an example, when Abraham pleaded with God about sparing Sodom, Abraham said he was but "dust and ashes" (Genesis 18:27). Always keep a humble posture before God when praying. • The acquiescence in prayer. It is most significant that in their plea to Christ for help, the sisters did not request Christ to do some specific action. It is not necessarily evil to request God to do something specific. In fact, this needs to be done on most occasions. However, here they simply told Christ that Lazarus was sick and then let Christ decide what to do. There was a spiritual acquiescence here that is most commendable. Sometimes we do not know exactly how to pray about a problem (Romans 8:26). However, that should not stop our praying to the Lord. Simply tell the Lord the problem and ask for help. Let Him decide how best to help you. • The adoration in the prayer. "He whom thou lovest" (John 11:3). In pleading with Christ about Lazarus, the two sisters did not emphasize their or Lazarus' virtues. These three certainly had the virtues to plead in contrast to most others. Instead of emphasizing their virtues, they emphasized the virtues of Christ. They emphasized Christ's love. It was so commendable to emphasize His love here, for when trial comes, we have a tendency to think God does not love us. Good praying involves adoration for God.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Purpose, Prolonging, Pursuing, Path
The Purpose of the Case (John 11:4) "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (John 11:4). Stating the purpose of the sickness was directed not only to the messenger of the sisters but also to Christ's disciples who were with Him at the time. They needed to know the purpose as well as Mary and Martha. • The negative in the purpose. "This sickness is not unto death." This is not a contradiction to what happened. It is true that Lazarus died, but that was not the end result. Sometimes we say an injury will not cripple when it has at the time crippled. What we mean is that it will not cripple permanently. This is the meaning of the statement here. It gives perspective of our trials. While our trials at the moment seem to be destroying us, they ultimately are for our good and will build us up, not destroy us. • The positive in the purpose. "For the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Both God the Father and God the Son would be glorified as a result of this sickness of Lazarus. It is like what Christ told the disciples in John 9:3 about why the blind man was blind. 6. The Prolonging of the Case (John 11:6) "When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was" (John 11:6). The work of Christ was delayed until the sick person had died. The delay this time was caused by the decision of Christ to not go immediately to Lazarus' help. This action by Christ seemed to show a lack of interest. But that was not the case at all. Furthermore, it certainly cannot be said to show a lack of love either, for just before this verse about the delay of Christ, is a verse that plainly states His love for Lazarus. The delay was, in fact, a result of love. Christ in love wanted to give them greater help for their faith than just healing the sick. His delay made that possible. There are times when only prolonged suffering can give us the best blessings. However, it is harder to wait for the Lord than to wait on the Lord.
6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Counsel, Consolation, Cognizance, Command, Conquering
The Pursuing of Counsel (John 11:20) To obtain this choice counsel from Christ, Martha had to pursue Christ. • The sagacity of the pursuit. "Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him" (John 11:20). Martha was wise to pursue Jesus Christ in the time of her sorrow. No one gives better counsel in time of sorrow. But if you want counsel from Christ, you must pursue Christ. • The singularity of the pursuit. "But Mary sat still in the house" (John 11:20). Some think this text faults Mary for not responding as Martha responded to the news that "Jesus was coming" (John 11:20). But we believe Mary is absolved of any fault here in at least three ways. First, Mary's quick and earnest response later to the news that Christ was calling for her personally (John 11:28, 29) absolves her of fault. Second, The fact that Martha later told Mary that "The Master is come" (John 11:28) would indicate that when Martha first heard of Christ's coming, she did not tell Mary but ran quickly to see Christ. "Martha was a woman of impulse, energy, practical duty; like Peter... On the first opportunity [after hearing that Christ was on the way] she hastened at once to meet Jesus, even without at first warning her sister of his approach" (Reynolds). This fact also will absolve Mary of fault. Third, The word "still" in our text is not in the Greek. To some the word "still" seems to mean that "in spite of" hearing that Christ was coming, Mary "still" continued to stay in the house mourning. But "still" is not in the Greek. So again Mary is absolved of fault. Mary was not pouting or of such a wounded spirit that she would not go with Martha to meet Christ. Mary simply was not made aware of the fact that Christ had come to Bethany until Martha told her later. 3. The Protesting Before the Counsel (John 11:21) "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died" (John 11:21). In the time of trouble, folk often dishonor God by complaining about God's conduct. Here the protesting reflected a weakness of faith which required the bodily presence of Christ in order for Him to work. Martha was not alone in this thinking, for many who sought Christ thought it necessary for Him to be present physically at the scene of the problem in order to remedy the situation. 4. The Praise Before the Counsel (John 11:22) "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee" (John 11:22). Martha is a mixture of faith and doubt and of praise and protest. Here she praised Christ, but it was limited praise for it demoted Christ from His equal with God the Father. This demotion is found in the Greek verb translated "ask" in "ask of God." This verb denotes an inferior asking a superior. Christ never used that verb in regards to His speaking with His Divine Father. The verb He used was one of equality. Martha was right, however, in that whatever Christ prayed for He got as is attested in John 11:41. We will see further on that Martha improved her view of Christ in her later profession of faith about Him (John 11:27). 5. The Promise in the Counsel (John 11:23, 24) "Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (John 11:23, 24). Christ's promise was encouraging but Martha did not understand it. • The particulars of the promise. Christ made a great promise. He promised that Lazarus would be raised from the dead. It was announcing the miracle in advance. • The perplexity about the promise. Martha missed the meaning of the promise. She thought it applied only to the future general resurrection. Martha did have some good theology (she was no Sadducee who denied the resurrection), for there will indeed be a future resurrection of God's people. But she had given up on the case of Lazarus and thought it was too late to do anything good for him. Like many of us, Martha had faith for the past and faith for the future, but she did not have much faith for the present. 6. The Proclamation in the Counsel (John 11:25, 26) "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead [though he dies], yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25, 26). This message is the great hope of the Gospel. Martha was privileged to hear from the very lips of Christ some of the greatest teaching one could ever hear. • The proclamation about the person of Christ. "I am." (John 11:25). The great Gospel proclamation begins fittingly with the person of Jesus Christ. Who is He? This text tells us Who He is. He is the great "I am" of the Scriptures. This goes back to Exodus 3 where Jehovah identified Himself to Moses by the great name of "I am that I am" (Exodus 3:14) or the abbreviated form "I am" (Exodus 3:14). Since Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New Testament, and what is concealed in the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament, we are not surprised to find the "I am" amplified in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John which emphasizes the Deity of Christ. In John, the "I am" is used to amplify the person of Christ some twenty times, such as, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35); "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12); "I am the door" (John 10:9); "I am the good shepherd" (John 10:11); "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6); "I am the true vine" (John 15:5); and in our text, "I am the resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25). • The proclamation about the prominence of Christ. "I am the resurrection, and the life." In the previous verse (John 11:24), Martha was looking at an event—"the resurrection at the last day." Christ changed her focus from an event to a person. The resurrection was in Him. We all need this focus. Especially do we need this focus today regarding the second coming of Christ. Many people seem very interested in the events that will happen regarding the second coming, but our main interest needs to be in Jesus Christ Who is coming back. • The proclamation about the possessions in Christ. "Resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25) are great possessions which we have in Christ. When Martha had "intimated... that, if he would pray to God for the restoration of their brother to life, God would grant his request, he told them [her] that he need not beseech God to effect it; for that he himself was the resurrection and the life; and was able to impart either bodily or spiritual life to whomsoever he would" (Simeon). And note that Christ is both the resurrection and the life. The resurrection is the beginning; life is what follows. Spiritually, the resurrection frees the sinner from the deadness of sin (Ephesians 2:1). Bodily it raises the dead from the sepulcher. But the resurrection is not all. There is also life. Christ gives us more than existence. He gives us expression, experience, energy, enjoyment, and excitement. • The proclamation about the prerequisite for Christ. "He that believeth in me, though he were dead [though he dies]... whosoever liveth and believeth in me" (John 11:25, 26). Faith in Christ is the prerequisite we must have to obtain the resurrection and the life which Christ gives. John 11:25 speaks of those who are dead physically but by faith in Christ are saved. John 11:26 speaks of those who are alive physically and become saved by faith in Christ. These verses speak of three important things about this faith. First, the prominence of faith. Twice in these two verses "believeth" appears. This shows the prominence of faith in obtaining the resurrection and life in Christ. Unbelief gains you nothing worthwhile. It leaves you empty handed. Second, the place of faith. This faith must be placed in Jesus Christ. Faith in just anything will not do. It is faith in Jesus Christ. Today we hear much about faith. But when speaking of faith, many do not include Jesus Christ. However, without Christ, there is no saving faith. Third, the period of faith. The "liveth" of "whosoever liveth" in John 11:26 warns that the period of faith—the time when you need faith in Jesus Christ—is in this earthly life. Believing in Jesus Christ must occur in this life if the resurrection and life are to be yours. • The proclamation about the power of Christ. "Though he were dead" (John 11:25). These words are better translated, "though he dies"; for they refer to an event not a condition. It means that though a believer in Jesus Christ dies, he still has not lost the blessing of the resurrection and life. • The proclamation about the possibilities in Christ. "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:26). "Whosoever" says the Gospel is open to anyone who will believe. Christ is able to save anyone. "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21). • The proclamation about the protection in Christ. "Shall never die" (John 11:26). This refers to spiritual death—that second death which is separation from God in "the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). The extent of the protection is found in the word translated "never." It is the Greek double negative ou me. As we have noted before, a double negative in the English language cancels out the negative. But the double negative in the Greek emphasizes the permanency of the negative. In its usage here, it teaches the security of the believer. It says once a person is saved, that person is always saved. 7. The Profession After the Counsel (John 11:26, 27) "Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord; I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world" (John 11:26, 27). Christ forced Martha to deal with the truth. It was her decision time. Martha's response to the question from Christ was a short and powerful profession of faith about Jesus Christ. • The emphaticalness of the profession. "Yea, Lord; I believe." Martha's profession of faith about Christ was a dogmatic, unashamed, and forthright profession of faith in Christ. This is the only way to profess, practice, and proclaim our faith in Christ. • The excellence of the profession. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." This profession confessed Jesus as Messiah ("Christ"), as God ("Son of God"), and as Savior ("which should come into the world"). It was Christ-centered and Christ-honoring. • The exceptionalness of the profession. Martha's profession of faith was exceptional in at least three ways. First, it was exceptional because of the unpopularity of the creed. Second, it was exceptional because of the uncomfortable circumstances. Not many folk will make such a Christ-honoring statement when in dire circumstances. Third, it was exceptional because of the undaunted courage involved. It took great boldness to take such a stand for Christ in those days.
3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.