Faithlife Sermons

Rising From the Dead

Rev. Don Hackett, D.Min.
What Christians Believe  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
0 ratings

Was Jesus late? Can we trust God to help in time?


Sermon Rising from the Dead Pastor Don Hackett

1. Is God late?

Jesus was late. His friend was sick and dying. Jesus knew this. Mary and Martha had sent word to him. They believed Jesus could heal their brother, Lazarus. His name, Lazarus, means “God is my helper.” Where was the help?

Jesus makes a curious statement to his disciples upon hearing this news.

Jesus said,

“This sickness will not end in death.

No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

There is more to this situation than Lazarus is sick and needs serious intervention. God has a greater purpose in mind. Jesus could have rushed to his side and saved Lazarus at the last moment. He chose not to. He waited two days and then left to be with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

Has Jesus ever been late for you? I am serious. Have there been times in your life you said to Jesus, “Where were you? I needed you.” Maybe you felt you were all alone. Maybe you were in danger. Perhaps in a time of sickness or even death, you called out to God and sensed no reply. I am sorry you had to experience that. Those are hard times to suffer through. In this pandemic I find myself calling out to God, “Help us!” It seems at times things are getting worst. We are not alone. The book of Psalms is full of people who called out to God.

• My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Psalm 6:3

• How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 13:1

• How long, Lord, will you look on? Psalm 35:17

• How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Psalm 82:2

I highly recommend that the Psalms become one of your prayer books. At the end of the day, read a psalm or two until you find one that expresses your feelings and thought. Then use it as a springboard for your own prayers. There are 150 psalms. Some people like to go through the book of Psalms in a month by reading five throughout each day. What a wonder way to connect your heart to the heart of God. The world can be a mess. Our lives can be hard. God sees and understands all this. God invites us to join the Psalmists in bringing every concern and worry to the throne of God.

2. Waiting on God

Why did Jesus wait? This brings us to the question, “Why did Jesus not leave right away?” What was God up to? Let’s look again at the statement Jesus made:

“This sickness will not end in death.

No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

It becomes apparent in our text that Lazarus does die. He is dead when Jesus and the disciples arrive. In fact, he has been four days. The sickness did lead to death, but Jesus said it would not end in death. Jesus has a different ending in mind for Lazarus and this sickness. Why did Jesus not leave right away? Maybe to follow God’s plan, he had to make sure Lazarus was dead. He was dead alright! He was stinking dead. He had been dead long enough for all to hear and come. A burial had taken place and many people from the region gathered to mourn his loss and comfort Mary and Martha. The stage was set for God’s plan.

It is hard to wait on God. Life comes crashing down on us we get caught up in the pain and sorrow. Like Martha and Mary we wonder, “Where were you, Jesus? We know you could have made a difference.” It is helpful in the middle of a difficult time to create some space. Take a walk. Ride bike. Find a quiet corner of the house. As we quiet our bodies, minds, and souls, we put ourselves in a position to hear from God. Ask God the big life questions. What are you doing now, God? How do you want me to respond? Help me see the big picture of what you are doing in my life and in the lives of the people I know. Get me on the balcony of my life. Help me see again your purposes for me. What holds us up during these trying times is the fact that God is at work! God has not left the scene, but rather, is setting things up for our good. This is the promise we have in Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God is at work. We can trust ourselves to care of Jesus Christ.

3. Martha and Jesus

When Jesus and the disciples finally show up, Martha and Mary are confused, but hopeful. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” This is amazing faith Martha is displaying!

She knew Jesus. She knew his power, his heart, and his relationship with God.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Again, Martha leans into trusting the promises of God and replies: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Martha knows that those who trust God will be with God when they die. Martha is proclaiming her trust in God.

Going deeper with Jesus

Jesus leads her a step further in trust and says to her,

“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Many believe in God, but live like God does not really care or exists. Jesus wanted Martha to experience the full power and love of God in that moment. God was not an idea, but a living presence right in front of her. When you look at Jesus in the face, you see God. You see love that wants to bring you home.

Martha, God bless her, steps fully into the promises and reality of God in her midst. Martha replies to Jesus in full voice and confidence,

“Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God,

the one coming into the world.”

Yes, Jesus got what he was looking for…faith in Him! In fact, the reason he waited was to bring God glory and it was happening. Martha was growing closer to God even before the miracle occurred! God loves to release the Holy Spirit of power and comfort where people are showing faith.

Stepping deeper into our faith often happens before we see the outcomes. We can grow firmer in our trust in God, especially in the tough times.

• When God brings us through a difficult season, like the loss of a friend, spouse, or child, us know God will be always there.

• In the past 50 years, there have been plenty of difficult national times. We have seen the tragedy of 9/11 and resulting wars, growth of cyber scares, a pandemic, turmoil over social justice, and economic collapses in 2008 and in 2020.

Somehow God got us all through all that and more. The reason the Messiah Jesus came into our world was to join us in our mess and lead us out. In all this God is shaping us into people who can love deeply.

4. Lazarus come out

Jesus walks up the tomb of Lazarus and does a crazy thing. He wants them to open the tomb of dead man who has begun to decay. Martha hesitates and Jesus says to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone.

Now what? With them all watching, Jesus looked upward and said,

“Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that may believe that you sent me.”

Jesus could have performed the miracle and been done with it. That would have missed the purpose. Jesus told his disciples:

“This sickness will not end in death.

No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Jesus wanted all to know that he was not doing on his own. Jesus and God were one. They always worked together. He wanted everyone present to know that God was there, with him. Jesus declares the truth of his relationship with God and then does a miracle substantiate his claim.

“Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth.


If you and I were standing in the crowd that day, we would gone berserk with joy. I am sure children screamed and people fainted. No one does this kind of miracle! No one, but God. Jesus is not done. He says:

“Unbind him, and let him go.”

Lazarus had work to do. Untie him for he and you are witnesses to the powerful love, and glory of God you have just seen.

Where do you and I need unbinding today? Maybe we are all wrapped up and tied into knots over the election. Maybe we are tense with fear about what will happen next with this pandemic? Jesus comes to you and me saws, “Look to me. Take you eyes off what has you bound up and look to me. Talk to me. Let me fill you with hope and compassion. I need you out there serving. As you love and serving in my name, people will get a glimpse of me.

Let’s pray: God, we often do not understand what is really going on. We race around looking for the latest news but become even more anxious. Holy Spirit, settle us down. Remind us how much you love us, God. Jesus, lead us out the tomb into the light of your presence and joy we pray. Amen.

Related Media
Related Sermons