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John #31 The Death of a Friend

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That you may Believe and have Life #31

John 11:1-37

Well … death is something I usually don’t have an opportunity to talk with people about until they actually lose someone or in the sad event when death is the diagnosis and people are trying to come to grips with it. 

But death is a different story when it happens to a Friend of Jesus …

So, I want us to talk about death today …

There are three primary groups here today …

There is Jesus

There are the family and close friends of Lazarus

And there are his disciples

All three had a different perspectives on the death of a friend

Maybe by the time we get to the end today, we can all have the perspective of Christ when it comes to the death of a friend

Losing a friend or family member to death is a difficult and painful thing.

We lost our friend John Betzler this week it was unexpected and a shock, but I’ve often said that death always comes one day sooner than we expect … it is always a shock, whether young or old, weak or strong, sick or well … it is always a shock …

Jesus lived a normal existence … he was not a stranger to death … it is assumed that Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, most likely died when he was young, since Jesus’ mother, brothers and sisters are all prominent in his adult life, but no word of Joseph.

So he knew death. 

He knew grief.

And the death of a friend of Christ is shown to us in John chapter 11 … we’re going to be in this story for the next two weeks so … let’s begin

READ 11:1-37

Allow me to move around freely in this story and lets learn some things from this story …

In the death of a friend … you can be sure that …

1. Jesus Grieves With Us

  A. Jesus is Moved

One of the most remembered verses in the Bible is verse 35 – Jesus Wept …

He is empathetic not just sympathetic

He felt there struggles, not just knew of their struggles. 

The prefix “sym” means “along with, together, at the same time” … but “em” means “put into, cover with; provide with; so as to cover”

The person who is sympathetic understands what you are feeling … but a person who is empathetic feels what you feel, they enter into it with you …

Notice it in vv 33 and 35 but notice the difference

It says Mary and those with her were weeping and then it says Jesus wept. … it makes it clear that Jesus wept WHEN he saw them … but there is a difference

It says He saw Mary and the others “weeping”  - klaio – to mourn, weep, lament, weeping as a sign of pain and grief for the thing signified; to bewail

That is what the women were doing … but it says “Jesus wept” – dakruo – to weep, shed tears

The difference isn’t little.

Their weeping was a complicated conglomerate of emotions

They wept because Lazarus was gone

They wept because of the uncertainty of his future as some believed in the Resurrection and some didn’t and some weren’t sure

They wept because they were angry because Jesus hadn’t come in time to heal him

Perhaps they wept angry that God had allowed him to be sick in the first place

They wailed in a combination of all those things …

And Jesus wept … he shed tears just as they did, I’m sure that there was PAIN in his crying … but his pain was for those he saw crying … his weeping was because he felt their pain and so wished he could take it from him

But notice that HIS weeping was without the hopeless wailing, without the anger, without the fear, …

1 Thes 4:13 says that we do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope …

Jesus was grieving but NOT without hope … he knew the end of this story …

How do you grieve … like someone who doesn’t know the end of the story … or like someone who knows the end of the story and is grieving the space that this person leaves behind, but NOT grieving the end of the story or the current location …

But know that Jesus is moved when we lose a friend and

  B. He Will Comfort Us

Jesus Christ is a God of all compassion

Mat. 11:28-30 – come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest …”

Ps. 116:5 “the Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion”

2 Cor 1:3 “praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort”

  C. Jesus is not Silent just because death has come

How many times have you lost someone after praying for them to get well or be safe and you lost them

And perhaps you have said … “Jesus didn’t answer our prayer” …


Let’s be gentle but honest, that answer shows that we are still spiritual children …

Our children ask us something and unless we say “yes” … they think we don’t love them, they act

But they fail to admit that “no” is an answer … or that he HAS answered with what we were praying for … it’s just that the location has changed …

We need to see things from the perspective of Heave

We need to see things from the perspective of the truth that we say we believe …

Why are we sad when a person passes and say “well I guess it wasn’t the Lord’s will to heal them” …

And we say

The Lord BLESSED them with more time … when he leaves them in the struggles, pain, and dying life …

Isn’t Heaven a perfect place?

Isn’t Heaven a place without pain?

Isn’t THAT healing?

If you prayed for healing and God allows your Christian friend or family member to pass from this life, haven’t they been healed?

I am NOT saying that we can’t or shouldn’t ask the Lord for healing … I’m just saying lets keep things in perspective …

Jesus is NOT silent to our request … when the person dies in Christ Jesus …

What was the word that Jesus sent back to Mary and Martha?

What was the answer to their “pray request”? 

“This Sickness will NOT end in Death, no it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it”

2. Death is Not the End

  A. Sickness will not end in Death

Let me say something that perhaps you have never thought of but we NEED to move into our thinking …

IF you know Christ as your Lord and Savior … you can be confident that no matter what the prognosis … No sickness will ever END in Death … because death is NOT the end for those who know Christ Jesus …

Death is a doorway …

Death is a transition

Death in an opportunity to know Christ

Death is an opportunity to God to be glorified

What brings Christ MORE glory than to translate us into his presence and our faith to be sight … for us to finish the work of salvation and move from justification to glorification?

NOTHING brings God or Christ more glory than the death of a saint

Psalm 116:15 says Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints

You should go read Psalm 116 because it is a balanced understanding of living, death, dying, and deliverance from death

Early in the chapter David sings of the Lord delivering him from the brink of death and it brings glory to God

But then he also understands that when death comes … it is not from the hand of a fickle God but of a loving caring God who loves his saints and welcomes their death as he transforms them into his presence and he is WORTHY of praise

Death is NOT the End … the worst sickness of this world does NOT end in death …

  B. Your Spirit Will Never Die

Every Spirit is Eternal … you will continue to exist when your body dies and if you know Christ … You will NEVER die Body or Spirit  …
Jesus encouraged Martha …

I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies … do you believe this?

Oh and don’t worry about your Body …

  C. Jesus Will Awaken the Body

Jesus said “Your Brother will rise again”

… now YES Jesus was going to raise Lazarus THAT day … but folks … Lazarus’ physical body DID die another time … he is not still walking this earth … but he is not dead …

His body has long ago decomposed down to his bones which are buried somewhere in Palestine … probably near Bethany.

But it won’t stay that way …

Go back to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

If the Lord delays his coming and I die on this earth, This body is going to the grave and eventually from dust we were created and to dust I will return …

But he will not LEAVE me there

David knew the promise for himself and it was because of the coming Messiah and his resurrection … David wrote

My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave nor will you let your Holy One see decay; you have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand

Peter quoted these verses in Acts 2 as he preached Christ … and because Christ was not abandoned to the grave but rose from the grave … Christ will not leave our grave there … He will transform all of us … body AND soul.  This body has been subject to death because of sin, just as my spirit.  So when Christ saved my Spirit, he promised to save my body too. 

One other thing I want us to see

3. Don’t Assume God is Powerless

We often make the faulty assumption that God can’t do what we have asked … that he is unable

Well … there’s some things that God just can’t do …

These folks were making some assumptions about Jesus

That he wasn’t Able


That he wasn’t Good


That he doesn’t Care

Let’s go back to the story …

Lazarus was sick … Lazarus died … now chances are they did NOT bury him immediately … we know that Jesus was at least a two day journey away … since he waited two days after hearing of the illness, traveled there and then found Lazarus had been in the tomb already for 4 days …

So, if it took the messenger two day to get there … and Jesus waited two days, traveled two days … so, at least 6 days had passed from the time this guy left until Jesus arrived …

AND … we can be SURE that when Jesus got word of Lazarus’ sickness … Lazarus was already dead …

Now, if you remember, Jesus elsewhere heals a man’s son just with a word … so Jesus didn’t have to be there … to heal him OR to raise him …

But Lazarus is already dead … and Jesus says … there is a purpose

  A. Death Glorifies Father and Son

The death of the saint glorifies both Father AND Son … why? Remember the Greek word DOXA which is translated glory and ultimately means reputation … God’s reputation is based on who he is and what he does.  He is glorified in US as in our death, God KEEPS his greatest promises

Jesus Christ came with the ministry of Reconciliation … who is he reconciling?

US … Jesus Christ is reconciling Sinful man, who is estranged from God … back into relationship with God

When Jesus Christ died on the cross … he reconciled all who would believe in and receive him … He brought us back to God Spiritually …

But when we die in Christ … he reconciles us into God’s Presence and our FAITH BECOMES SIGHT …

Yes the death of Lazarus glorified God because Jesus worked a miracle / a sign pointing to the power of God in Christ Jesus

But it brings the greatest reputation of faithfulness to Father AND Son when the saint passes into the Presence of God …

He is NOT powerless …  on the contrary …

When the Friend of Christ, the born again saint passes from THIS life into the next …

  B. His Grace is Made Complete

What do I mean?

What is grace?  It is receiving what you don’t deserve.

Well … the end of Grace is NOT just being part of the family of God

Grace is NOT just being able to join a fellowship of believers

Grace has a purpose … Salvation is finished … but grace isn’t finished yet

The greatest gift of what we do not deserve is coming into the presence of God

1 peter 1:13 says we should set our hope fully on the GRACE to be given when Jesus Christ is Revealed …

When we see Christ in glory … in Heaven … when we ourselves are glorified … the Grace of God in Christ will be complete …

Death is just graduation from this school we call life and into LIFE REAL LIFE

Oh do not think that death means God is powerless …

The Death of Lazarus served the purpose of showing them that Jesus was NOT powerless and had power OVER death …

But do not think that the death of a Saint means that God is Powerless …


  C. The Greatest Healing Is In Heaven

Here – the Body is still dying – Even when Jesus answers your prayer and  your Friend gets Better … leaves the hospital … they are STILL subject to this dying world … Lazarus was raised from the dead but he still died …

But when we leave this world … as a saint, a born again friend of Christ … we are taken to Heaven and

There – We are Eternal … death is no longer a law that we will live by …

God’s greatest work is saved for AFTER this life

In the great treatise on the Resurrection …

Paul teaches us from 1 Corinthians 15

V20 – Christ has indeed raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep

And God’s greatest power will be wrote on transforming US into resurrected eternal beings

1 Corinthians 15:35-58 (NIV)
But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body…  42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. …  50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Death doesn’t mean we have a powerless God … any more than planting a seed means God is powerless

Planting a seed gives God the opportunity bring greater life FROM the seed …

Dead doesn’t mean God is powerless, it means God is now ABLE to exert the power of LIFE …

You may be facing death today, or you may have faced death in recent days or months. 

Perhaps you lost someone close to you and you don’t know if they were a friend of Christ or not.  Perhaps you KNOW that they weren’t and you are still troubled …

Listen, it is never easy to lose someone and be uncertain or certain and troubled by their eternal state.

We have all faced that … but we can’t do anything about that … and we can’t live life troubled by something for which we have no answer or control

But we can do something about today, we can do something about the future …

If you lost someone I am certain that they would want YOU to be certain of your eternity.

In Luke 16 a Rich man passed away and he was NOT a man of God and he went to hell and eternal life separated from God … what did he want for him family? 

Luke 16:27-28 I be you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers.  Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment

Listen children … I promise you that every friend or family member you know who has passed from this life wants you to be right with Jesus Christ that you might not fear death …

That is why in every funeral I speak of Christ as our only way and only hope

If you have lost someone and you have not been able to deal with the loss … stop trying on your own and fall into the arms of the one who cries with you, Jesus Christ

He feels what you feel, he knows your pain

His compassion is empathetic not just sympathetic

He will comfort you if you allow him

His shoulders are big enough to take your tears, your anger, your fears, and all the emotion you have. 

You need to be ready to meet Christ 

That only happens through making Jesus Christ Lord

If you are still mourning the loss of a loved one …

If they knew Christ, do what they are doing now … that is rejoicing in the fullness of Joy … worshipping Christ with all they have …

Worship Christ … that is that the most powerful way to deal with grief

If you have lost a loved one and that did not know Christ, I am very sorry for that and THEY are very sorry for that … but they too … want YOU to Worship Christ …

Death is tough on us

Dying and pain may be worse …

But the Glory of the Presence of Christ can help us through the pain of this dying existence

And ultimately the Glory of the presence of Christ will wipe away every tear, will cause every fear to disappear, will answer every question …


The Pain of sickness

The Pain of death

Is washed away when Jesus Shows Up …

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