In A Friends Death
John the apostle certainly magnifies the deity of Jesus. He wants to leave us no doubt that Jesus is certainly the Christ, the Son of God, The Living Word, God became flesh and dwelling among us. He shows that to us these seven times in the seven sign miracles from chapter 2 through chapter 11.
In the past six messages of this series Jesus has done mighty and marvelous things. In chapter 2:1-12 He shows His power over the process of nature, and winemaking; in 4:43-54 His power is shown over sickness; in 5:1-16 His power over crippling; in 6:1-14 His power to increase and supply for all; in 6:15-21 His power over creation and His sovereignty over all creation; in chapter 9 His power to make the blind to see, and the seeing blind. In all of these we see people from all walks of life with different types of needs. Jesus meets evry need in His way. In these we see mankind as being needy and that there is only One who can meet these needs.
The greatest thing these former six sign miracles show us is the superiority, and sovereignty of our Lord to meet the needs of mankind.
The seventh sign-miracle is last to show the ultimate need of mankind. Even death has no power against the almighty power of our Creator.
This resurrection is superior in importance to the others that Jesus raised to life. It is superior because Lazarus has been in the grave for four days. The others had just died. Lazarus’s death was to be one that could leave no possibility for doubt; except for the reason of just cold hearted unbelief.
I. IT IS THE WORK OF GOD EVEN WHEN IT SEEMS AS THOUGH GOD IS NOT NEAR (vv. 1-16).
A. Lazarus is sick, Jesus is sent for, but doesn’t immediately go; He even waits for awhile before He starts toward Bethany, after two days (v. 6).
B. There are and will be times when we think God ought to show up, even, already be there, but we just don’t see it.
1. He is present and working to accomplish His purposes and plans not ours.
2. It is His glory for which He works, and for which we should live; not our own.
II. FOUR DAYS DEAD SEEMS LIKE A HOPELESS SITUATION (vv. 17-20).
A. Death seems so final, and that makes it as a hopeless situation for many; especially for the family of Lazarus, who had been dead for four days.
1. There is no doubt that Lazarus is dead.
2. Everyone who knows Lazarus knows he is dead, and there just seems to have been no hope – they had already given up –
“And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” John 11:37 (KJV)
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (KJV).
B. With death there is no apparent joy or praising of God, because it seems that all is lost.
III. HOPELESS SITUATIONS ARE GOD OPPORTUNITIES TO MOVE IN (vv. 21-27).
A. Hopeless situations are where our faith is built or crumbles.
1. At first Martha’s faith was limited to Jesus’s ability to heal and raise up a sick man.
2. Then her faith is seen as a fundamental in that she believed in the resurrection “at the last day” (vv. 23-24).
3. Finally her faith becomes unlimited when she sees her four day dead brother risen to life (vv. 41-44).
B. It is that fundamental faith, the one we truly believe that causes us to keep on going even when it seems there is no use to go on.
IV. WHEN THE HEART OF GOD WEEPS (vv. 28-37).
A. He may have wept because Lazarus was home with the Father, and He had to bring him back to a world of sin and affliction, and to death.
B. He may have wept because of the unbelief of those present, and of those of 2008, as well.
C. He may have wept because of the sin and death which plagues humanity.
D. He may have wept because of cold unconcern among those present and of today.
1. We have grown callused to sin and death.
2. Death is still our enemy – though not to fear it.
3. Death has been defeated by the resurrection; of the crucified Jesus; from the grave
V. HOPELESSNESS WILL CAUSE THE PEOPLE OF GOD TO CATCH THE STENCH OF SIN EVEN AS GOD DOES (vv. 38-44).
A. When Jesus called for the stone to be rolled from the grave, the word was, “by this time he stinketh”.
1. Isn’t it amazing how at the moment God is getting ready to work a miracle suddenly we are worried about the stench.
2. That stench is the putrid scent of rotting, decaying, flesh touched by sin.
B. The stench of death should remind us of the stench of sin in the nostrils of God.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” Ephesians 5:11.
VI. SET FREE FROM A HOPELESS SITUATION (v. 44)
A. Lazarus comes out of the grave, but still bound by the grave clothes he was buried in.
1. These would have contained the stink of the rotting body.
2. It would have been unholy for a priest to touch him.
3. He would not have had a good freedom of movement.
B. Being truly set free would have meant that he was dependent upon others.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galations 6:1-2 (KJV).
” Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 (KJV).
C. Those who have been born again have been freed from the bondage of death.
1. We are needy of others to be set free from the bondage of the old grave clothes.
2. These old graveclothes are the dependence of keeping the law for our righteousness.
3. The law is fulfilled through Jesus Christ, we are righteous through Him
4. Now free to serve Him, and no longer serving sin.
D. Spiritual death was our hopeless situation.
i. God is working even when we think He doesn’t care or isn’t near.
ii. Hopeless situations are God’s opportunities to move in and invade.
iii. God’s heart is grieved by our unbelief, and our sin.
iv. When we see sin as God does, sin will have a horrid scent to our nostrils as well as it does to God.
v. In the hopeless situation of life, which is spiritual death, leading to physical death, leading to eternal death, there is hope, promise of resurrection for all who will believe Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again.
-Tim A. Blankenship