Click here to learn more!
The Raising of Lazarus
1. Some ideas concerning the cause of sickness.
(1) The ancients thought that sickness was the result of sin. The Book of Job goes into detail concerning the sickness and suffering of one of God's greatest men. When Job's three friends heard that he was sick they came to comfort him. However, poor comfort they proved to be. Each of them proclaimed three discourses condemning Job. In each of these discourses, the wise men of the East endeavored to prove that Job was sick because he was a sinner. All of this was preposterous, inasmuch as the Bible definitely states that Job was "perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil."
When Satan came on the scene, God said unto him, "Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth?" This commendation of Job, along with God's final statement concerning the friends of Job, that they had not spoken of him the things that were right, settles the fact forever that Job's sickness was not caused by his personal iniquity.
In our Scripture today we read this expression, "He whom Thou lovest is sick." We have no right, therefore, to think that Lazarus was sick because he was sinful. Many of the choicest saints on earth have been physically afflicted. We want to emphasize this, because there are many in our day, as there were in Job's day, who imagine that everybody who is sick is living, somehow or other, out of the will of God. We know that everyone who is out of the will of God is not sick. Many of the wicked enjoy physical health. The Word of God in describing the wicked, gives Asaph's statement, "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Then Asaph cried out, "They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men."
(2) Sickness in its first cause is due to sin. However, it was the sin of Adam which produced the curse, and brought Adam's sons under the blow. We are living in a world which is cursed with thorns and thistles. All nature is subject to sorrow and bondage, because of the fact of sin. Every hot wind, and every blasting frost; every hailstone, and everything else, in nature, that destroys and devastates is the result of sin and its curse.
The thorns and the thistles are all in the world because sin is in the world. This, however, does not mean that everyone who is sick is personally living in sin. Even the redeemed are subject to the effects of Adam's sin and of the sins of others about them, so long as they are in the flesh.
(3) Sickness may be a chastisement. We read that the sick are to call for the elders of the Church that they may be anointed with oil. Then, God says, "The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." In the same chapter, we are told that we should confess our faults one to another, and pray one for another that we may be healed. For this cause we realize that sickness may come as a chastisement from on high. "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth."
Of course, we still cling to the Word of God that the "Prayer of faith shall save the sick." This prayer of faith however, must be God given, and when it is not the will of God to heal us of our physical infirmities, He will give us grace to bear them. Even Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus.
I. THE DETAILS WITH WHICH GOD OBSERVES HIS CHILDREN (John 11:1-2 )
1. A certain man was sick. There were thousands sick around Bethany and Bethpage and Jerusalem, and yet among them all there was a certain man who was sick. God does not deal with the sick in generalities. He is specific. He knows the sickness of the many, but He emphasizes the fact of the sickness of the one.
2. A certain man was sick in Bethany. God knew just where he lived. Knew his house. Knew his environment. Not only that, He knew his name. His name was Lazarus. God knew his sisters; He knew them as Mary and as Martha. God is not unaware of us personally. He knoweth His sheep by name and He leadeth them forth.
When we are sick upon our bed let us not think that God has forgotten us, or that He is unmindful of our pain. He knows it all. He knows everything about us. There is not a word on our tongue, a sigh in our heart, a groaning in our flesh, that He does not know.
3. A certain man was sick in Bethany who was the brother of a valiant and faithful servant of the Lord. John 11:2 tells us that it was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. The intimation is that one who had been so faithful, so considerate, so excessive in the demonstration of her loving care of the Master, was in great sorrow because her brother was sick.
4. A certain man of Bethany whom Jesus loved was sick. John 11:3 stirs our soul. The sisters of Lazarus knew that Jesus loved him and they sent word to Him saying, "He whom Thou lovest is sick." Beloved, let us never again be guilty of that unseemly challenge against our Lord that He does not love us because we suffer. We often suffer because He does love us.
II. THE LORD'S STATEMENT CONCERNING THE SICKNESS OF LAZARUS (John 11:4-6 )
1. "This sickness is not unto death." The fact is that Lazarus did die, and he died very shortly after Christ had spoken. In fact he may have been dead when Christ spoke. However, Jesus definitely said the sickness was not unto death. Death in the Word of God stands for separation of the soul from the body. That actually occurred in the case of Lazarus. Death also stands for eternal separation of the soul from God. We know that Lazarus' sickness was not unto death in death's second significance.
When the Bible says, "The wages of sin is death" it includes physical death to be sure, but it also refers to the second death. That death, where "death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire," which is the second death.
Jesus likewise may have meant that Lazarus' sickness was not unto physical death in the sense that he would not remain physically dead.
2. "This sickness is * * for the glory of God." Perhaps we will now understand better what Christ meant when He said, "This sickness is not unto death." It was not unto death because it was unto life out of death, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. The Lord Jesus Christ permitted Lazarus to die, allowed the great sorrow to come upon the sisters of Lazarus, because God would receive glory and He Himself would be glorified by the resurrection of Lazarus.
3. "Therefore * * He abode two days still in the same place." How illuminating is this expression. He knew Lazarus was sick; knew he was dead or about to die, and yet two days longer He stayed where He was. He did not hurry to Bethany; He purposefully stayed away.
Beloved, when we are in the will of God, following in His footsteps, let us not seek by our prayers and cries, to change the will of God. He is working in our behalf. Has He not said, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose"? If Jesus hears us crying, and yet He does not come, but abides where He is, let us patiently tarry until the day of His Coming.
The disciples were in the midst of the sea, tossing with the waves, for the wind was contrary. All during the night hours they pulled at the oars. Jesus did not come to them, however, until they were in the midst of the sea. Then in the fourth watch of the night, He came walking upon the waves.
III. LAZARUS IS DEAD (John 11:11-15 )
1. A new expression concerning death. When Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead, He said to the disciples "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." How sweet, how soft, how expressive is the word, "sleepeth." One of the hymns we frequently use at funerals is, "Asleep in Jesus." The song tends to soften the sorrow of the bereaved. Death in Christ is a sleep. That is, they do rest from their labors. It is a sleep because it comes at the end of life's day. It is a sleep because it is a time of rest and of deliverance from the toil and the heat of the daily round. We speak, of course, of the dead in Christ.
2. The common expression concerning death. John 11:14 says, "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead." He used the word because they thought that He spoke of taking rest in sleep. Beloved, if we would carry with us the Divine meaning of death as set forth here by the Lord, the death of our loved ones would be an altogether different experience to us. Our Lord Jesus Christ has taken away the sting of death. Death to the believer is an exit, but it is also an entrance. Death is the door to the life Elysian. It is the gateway to the presence of Christ. Paul realized this to so great an extent, that he said he had "a desire to depart, and to be with Christ."
3. The Divine conception of the beneficence of the death of Lazarus. In John 11:15 Christ said, "And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe." There were some reasons why Christ would have been glad to have been there. Had He been there Martha and Mary's tears and prayers could have prevailed upon Him to have healed Lazarus before He died. However, He was glad, not for the sake of Martha and Mary alone, but for the sake of His own disciples, that He was not there, to the intent that they might believe on Him. Through the resurrection of Lazarus they received an enlarged vision of Christ's power over death.
We must remember, also, that the death of Lazarus and his subsequent raising from the dead took place just a short while before our Lord, Himself, traveled the way of death. Christ was glad that Lazarus died so that, through his resurrection, the disciples might not so utterly despair when the Lord Himself died. That they, seeing their Master dead, might also anticipate His power to break the reign of death.
IV. FOUR DAYS DEAD (John 11:17 )
"When Jesus came, He found that he had lain in the grave four days already." We do not mean that Jesus did not already know this. We do mean that His coming to the grave, found a man four days dead. We remember how Christ raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, but she was just dead. The stench of death was not upon her.
The son of the widow of Nain had been dead only long enough to be interred. They were en route to the cemetery, when Christ raised him.
We remember preaching to a group of several hundred boys in Kansas City. We asked them who was the most dead, the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, or Lazarus. One of the most energetic of the boys snapped his fingers for attention, and cried out, "That guy Lazarus, who was stinking." He thought a fellow four days in a grave, would be far more dead than the daughter of Jairus, or even the son of the widow of Nain. Perhaps there are many grown ups who think the same.
Therefore, Jesus tarried the longer, until everybody knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lazarus was dead. It took the same Divine power to raise the daughter of Jairus, and the son of the widow of Nain, as it took to raise Lazarus because all were dead. It takes the same power to give new life to the man who has for many years lived in trespasses and in sins, as it does to give new life to the little child who has but recently come to the years of responsibility.
All are equally sinners, however, all have not sinned equally. The three were alike dead, but the stench of death was more manifest in Lazarus than in the others.
V. THE COMFORTERS WHO CAME TO MARY AND MARTHA (John 11:19-20 )
1. The human comforters. In John 11:18 and John 11:19 we read: "Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother." As Bethany was so close to Jerusalem it was easy for the Jews to come.
We would not at all discredit the comfort which the Jews gave to Martha and Mary. We thank God for the comfort of friends, and for the help and assistance which they bring. We have, however, lived long enough, and moved frequently enough among those who sorrow, to discover that the comfort which comes from men falls far short of the comfort that is needed.
There are very few friends who ever enter into the deeper recesses of the hearts of those who weep. The populace may come to show their sympathy but if you catch them off their guard, you will often find them lighthearted and passing the greetings of the day among themselves. Friends, and flowers, and notes of sympathy, all have their place, but they all fall short
2. The Divine Comforter. John 11:20 says, "Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming." The 19th verse says, "The Jews came." John 11:20 says "Jesus was coming." Oh, beloved! How different it all is when the real comforter comes.
They who go through the valley of the shadow of death without Christ, must be sad indeed. They who enter the shades and shadows of the tomb with Christ at their side, find that His Words are true which He said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." In II Corinthians God is acclaimed, "the God of all comfort." It is He who comforteth us in all our trials, that we may be able to comfort them which are in trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
The student will find something of the method by which Jesus gave comfort to Martha and afterward to Mary in the hour of their travail.
As Martha looked into the face of Christ, she said, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee." Martha had seen Christ work too many miracles to doubt His power to have kept her brother alive. Martha went even further, and said, "Even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee."
Upon this expression of faith, Jesus quickly turned to Martha and said, "Thy brother shall rise again." Martha placed her brother's resurrection far in the distant future, saying, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
It was then that Jesus said unto her, "I am the Resurrection." Let us get this clearly before us. Martha acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ. Martha thought that Jesus was a healer of the sick, because she said, "If Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." Martha, however, did not grasp the fact that there stood right there in her presence He who was "the Resurrection and the Life."
Let us never again think of the resurrection as a great final consummation which will take place through the natural unfolding of events. The resurrection is Christ. It is not an "it," but a living, vitalizing, energizing life-giving Lord.
VI. JESUS WEPT (John 11:35 )
After Christ had spoken He commanded Martha to call Mary. Thus it was that Mary came to the place where Martha had met Him. When she came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet saying unto Him, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." These were the same words that Martha had said. We know therefore, they had talked it over together. Together they had longed for Christ to come.
The Lord said but little to Mary, however, He joined her walking toward the grave, where the body of her brother lay. As He came to the tomb, and saw Mary weeping; (weeping too much to talk), and the Jews also weeping, which came with her; He groaned in spirit and was troubled. Then He said, "Where have ye laid him?" They said unto Him, "Lord, come and see." We now read, "Jesus wept." We have often tried to fathom the meaning of His tears,
1. Did Jesus weep because Lazarus was dead? That is impossible. He knew that Lazarus would be alive in but a few moments.
2. Did Jesus weep because Mary wept, and Martha wept, and the people wept? Did He not likewise know that they would be shouting for joy and praising God, in but a few moments?
3. Jesus wept because He was a sympathetic Christ, and, in the death of Lazarus and in the tears of Mary and Martha and the crowd, He saw the tears of the ages; the tears which Adam's sin had entailed. He saw it all, and He wept. Jesus wept because in the death of Lazarus and in all the anguish and the tears of those about Him, He saw His own passage in death down into hades. He saw all the anguish of His Cross; He saw all the sighs and sobs of His own soul poured out unto death that He might be the Deliverer of those who were dead. When the Jews saw Jesus weeping they said, "Behold how He loved him."
We would enlarge upon the words of the Jews and say, Behold, how He loved us. He loved us enough to go down into death that He might break the chains of death.
VII. LAZARUS COME FORTH (John 11:43-44 )
1. A circumscribed conception of Christ. Martha had said, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." Mary had said the selfsame words. The Jews who came to weep with Mary and Martha also said, "Could not this Man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?"
Jesus heard their mutterings and groaning in Himself, He came to the grave. He groaned because none of them seemed to realize that He was the Resurrection and the Life. He said, "Take ye away the stone." Martha, astonished, answered, "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." With groaning and pity because of their seeming inability to know Him as He was, He said to Martha, "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"
Something in Christ's words and in His mien, strangely moved her, and her watching sister, Mary, and the great crowd about. Without another word, they took the stone from the place where the dead was laid. Then Jesus, lifting up His eyes, to Heaven said, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me."
Christ must have been talking to the Father about all of this before He ever came down to Bethany and the tomb, He went on to say to the Father, "I knew that Thou hearest Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."
He came forth, yet he could not come forth, for he was dead.
He came forth, yet he could not come forth, for he was both dead, and bound hand and foot with graveclothes.
He came forth and yet he could not come forth for he was dead, and bound, and his face was tied with a napkin. He had neither life nor power of locomotion, or of sight, and yet he came forth.
We stand at the grave of untold millions and we say, They cannot come forth, they are dead. Their bodies are decayed; scattered to the four winds of the earth. They have been taken up in vegetation. There is nothing left of their corpses, but some petrified bones, or perhaps nothing at all left to the human eye. They cannot come forth, and yet, "the dead * * shall rise." Thank God that Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.
"In far-off China, a Chinese helper presented an old Chinese man, with a hymnbook and tracts and Gospels. A few months later this same old man, unknown to the missionaries or to the colporteurs, came again to the city, and passing along the street, saw the notice board of the "Happiness Gospel Hall" and entered.
The old man was very earnest and seemed to know much about the Gospels and specially about "The Cross." He had also read in the hymnbook, the hymn:
"I am coming to the Cross;
I am counting all but dross;
I shall full salvation find."
As he talked, he brought out from under his coat, a small bamboo cross, which he had been carrying on his back. Upon the cross, he had written his own name and these words:
"Kneeling before the Cross of my Saviour, I constantly rely, and never depart from Jesus Christ."
And on the other side of the cross he wrote; "I must with the whole heart bear the Lord's Cross; and not fear, though the world heaps much contempt and cursing upon me, for the things of the world are like the wild flowers of the desert."
A colporteur visited his home, and found another man who was bearing his cross in the same way. (If it die "much fruit" is ever the law of the Cross.) But who taught him this old Chinese man who had never been in a church or mission hall, that the things of this world are like the wild flowers of the desert? These are Isaiah's very words (Isaiah 40:6-7 )." "A Missionary."
Sickness, Death, and Resurrection
The resurrection of Christ is the usual message of Easter. However, we must remember that indissolubly linked with the resurrection of our Lord is the resurrection of all of His saints.
It is also well for us to remember that sickness and death are also linked with the resurrection. Sickness and the collapse of the physical man leads to death, and the resurrection is the glorious conquest over the reign of death.
1. The story of death. We are now personifying death. We will imagine "death" as standing with his scythe in his hand, ready to mow down the lives of men.
Whenever some plague rules the hour, or when famine reigns the daily papers picture death as a skeleton specter, gathering in his harvest of falling victims.
Whatever may be said of death it is man's recognized foe. It is spoken of in the Word of God as "the last enemy."
Men live, they build their palaces of hope, they flourish for a season unmindful that they are soon to be cut down, and then, one day, they open their eyes and lo, standing hard by is "death" ready to spoil their dreams of human power and glory; ready to cut them asunder from everything they love and hold as dear.
How solemn is the Word of God. "He lived" and "he died." Yet these words have been written over every man who ever has been born, with the exception of Enoch and Elijah.
The earth is one great grave yard. Its soil has ever been enriched by the decaying bodies of the dead.
The greatest dreams of men have never dared to entertain the hope of staying the hand of death. Man has tamed all manner of beasts and of birds, man has builded up great enterprises; man has wrought great deeds of valor, man has invented wonderful machinisms, man has conquered earth and sea and air, but man has never vanquished death. "In Adam all die," is still the accepted code of the living.
2. The vision of Christ and His victory over death. Where man has never dared to make battle, the Son of Man, alone, entered, and grappled with the monster who is man's greatest and last enemy. Stealthily the deathless Son of God pressed on His way to Calvary. He voluntarily gave up His life, He purposely yielded up His spirit, bowed His head and died, that He might conquer death.
Jesus Christ not only died, but they laid His body in a sealed tomb. He Himself descended in hell. He went down where death reigned and where it holds its ghoul-like sway. He entered without fear, met sin on the Cross, broke its reign; met death and hell in its own realm, and vanquished them both.
Here is the graphic way in which the Book of books describes the Risen Christ. John, on the Isle called Patmos, received visions of coming events. The Lord said to John, "Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
Bless God. Christ went down to hell, and came back with its keys in His hand. Now we can cry, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is Thy victory?"
I. NEW IDEAS OF SICKNESS (John 11:1 )
1. A good man was sick. Are the good ever sick? The Bible carefully states that a certain man was sick. God would not leave us in doubt as to who he was. It was none other than Lazarus. That Lazarus was a good man, none of us doubt. He was a believer, a disciple of our Lord, and a follower who delighted in having the Master in his home.
What is our conclusion? Even this, that sickness is no sign of God's displeasure.
2. A man beloved of God was sick. Twice we read that Christ loved Lazarus. In John 11:3 , "He whom Thou lovest is sick." In John 11:5 , "Now Jesus loved * * Lazarus."
We press our point further. Not only the good, but the, "beloved of the Lord" may be sick. Sickness then, is not always, and, probably, is seldom a matter of Divine chastisement. The Scriptures do speak of some who failed to discern the Lord's body in "the breaking of bread," and says, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
However, sickness is usually caused by natural sequences. In the last analysis sickness is from sin, but not necessarily from the sin of the one who is sick. We are living in a world under the curse. The ravages of sin are everywhere. And the best of saints are partakers of that curse in its present effects.
3. A man sick to the glory of God. In John 11:4 Christ said, "This sickness is * * for the glory of God." We stand on the circumference of a marvelous thought. God can cause the wreckage of sin, and even the reign of death to praise Him.
Would that we might be able to see in many of our own sorrows the Lord working out for Himself, and incidentally for us, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Had Martha and Mary known that God was working for His glory and for theirs, they might have sung where they wept.
II. THE DEATH OF A SAINT (John 11:14 )
1. Left to die alone. John 11:6 is, at first sight, a verse of mystery. It reads, "When He had heard * * that he (Lazarus) was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was."
We shudder! Christ knowing the need of Martha and Mary, and the approaching death of Lazarus, purposefully delayed going to the rescue. In this act, He left Lazarus to die alone, and Martha and Mary to weep alone.
Have we ever felt that we were forsaken? The disciples so felt when they found themselves in the midst of the sea, tossed helplessly and madly about by the storm.
2. Christ to the rescue. They thought the Master had come too late, for Lazarus was four days dead. However, the Lord is never too late. Too late for our circumscribed vision, it may be, but never too late for our best good.
It was the fourth watch of the night when Christ came to the storm-tossed boat; it was the fourth day dead when He came to the sepulcher of Lazarus. In either case had the Lord come sooner He could not have manifested His glory, and revealed His power and purposes as He desired so to do. There is, in each of the mentioned events, a far-reaching revelation of God's will toward us, neither of which could have been made potent had the Lord followed natural instincts and come earlier.
3. What is death? Concerning Lazarus it was thus described: "Lazarus sleepeth." The Bible speaks of the dead as "those who sleep in Jesus." Sleep does not mean cessation of being, or of sense; it means "they do rest from their labors."
To die is to "be with Christ" which is far better. To die is to be taken away from the strife and the sighs which mark our earth life. To die is to be "at Home" with the Lord.
III. THE QUICKENING OF FAITH (John 11:15-42 )
1. Faith quickened in the disciples (John 11:15 ). When Jesus said, "Lazarus is dead," He told the disciples that He was glad for their sakes, that He was not there, "To the intent," said He, "that ye may believe."
Thus the raising of Lazarus, while bringing, for the while, great sorrow to the home of Martha and Mary; brought also a lasting, strengthening of faith to the Twelve. As Lazarus came forth from the tomb they knew that Christ was, indeed, the very Son of God.
2. Faith quickened in Martha, and Mary (John 11:40 ). To the two sisters, and to Martha, in particular, Christ spoke saying, "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Already Mary had often sat at Jesus' feet and had heard His word. Now she was to see in Him more, perhaps, than she had ever seen. With Lazarus raised, her faith would take on a far wider sweep, both as to Christ's Person and power.
3. Faith was quickened in many of the watching Jews (John 11:45 ). The Jews who had come to weep with Martha and Mary, were, in part, unbelievers. Some of them, no doubt, had never stood with the sisters of Lazarus in their faith in Christ. Now, as they saw Christ raise Lazarus, we read, "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him."
We begin to see the far-reaching benefaction of the death of Lazarus. This threefold quickening of faith could not have come in any other way.
Time and again, no doubt, the Lord permits this and that to happen in the lives of saints, that they, too, may have their faith strengthened. Of one thing we are certain, for every test and trial which the Lord permits us to enter, there may be found, somewhere, a blessing from above.
IV. THE INSTRUCTING CHRIST (John 11:23 )
Christ used the resurrection of Lazarus as an opportunity, not only of quickening the faith, but also of enlightening the mind. Let us observe three things that He taught as a result of this sad bereavement in the home at Bethany.
1. He taught concerning the resurrection (John 11:23 ). Perhaps the three in Bethany were in such seeming health and in such vigor of youth, that they had seldom thought much of the future. They knew something of the resurrection in a general way, for Martha had said, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." The resurrection had a place, but not a vital place with Martha. It was a doctrine which was accepted by the Pharisees, as well as by Mary and Martha, but there was something about the resurrection that they knew not.
2. He taught that He was, Himself, the resurrection (John 11:25 ). Christ brought the resurrection much nearer home than a far-off happening of which they knew but little. He said, "I am the Resurrection, and the Life."
Little did Martha know that the "Resurrection" was actually standing at her side. Little did Martha know that, at Christ's voice all of the dead would some day come forth.
As we stand at the grave of some dear one, do we realize that Christ is the Resurrection? The truth is that in the New Man Christ is all in all. Christianity remains forever not a theory, or a system of fables, that would survive the One who taught them. Christianity is Christ. It is not a religion, but a Person. With Christ dead, all would be gone.
3. He taught that He was the Rapture of saints (John 11:26 ). We all believe that the Lord will descend from Heaven and that the dead in Christ shall rise, and, together with the living, be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. However, do we believe that Christ is this Rapture, just as He is the Resurrection? What He taught was that there is no Rapture apart from Him. It is His voice that shall call out the dead, and that shall cause those who are living not to die. Thus Christ said, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die."
V. THE SYMPATHETIC CHRIST (John 11:35 )
We now come to the shortest verse in the Bible: "Jesus wept." There is much hid away in the depths of these two simple words. Many have wept during the ages. In fact all of the human race have wept again and again. Why, then, do these words have so much import? It is because they speak of the One who is inherently all joy. It is because, to Christ and to the realms from which Christ came to earth and to which we yet shall go, there is no such thing as weeping. Let us then weigh deeply the words, "Jesus wept."
1. Christ groaned (John 11:32-33 ). As the Lord approached the grave of Lazarus He groaned in spirit. He groaned because the people groaned. Their grief was His grief. In this we see how perfectly Christ entered into every sorrow that was ours. He was indeed the Son of Man because He so perfectly aligned Himself with the things which concerned man. No matter what befell others, it befell Him. As it is written: "The reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon Me."
2. Christ was troubled (John 11:33 ). He who, afterward, said unto us, "Let not your heart be troubled," was Himself troubled. Some one may attempt to say, "Physician, heal Thyself." However, that would be shallow indeed. Had He healed Himself, we could not have been healed. In the words, "Let not your heart be troubled," is hid away all the marvelous depths of the atonement. He was troubled that we might not be troubled. Our cares He takes, He bears, that we may forevermore be trouble free.
3. Christ wept (John 11:35 ). This is climactic. Tears are troubles and groanings in their surge and overflow. Why did Jesus weep? He knew that Lazarus would soon be restored to his own. He knew that Martha, and Mary, and the Jews who wept would soon be overjoyed. Why did He weep? It was because He stood face to face with the ravages of sin and death. In their tears He saw ours. He saw the whole of sin's agony both now, and hereafter no marvel that He wept. As we see those tears let us assure ourselves that our God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
VI. THE ALL-POWERFUL CHRIST (John 11:43 )
1. An unheard of request (John 11:39 ). When the Lord Jesus said, "Take ye away the stone," Martha quickly asserted herself, saying, "By this time he stinketh." Martha sought to stay the Lord thinking, perhaps, that He merely wanted to look upon him whom He loved.
There is another unheard of request in the Bible. The Jews went to Pilate and asked him to appoint a guard to watch over the sepulcher of our Lord. Whoever heard of a dead man rising; or of a dead man having a guard to keep him dead. Of how little avail were Pilate's soldiers; of how little avail was Martha's fear, or the fact that Lazarus had been dead four days. Christ is an all-powerful Christ, and He has power over death and hell.
2. An assuring assertion (John 11:40 ). The Lord Jesus calmed Martha's fear by reminding her of His words: "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"
How often do we miss God's best by our lack of faith! We read of Nazareth that Christ could do no mighty works there because of their unbelief. So it always is.
Has not the Lord said, "According to your faith be it unto you?" What we believe, He does. It was by faith that the ancients of old wrought miracles, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, etc.
3. An authoritative command (John 11:43 ). We delight to picture Christ as He stood before the tomb and cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." The Lord spoke with assurance. He had already talked to the Father about this very thing, and He said before the crowd, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me."
He spoke without hesitancy. He knew that Lazarus would come forth. There were no question marks in His faith.
VII. THE RESURRECTION (John 11:44 )
1. The dead came forth. Lazarus couldn't come forth, even though he had been alive. No live man can walk out of a tomb bound hand and foot with grave clothes, be he a gladiator, those bands would hold him fast.
However, with God all things are possible. The man with a withered hand could not stretch it forth, but he did stretch forth his hand. The sick of the palsy could neither take up his bed nor walk, but he did both. The Children of Israel could not walk over the Jordan on dry land, but they did. Lazarus could not come forth, bound hand and foot, however, he came forth.
The difficulty with men is that they want to humanize God, and place His activities in the realm of man's power. "When we realize that Jesus Christ is God and that God was in Christ, we do not need to put forth any endeavor to do away with the miraculous. It needs no explaining; it needs only to be believed.
2. The loosing. As Lazarus stood before Christ, bound hand and foot, the Lord said, "Loose him." In the resurrection there will be no stench of the tomb and no marks of death left upon raised saints. They will come forth loosed from the bands of death.
In regeneration, which is a resurrection out of the old life, there is no stench of the tomb left. The Lord Jesus commands every believer to put off the old life, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts and to go forth robed in the new life, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.
3. Let him go. The saints, in resurrection, having been loosed from the chains of death will go forth to serve the Lord.
The saints who are born again and who have been loosed from sin's power and dominion should also go forth to serve the Lord. We are saved to serve.
RESURRECTION, FAITH IN
"Jesus is not dead." These words were inscribed on a banner displayed at a heathen funeral in China on Easter Sunday. The funeral was that of Sung Chisojen, a prominent Chinese gentleman, whose assassination shocked all China. The great procession filled many streets, and numerous and gorgeous banners were displayed. The most remarkable of all, however, was the one that declared belief in the risen Jesus of Nazareth. It may be that these heathen mourners were not wholly conscious of all the words implied, but it is a significant fact that they bore this testimony to their faith, or at least to their hope, that death does not end all, and that Jesus is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
Missionary Review of the World.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on John 11". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany