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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 11

Distance and time should not inhibit the Lord from helping His friends, right? In at least one other miracle, Jesus simply spoke words and kept a centurion’s son from dying (see John 4:46-53). He actually sent the centurion away (rather than agreeing to his request to “come down before my child dies”) with the short command, “Go and your son will live.”  On his way home, the centurion is told that his son is fine and he is convinced that the exact time Jesus spoke those words, his son was healed.  And he and his whole household believed (v. 53).

Why didn’t Jesus simply speak a word when He heard that Lazarus was sick? He didn’t have to go there to heal him. And when He learned that Lazarus had died, why didn’t the Lord simply think Lazarus’ life back into him?

He had the power over sickness and death. Why didn’t He use it? Let’s look at our text one more time ….

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Martha’s statement, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” was truer than she probably realized.  The text seems to indicate that Jesus had to refrain from rushing to Lazarus’ side, for His compassion would have virtually forced Him to keep His friend Lazarus from dying.  Although this is a bit of speculation, I imagine that Martha’s words might well have dug into Jesus’ soul — “Lord, if you had been here . . .”  But there was a deeper purpose that needed to be fulfilled.

Martha doesn’t just say to the Lord, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  She adds, “. . . even now God will give you whatever you ask.” (v. 22).  It sounds like she is saying, “You didn’t come when we summoned you.   Could you at least now ask God to raise my brother?”

Jesus doesn’t apologize to Martha or make excuses why He didn’t come when summoned.  He makes a strange declaration:  “Your brother will rise again.” (v. 23).  I guess discussing eschatology at a funeral makes sense, but it probably wasn’t what Martha wanted to hear.  Martha gives the right response when she says, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (v. 24).  But Martha’s heart was stuck in the now!

My heart gets stuck in the now.  How about yours?  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2017 in catastrophe

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 10

In our next section, we learn a lot from the metrics of the situation. Let’s look at our passage . . .

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

We learn that Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem. So distance was not a problem. Jesus was not geographically prevented from walking to His friend’s bed of sickness and intervening. Walking two miles would take less than half an hour.  Rushing or running to the scene would have taken much less!

We also learn about time. When He arrived, Jesus learned that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days! Four days. Four days of mourning. Four days of thinking, “If only the Lord had come . . .”

The sisters loved their brother and don’t understand why Jesus did not rush to their aid. Martha goes out to meet the Lord and says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (v. 21).

She was certain that Jesus’ physical presence would have averted this tragedy, this ultimate disaster humans experience — death. She was right — and she was wrong. (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2017 in death

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 9

A friend has died. A beloved friend has been allowed to die by the Lord of glory. Now He decides it is time to go and “wake him up.” Let’s look at these verses one more time …

6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Emotionally, this passage is rich, for we see what made Jesus “glad.” He says to His disciples, “for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” (v. 15). At whatever cost to us, and at whatever cost to Him, Jesus makes decisions that are intended to lead us into a deeper faith. (Later we will see Jesus’ sadness shown as He stands at Lazarus’ tomb).

The disciple Thomas (not the betrayer) instructs the other disciples about this suicide mission: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (v. 16). It seems obvious what Thomas thought would happen. Maybe Lazarus will get resurrected, but Jesus and His followers will get executed!  But life, not death, is on Jesus’ agenda today, as the disciples will soon see.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in death

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 8

A road trip to Judea! A place where one might get stoned to death! But Jesus says one must work while it is day.

Jesus explains to the disciples why He is going to see Lazarus — and the disciples don’t understand. Let’s read our text again . . .

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, 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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

I love the simplicity and unembellished account here. Jesus says Lazarus has fallen asleep. The disciples respond, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better” (v. 12). They don’t follow the Lord’s euphemism. And John the gospel writer records their misunderstanding.

Jesus then tells them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” (v. 14). Jesus’ use of a euphemism didn’t work. A euphemism is an attempt to communicate bad news in a delicate, less painful way. Now Jesus has to announce Lazarus’ death.

What Jesus says next is astounding! “. . . and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” (v. 15)

Jesus is “glad” He was not there to rescue Lazarus from death?! That made Him happy? Yes! He declares, “so that you may believe” (v. 15).

Belief is a central focus of the fourth gospel. Belief is far more than mere opinion. Belief is life-altering, paradigm-shifting, soul-forming stuff. And there was something much more important than sparing Lazarus from death and his sisters from making funeral arrangements.

But now it was time to go.

We have a Savior who makes decisions. Decisions that sometimes don’t make sense to us. And all that’s left for us to do is . . . believe. (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2017 in John 11

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 7

Let’s summarize what we have seen thus far. Jesus’ good friends are in crisis. Their brother is dying and Jesus purposely does not come to their rescue. There seems to be no other conclusion one can come to other than Jesus stayed away to give Lazarus time to die!

He then decides to go to Judea, a dangerous place, to get involved in the situation. Let’s read a bit further in John 11 . . .

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, 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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” 

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Fully aware of the danger in Judea, Jesus tells His disciples why He is going there: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (v. 11). Again, there was no doubt that Lazarus was Jesus’ “friend.”

Jesus uses a figure of speech (called a euphemism) to describe Lazarus’ condition — he has “fallen asleep.” Jesus knew that Lazarus had died. But to the Lord of glory, this was nothing more than a nap! And Jesus was going to wake Lazarus up from his “nap”!

The worst thing that could ever happen to a person (death), Jesus describes as a nap (sleep). What power the Lord had!  And still has. (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2017 in John 11

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 6

My crisis does not establish, does not create, His agenda. We have seen that Mary and Martha and Lazarus have a real need: Lazarus is sick. Seriously ill. And they need Jesus to come and heal him.

But Jesus doesn’t do what they want Him to. He stays where He was two more days (v. 6). Let’s notice what happens next . . .

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, 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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

After those “two more days” Jesus says, “Let’s go back to Judea.” (v. 7). The disciples remember this was where the Jews tried to stone Jesus. So this action makes no sense (to them).

Jesus’ response seems odd: “Are there not twelve hours of daylight?” He then talks about how people don’t stumble in the daylight, but at night when they have no light.

Whatever does He mean? At the least, He is indicating that, regardless of the risk, Jesus must do the works of the Father while it is day.

But what work is He going to Judea to do? He is going to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead, a death He facilitated by not going to Lazarus’ rescue!  As we will see, resurrection is better than rescue (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2017 in John 11

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 5

Mary and Martha are in crisis. They desperately want Jesus to come and heal their brother Lazarus. But He doesn’t come. He stays two more days where He was and He makes a two-fold proclamation that (1) Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death, and (2) that his crisis is for God’s glory. Let’s read over this portion of John 11 one more time …

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, 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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

Love is a prominent theme in this crisis.  The sisters summon Jesus with the words, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (v. 3).  When Jesus stays where He was, the text tells us “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus.” (v. 5).  Jesus’ inaction did not flow from His lack of love for these three.

In our next post we will see that Jesus decides to go to this family.  But the challenge this morning is this:  My crisis does not establish His agenda.  How the Lord Jesus will meet my needs and come to my aid lies in His sovereign will.  I can ask for, but I cannot demand, His response to my need.  But I can learn to trust Him.  (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2017 in crisis

 

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