Well, I’m back from vacation. Here is the sermon for Wednesday, July 1st, 2009.

JOHN PART 50
For the glory of Christ.
John 11:1-16.

John 11:1-16 TNIV – 1 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? Those who walk in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when people walk 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.”

Jesus was all about bringing the Father glory on earth. Everything He did and said was for the express purpose of bringing the Father glory. But Jesus also received glory as well. He would be glorified through certain things in the Gospel. One of those is actually found here in the story of Lazarus, a very close personal friend of Jesus. Let’s get started in our study tonight.

Lazarus is sick.

John 11:1-2 TNIV – 1 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.)

This narrative starts with the fact that Lazarus was sick. We don’t know much about Lazarus, though we will see that the Lord had a great love for him, so there was a relationship. He is the brother of Mary and Martha. We know Mary as the one who would set at the feet of Jesus while Martha was the one who served Jesus and the disciples and made sure they were fed.

In verse two, it is revealed that Mary was the one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. This event hasn’t happened yet, it would happen after the resurrection of Lazarus, in John 12.

We do not have any clues as to what Lazarus sickness was, but it was severe enough that he would later die from it.

The meaning of Lazarus’s name is quite significant. It means, “God is my help.” As we will see in a further study of Lazarus, even after his death, God would be his help.

The sisters send word to Jesus.

John 11:3-6 TNIV – 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.

Mary and Martha send word to Jesus, “the one you love is sick.” The word love here in Greek is phileo, which means, “brotherly, friendly love.” This is a love based on relationship, they have become friends, and Mary and Martha was appealing to Christ to come to heal Lazarus based their friendship.

Jesus hearing this declared, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” He is not saying that Lazarus will not die; He is saying that the end result would not be His death.

Now one important thing I want to apply here before we go further in out text. All believers will die, some of old age, some in sickness, some in unfortunate circumstances; we all have one thing in common, and that is death.

Hebrews 9:27 TNIV – People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

Ultimately for the believer, like Lazarus, death will not be the end of us. Lazarus was physically resurrected in this story, but later he died and one day he will be resurrected again. We will also be resurrected. Our end is not death, but resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 TNIV – 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.”

Now let’s get back to our text. How will Jesus be glorified through the sickness of Lazarus? Well, yes He will be glorified by the resurrection, but there is one thing that we must remember, almost every time in the Gospels that it speaks of Jesus being glorified it is talking about either His death, resurrection, ascension, or sometimes all three. I believe here it is talking about Christ’s death.

Why do I feel this way? Well the context helps. You see, after the resurrection of Lazarus in verse 45 it states that many of the Jews who saw the event, “put their faith in Him.” Then the Pharisees had a meeting about it with the chief priests and the Sanhedrin, talking about Jesus dying. Verse 53 it quite telling, I believe.

John 11:53 TNIV – So from that day on they plotted to take His life.

Jesus was ultimately glorified by the resurrection of Lazarus in the fact that it lead to His glorification on the cross.

Notice what verse 5 states: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Here the word love is not phileo, based on relationship, but agapao, which is the unconditional type of love.
I feel this can be rather significant. You see, Martha and Mary will question Jesus lateness in coming and have doubts, but Jesus’ love for them is not based on their trust in Him, though He longs for their trust; His love for them is based on His own choosing to love them, with no conditions and restrictions.

This is how God chooses to love us believers. He loves us because He is love. He chooses to love us based on no restrictions and no conditions.

Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick and instead of leaving to be with him, he stays there for two more days. Jesus was not in a hurry. He would move at the proper, appointed time of the Father.

The cautious disciples.

John 11:7-16 TNIV – 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? Those who walk in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when people walk 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.”

Jesus now says that they all should go back to Judea. God’s time had come, and Jesus knew of all the death threats of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, but that didn’t sway Him. He was being obedient to the timing of His Father.

God’s timing is always perfect, whether guiding His Son through His ministry here on earth, or in guiding us today and answering our prayers.

Notice the response of His disciples: “”But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” This response is one of fear. They knew the anger of the Jews and the Jewish leaders toward Jesus. Here they had been seemingly successful in ministry, many Jews believing in Jesus, and now He wants to go back where He would not be received.

Notice Jesus answer: 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when people walk at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” The 12 hours of daylight symbolize how much time Jesus has on this earth to fulfill His mission. He must do His work, while the Father has given Him time to do it. You see, the disciples were fearful of what the Jews and Jewish leaders might do; they were not looking at this from the Sovereignty of God perspective. Jesus on the other hand was looking at God’s Sovereign will. He chose to obey God’s Sovereign will for Him over the anger or the applause of men. As long as He walks in the light of God’s will, He will not stumble, but if He were to choose to stay in this safe place, it would be like walking in the dark.

While sometimes we may not understand certain things about God’s will, when Scripture is clear about something, we must follow Christ’s example of obedience. We must choose to obey the will of God. Know matter what happens, we are walking in the light of His Sovereign glory, so we will not stumble. But if we choose to walk outside of His will and for our own pleasure and comfort, it will be like us walking in the dark with no light, we are not guaranteed to be kept from stumbling and falling.

For sake of time, let’s skip on down to Jesus explaining the death of Lazarus: “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.” Jesus finally had to tell the disciples plainly that Lazarus was dead. There was a reason that Lazarus died, it was not by accident. His death would bring the Father glory, by Christ raising Him, it would also bring the Son glory, by setting in motion their plan to crucify Him, but there was another reason for his death: That they might believe in Christ Jesus.

Let’s end by looking at the response of Thomas: “16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” There are many ways of looking at this, but I feel we see the courage of Thomas. The one who would later doubt Jesus, seems to be willing to die for him. Of all the disciples, in this one instance, Thomas seems to be giving the proper response.

What can we learn from Thomas? We must love the Lord enough to obey, no matter the outcome. Even if it means for us to lay down our lives and die if necessary.

Next week we will continue in the story of Lazarus. The purpose of this story is to bring glory to Christ. In the same way, the purpose of the story of our lives is to bring glory to Christ as well. We must ask ourselves: Are we willing to be like Christ and be obedient to the Sovereign will of God, no matter what it cost us? Are we willing to go into difficult places to share the Gospel, knowing that probably we will be hated and despised? This is something for us to consider in our walk with Christ.

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