This is sermon for Wednesday evening July 8th, 2009.

JOHN PART 51
The Hope of the Gospel: Resurrection and life.
John 11:17-37 TNIV.

John 11:17-37 TNIV – 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 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. Anyone 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 told him, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Many people think that the heart of this story is the resurrection of Lazarus. Well, it may be what the story is about, but the heart of the story is how Christ, being the resurrection and life, raised a dead man, one who is powerless to change his condition Jesus did this all by the power of His own decision and authority.

That my friends is the Gospel. It is beautifully illustrated in this story as a living illustration. You see, like Lazarus, we are dead in our trespasses and sins. And like Lazarus, we cannot change our condition, we need someone with great authority to do this for us. Jesus, being the resurrection and the life, calls us out of our tomb of sin and self, much like He did with Lazarus; and calls us to everlasting life. What joy is found in this story.

Let’s begin looking into this wonderful story and open up your hearts to receive what the Holy Spirit would say to us.

The scene: Christ’s arrival and the circumstances surrounding the story.

John 11:17-19 TNIV – 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 from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.

Let’s look at the events leading up to the resurrection:

Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days when Jesus arrived. Many people have often wondered why Jesus waited so long until He arrived. Why didn’t He just arrive right before Lazarus died and heal him? Why didn’t He arrive the day of his death or a day later? Why wait for four days? Well, good questions really. There could be a few reasons. According to John MacArthur’s commentary on the book of John: “The Jews believed that the soul hovered around the body for three days after death, hoping to reenter it. If the soul did not enter after three days, then the soul would depart because the body would begin to decompose.” Another reason for waiting for four days could be the fact that this places Lazarus well beyond what anyone might call a “near-death” experience. By waiting this long, the people gathered would be seeing a genuine, undeniable miracle…yet as we will see later, many still refuse to accept Christ.
o This is so much like today. People will hear the Gospel over and over, or hear stories of changes lives by the power of Christ Jesus, yet will still refuse to follow Him.
Bethany was two miles from Jerusalem. On the surface, it would seem that Jesus was putting His life in danger by coming. The Scribes and Pharisees are currently looking to arrest and kill Him, yet He comes, knowing that they cannot do anything to Him that isn’t part of God’s plan.
Many Jews was there to comfort Martha and Mary over their loss. There would be a great number of witnesses to the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus staying away for so long probably came about the time when the greatest number of witnesses would be present. The mourning period in the Jewish culture of the first century was a full month for the women, with the first seven days being the most intense period of mourning. Right in the middle of the intenseness of their mourning, Christ would bring a reason for intense celebration – resurrection!

The Master and Martha.

John 11:20-24 TNIV – 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.”

Word got back to Martha that Jesus was coming, so she went out to meet Him. Now there is no question that Martha loved Jesus; that much is clear. She recognized Him as her Lord and Master. When she approaches Jesus to speak with Him, it is done out of her grief, yet there is faith mixed in: “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

I love how Jesus answers her. You see, as much as Martha, Mary and Lazarus loved Jesus; He loved them so much more than could ever be described. He is not talking to the Jews who would praise Him one minute and then curse and abandon Him the next. Neither is He talking to the Pharisees who never believed in Him – He is talking to someone whose heart is melded with His, who has accepted Jesus as her Messiah, even though I’m sure she didn’t understand what that meant fully. Notice Jesus doesn’t rebuke her with angry words, but a kind, comforting answer: “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha misunderstood Jesus words. She thought they would be words of comfort, when it fact that are literally words of resurrection. Notice her response: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

The response of Jesus: A powerful Gospel claim.

John 11:25-26 TNIV – 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone 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?”

First off, Jesus didn’t say that He can raise the dead and bring life. Neither did He say here that His words were resurrection and life, but that He Himself is the resurrection and life. It is a claim of deity.

o We must realize that salvation is not superstitious. It is not based a few magical words or some philosophical belief. Salvation comes from a person – Jesus Christ.
o He is the resurrection and the life for all who are dead in their trespasses and sins.

“Those who believe in Him will live, even though they die”. What does Jesus mean by this statement? Those who believe in Jesus, physical death would is not the end of them, they will continue to live eternally in the presence of Jesus Christ and the Father.

2 Corinthians 5:8 NKJV – We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Now notice what Jesus says next to Martha: “whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Eternal life cannot be extinguished by physical death. All, both non-believers and believers will die, that is a fact. The difference for the believer, we will never taste the second death, which is ultimately separation from God. For us, death has lost its sting and power. And of course this is best proven through the physical resurrection of the believing saints that will take place when Christ comes again.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57 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.” 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.

After Jesus explained Himself as being the resurrection and the life, He asks Martha if she believes. Notice her response.

Martha’s confession concerning Jesus.

John 11:27 TNIV – “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

I used to be critical of Martha’s answer, but not anymore. I use to call this a non-answer, but really looking at it, she seems to really go above and beyond in answering this question. She gives this absolute strong statement of faith concerning Jesus Christ. By saying this, she is declaring the Divinity of Jesus.

The Master, Mary, and the Mourners.

John 11:28-35 TNIV – 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept.

After Jesus and Martha’s conversation, Martha went to get Mary. Mary gets up and quickly goes to Jesus, with the Mourners coming along, thinking that she is going back into the tomb.
o One quick note, when it comes to our sins, all we can do is feel sorry for ourselves and mourn for our sins. Apart from Christ, there is no forgiveness of sins, and therefore no hope. We are miserable people, surrounded by other miserable people.

Mary falls at Jesus feet and repeats basically the same thing that Martha did. In a sense, both Martha and Mary limited Jesus. Yes they believed in Him and loved Him, but they’re belief in what Jesus could do and His actual ability was as wide as the Grand Canyon. Both of them thought that Jesus needed to be there to heal, and four days later, when He arrived, it was just too late.

We all know the “Jesus wept” verse. But why did Jesus weep? Well, look at what verse 33 says: When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

Jesus weeping had nothing to do with the sorrow of the moment, but the unbelief of the moment. How can I say this? Well, because of the Greek words for “deeply moved in spirit” and “troubled”.

Deeply moved in spirit literally means, “to snort or scold in spirit.” It is a term describing someone becoming aggravated.
• Troubled means “to become agitated, stirred up.”

So perhaps Jesus wasn’t so much angry as He was aggravated at the unbelief and the sorrow of the moment. He is here, hope is not lost, yet they are not looking toward hope, but only death.

o Have any of you ever seen anyone cry in anger? I have. Laura actually a few times when she gets mad will begin to weep, or weep when she gets stressed or agitated. This is what Jesus is doing.

A misunderstanding and unbelief.

John 11:36-37 TNIV – 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

They saw Jesus weeping and thought He was now mourning the loss of His friend. Then they begin saying words of unbelief: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Obviously Jesus could have healed Lazarus, but they didn’t understand God’s will and timing. God wanted to show Christ’s power over death and thereby gave us a living illustration of not only Christ’s power over physical death, but also His power over the deadness we all find ourselves in because of sin.

o Sometimes we don’t understand why we may go through certain things, or why things just don’t make sense. We must remember, we are in God’s hand; He is in control, ours is to trust Him and not live in doubt.

As we close this evening, remember that we all have a miracle to tell like Lazarus. Oh, we may not have physically died and was resurrected, but we were dead in the tomb of our sins, and the resurrection and the life – Jesus Christ – came along and called us out of the tomb of sin into eternal life with Him. Rejoice in what He has done for each of us.

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