Summary: Jesus is calling us to believe and live for him beyond the power of reason to believe
The French philosopher Voltaire once said: “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” Voltaire spoke of a form of faith that lives, breathes, and moves beyond the ordinary, to the extraordinary.
In like manner, Dale Carnegie spoke of a form of living that echoes Voltaire’s thoughts on believing beyond the power of reason. Carnegie once declared, “Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.”
These words spoken by earthly men ring of the eternal truth spoken by Jesus Christ when he commanded Lazarus to come out from the grave, and live. These words highlight the kind of living Jesus desires for us all —in the here and now — that emerges from believing beyond the ordinary in his resurrection power. For Christ said, to live is to believe in me; and, to believe in me, is to live.
This morning, we’re going to venture into the Gospel of John and see what Jesus is saying to us about truly living from the wellspring of believing in him. We’re going to hear his words to Mary and Martha in their darkest hour. We’re going to hear his words spoken to Lazarus as he commanded him to live again. And, in like manner, we’re going to hear Jesus Christ speaking to our souls as he encourages us to rise and embrace the extraordinary and faith-filled life he’s calling us to embrace. So with that, let us open our Bibles to the Gospel according to John, Chapter Eleven. Let’s start off our times by reading verses 1-6. READ VV. 1-6.
SOMETIMES JESUS WAITS TO SHOW US SOMETHING MORE EXTRAORDINARY
You know, up until verse six, everything seems, well… copasetic. But, then we read in verse six that Jesus doesn’t dash off to Mary and Martha side — right away. Instead, He waited two days before leaving for the village where the sisters and Lazarus lived.
Let me ask you: aren’t Jesus actions a bit — well, interesting at the least — and maybe somewhat unsettling? I think they were; and I believe this is why….
The Jesus we often want to imagine runs to our aid in our times of need, right when we want him to. I don’t know about you, but I often want God to hasten to my side, answer my prayers in quick fashion, and fill my every desire and need —kinda like Mary and Martha.
You know, our culture has done a great job of training us to live in such a way that demands immediate gratification.
And, even though they didn’t live in an age of immediate gratification, Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to come and heal Lazarus from his sickness, before death had its final say.
You know what though, I don’t blame them — I bet we’d all want the same. What’s interesting though, I think is this: Mary and Martha didn’t live as we do now with all our fancy gadgets that allow two-way communication in the blink of an eye. They didn’t live in a time, like us, when we could hop in our cars and grab a bite to eat at our favorite restaurant, when we don’t like what’s in the fridge.
However, scripture indicates they wanted Jesus to come and fill their pressing want, however noble it was —in quick fashion.
The bible affirms that God answers our prayers in his time, so that his glory will be displayed (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Verse four gives credibility to this notion. 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.”
See, everything that Jesus does is to glorify the Father, and in like manner, the Father loves to glorify his Son. And for his own glory and for our benefit, God often waits in answering our petitions so that he can reveal something more extraordinary than we can envision, and to give us that which we truly need, verses that which we want.
Jesus wanted to show Mary and Martha something spectacular, so that they could live and believe beyond the ordinary, with their brother at their side. Let’s jump down to VV. 17-27
A CALL TO BELIEVE BEYOND THE EXTRAORDINARY
READ VV. 17-27
So, as Jesus enters into Bethany, Martha runs to meet him. She catches up to Jesus — probably out of breath at this moment — and immediately she laments in her anguish: “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I can just hear her heart ripping, with maybe a few undertones of anger or resentment laced within.