Summary: God’s love for us.
Certainty in Uncertain Times
January 7, 2007
On Wednesday, our family drove home from Deb’s parents house in Canada where we spent 5 days playing in the snow and eating great food.
On our way through Spokane, I noticed a sign -"Number of Traffic deaths this year" was the heading. And underneath the heading were two zeroes - double zeroes.
Number of traffic deaths - number of people killed in Spokane.
As they were going about their day
driving to work
driving from work
running an errand
driving to visit a friend
going for a Sunday afternoon drive
Number of Traffic deaths in year 2007
The double zeroes caught my attention with the new year just 3 days old -
No body had yet been killed in an auto accident.
But the sign - having this sign erected on the side of the road was an indication that there would be lives lost and double digit lives lost on the roads of Spokane in 2007.
3 days earlier, I had wished my in-laws a "Happy and Healthy New Year."
3 days earlier, the world celebrated making it through another year and hoping to do so again in 2007.
But this sign.
This sign indicated and forcasted that
hurt would visit countless lives in year 2007.
On this first Sunday in the New Year-
I want to talk about:
Why? Because each of us will experience some sort of this, some degree, some measure of these in 2007.
Though we raised glasses and gave a toast for a safe and healthy New Year.
The reality of life.
The reality of lives is that we can not inoculate ourselves from experiencing pain, hurt, or loss.
As Christ followers though.
As people who live each day trusting in Jesus - there are some certainties that we are ours during such uncertain times.
Some assurances as Jesus followers that never disappear even when pain comes close.
There is a larger context that we can place our lives - a context that can be a place
of strength even when tragedy draws near.
Our text for today is John 11. It is the story of Lazarus, a man who dies seemingly prematurely.
Despite his sisters calling out for Jesus.
Despite their prayers - he dies.
These Jesus following people, like you and me, experienced loss, tragedy and pain.
What I’m going to do is read through the passage.
Do a little teaching on the passage and then make some personal applications.
There are 3 main audiences in John 11.
In each of the 3 sections, there is an audience, a primary listening group to whom Jesus is speaking.
In the first section, vs. 1-16, Jesus is primarily speaking to his disciples.
In the second section, vs. 17-37, Jesus is primarily speaking to Mary and Martha.
In the third section, vs. 38-44, Jesus speaks to Lazarus for the benefit of everyone.
Section 1 - to the disciples
Section 2 - to Mary and Martha
Section 3 - to Lazarus but for the benefit of everyone.
Though he has 3 different audiences and though there are 3 different settings in which he speaks, Jesus’ message is the same.
He speaks about 2 matters
1st - vs. 4, 40 - Lazarus’ death, sickness will be for God’s glory.
2nd - vs. 15, 25-26, 42 - Jesus will go to see Lazarus not primarily to heal him, but instead so that his audiences will come to believe in him.
Again the theme in each of these sections even though there are 3 different audiences in 3 changing locations is
1st - Lazarus’ death will be for God’s glory.
2nd - Jesus heals Lazarus so that others will believe.
This story is not about death, pain, hurt or loss primarily, but about how God uses such times to bring glory to himself and others to believe in him. Could it not be, that though we experience deep pain at the tragedy, that God can redeem and use such times to advance His Kingdom?
Could not you agree that often in such times, in times of pain, though God seems at first distant, a result of going through these experiences is a closer walk with God? When Jesus chooses to enter into this desperate situation.
When Jesus journeys to a grieving family, He does so for 2 reasons.
1. To bring glory to God.
2. To bring people to believe in Him. These are Jesus’ reasons. His motives in visiting Lazarus
But they weren’t the primary motives of the audiences. They wanted Lazarus healed.
They wanted God to spare them from experiencing this pain, this sickness and eventually Lazarus’ death.