Summary: John tells us about Jesus raising Lazarus back to life. What does John want us to know about Jesus from this story?
Video Clip: Princess Bride, “Mostly Dead”
Connect: Today, in American society, we are obsessed with avoiding death.
In the last 10 or fifteen years we have seen unthinkable advances in science and medicine – all of which are designed to makes our lives easier, to make us healthier, to correct diseases that we may have been born predisposed to, and to keep us living longer.
Everything from cloning human embryo’s, to locating and mapping cancer genes, new body imaging technology which can screen out unwanted conditions…
New drugs for the treatment of killer diseases e.g. HIV, growing nerve cells in a lab to heal spinal cord injuries…
Quicker access to special machines for heart attack victims greatly increasing survival rates, and oh yeah, the human genome was mapped 5 years ahead of schedule. By the time my kids are in their 60’s, scientists will be growing new organs for them in petry dishes. Why? All this to make our lives a bit easier, help is live healthier and longer.
Relate: And beyond the stats, it seems like we’re living longer. I mean my mother and my In-laws (my kids Grand parents) are living well into their 60’s and with good diet, exercise and modern medicine may live into their 80’s and 90’s. I just heard of a guy in Spokane who celebrated his 109th B-day. In contrast, My Grand parents – well…not so much! They all died in their 40’s & 50’s. You know why? Because they all worked in the coal mines and ate bacon sandwiches 3 times a day, that’s why!
Who wouldn’t want to prolong their life – experience just a bit more time with loved ones: children, grand children great grand children? I’d give anything for another day with my dad or my sister lost in a car accident.
It’s natural to want to prolong your life, and people are living longer today than ever.
Transition: Now let’s leave the world of 21st century medicine, and go back to the 1st century world where the life expectancy of the average male was in his 20’s to late 30’s, due to the infant mortality rate. Many men did live into their 40’s, and if you were lucky you may live into your 50’s or 60’s, and rarely would someone live beyond that.
Diseases were rampant, clean water wasn’t particularly easy to come by.
Sanitation conditions were not high.
Today we are looking at a story about a man, a friend of Jesus, who wasn’t mostly dead, and he didn’t need a faith healer, he was completely dead for four days and needed the Messiah, the savior to raise him to life.
John includes the story of Lazarus because there’s something about Jesus that he wants to tell us. In fact, John’s Gospel account up until this point has told us much about Jesus.
(If you don’t have a Bible, raise your hands and our ushers will be happy to bring you one. If you don’t own a Bible, please keep this one as our gift to you. – and turn to John Ch. 11)
Explain: The first thing John wants us to know about Jesus is…
1. Their past was fulfilled in the person of Jesus: Jesus himself is the fulfillment of the promises of the OT. Look how John lays this out for us…
• The temple – Jesus fulfilled that and now as his body we are the living temples, and collectively are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
• Ch. 5-6: Jesus feeds the multitude, and declares himself the fulfillment of that OT story – he is the Bread of Life.
• Ch. 7-8: Jesus attends the feast of tabernacles, characterized by a water pouring ritual, and he says that he is the water of life – the living water! Also, the 4 massive torches lit during this feast lit up the whole city of Jerusalem for days. Jesus stands among the symbols and says “I am the light of the world!” They were commemorating when God provided water from the rock in the Exodus, they were memorializing the pillar of fire by night with these gigantic torches that lit up the city.
• Ch’s 9-10 Jesus heals a man born blind, and then tells them that he is the fulfillment of Ez. 34, in which God said he would fire his inept shepherds, and he himself would shepherd his people, through his servant David. Jesus tells them that he is that Good shepherd who has come to let these false shepherds go. Jesus is almost stoned for saying that he and the father are one.
• Lastly, Jesus claims to be equal with God when he states that he has come to fulfill Abraham’s hope and expectation – the Jews say, “you are not yet an old man, and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus’ reply is “I tell you the truth – before Abraham was born – I AM” the phrase ego eimi is the Greek equivalent of what is called the “tetragrammaton” or the word “Yahweh” which means “I AM” the one who is, as opposed to the ones who are not. This causes a riot among these pious Jews who cannot accept a man, no matter how great the signs and miracles done, to be God.