Summary: Christians can stink it up just like anyone else. And being around a Christian who is full of pride, anger, and self-righteousness has a pretty bad stink to it. But there is a way to get rid of that smell. There’s a way out of the tomb.
August 10, 2008 – Do We Stink? The story of Lazarus. (Jesus is our Life)
Smell, just one of our five senses; but a very powerful one. Smells can remind us of many things. Think of these smells; fresh baked bread, barbecued beef, apple pie, cut flowers, cut grass, ocean breezes, just bathed babies, perfume, cologne. Or how about these; rotten fish, mould, sewage, sulphur, smoke, or really bad B.O.? Different feelings, different memories. Smells can conjure up all sorts of emotions; different places, different times, people we know, people who are no longer with us. Smells are powerful things. One smell that always gives me a powerful memory is the smell of Ivory shampoo. When I was down in central America on a missionary trip with YWAM, I packed Ivory shampoo with me. Whenever I smell that soap, I can close my eyes and feel like I’m in the river where we swam and bathed in what felt like the middle of the jungle. What about you, what smells are powerful in you mind? (answers?)
Tonight, we’re going to take a look into the Gospel of John, chapter 11, at the time where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This will be the theme story told on the 2nd day of vacation Bible school next weekend. The focus is Jesus is our Life. And through this story, we are going to show how Jesus could raise Lazarus to life from death, and how God can do the same for us. What does this have to do with smells? Let’s read the account, and find out. Turn in your Bible to John 11, and we’re going to go through the passage with some comments along the way…
John 11:1-44 (NIV)
The Death of Lazarus
1Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."
• Lazarus was Jesus’ friend, a very close friend. Mary and Martha were also very close to Christ. We read about these two women quite a bit throughout the gospels. Jesus must have known them quite well, probably spending time eating together at their home, perhaps spending the night at their place. These were people that Jesus liked to hang around with, and as we discussed last week, Jesus wants to be OUR friend too! Isn’t it great to have good friends? But Lazarus is not well, in fact he is very sick, perhaps near death.
4When 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." 5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
• When you get a call or an email or someone comes to you directly with news that one of your closest friends is sick, very sick, what is your reaction? Don’t you want to get up and go to them and be with them as soon as possible? Doesn’t everything else suddenly get pushed aside for the sake of caring for your loved one? What if it’s even closer than a friend, say a parent or child or spouse, does the whole world not suddenly stop so you can focus on caring for that person? So why does Jesus not run to His friend’s side? Why does He stay away? Why doesn’t he heal Lazarus from where He was? After all, when the Centurion came to Jesus in Matt.8, Jesus didn’t have to GO to the servant to heal them. The man had faith that Christ could heal Him with just a word, and it happened, because of the faith of the Centurion. Jesus knew EXACTLY what was going to happen in the next few days; that Jesus himself would be glorified by a great miracle. But everyone, including Lazarus, would have to wait.
• We don’t like to wait do we? We want God to answer our prayers NOW. We want what we want when we want it. We can sound like a kindergarten class that resounds with sounds of, ‘Mine, mine, mine!’ ‘God, give me an answer NOW!’ Patience is what we need. God is patient with us, we need to be patient in waiting for His answers to our prayers.
7Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea."
8"But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?"
• In other words, ‘Jesus, are you nuts?’