Summary: Jesus’ encounter at a grave had grave consequences!
John 11: 1-21; 28-44
None of us like to be grouped. But I really feel impressed that this story presents us a picture of the three types or groups of people who sit in services like this. All three types are here.
1. Think it is too late.
21“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Too many of us believe that Jesus is too late. The Jews believed that the soul left the body after 3 days. Some of us think that things would be different if Jesus would have gotten to us before our soul was lost. If he would had of been here before the hurt, the pain, the break up, slept with, divorce, the abuse then I could be whole and experience life. Jesus you are just too late. If you had of been here. The key word is if! You could have used me if. I could have fulfilled my destiny if. I could have helped them if. It could have been different if. I could have made it if. I could have lived it if. You are too far gone. You are unreachable. God could get you out of your habit, your addiction, your hurt, your brokenness but you are convinced it is just too late. Surely He can’t reach you. You are sure that nothing is going to change. It will always be this way because it is too late. I will just learn to live with this situation, this temptation. You have given up hope.
But I came to tell you that Jesus knows all about what caused your if. He can go beyond your if today. All the reasons you have been giving as to why you can’t live are going to be erased today. I believe Jesus is going to walk into this place this weekend and tell you this is your day. Because He is never early but He is never late. This is your time. He is here to do what only He can do, the impossible, the unthinkable. If you will get past your if there will be grave consequences.
2. Immune to His presence but not His voice.
Now Lazarus is dead. The funeral is over. The flowers have been placed. The obituary has been placed in the local newspaper. The family is left to mourn. It is over. Then Jesus shows up. This is Jesus the living Son of God. This is Jesus full of power, anointed by the Holy Ghost. This is the miracle worker that has already interrupted 2 funerals and brought the dead bodies back to life. Now he arrives 4 days after Lazarus has died. He asks to be taken to where Lazarus is buried. When he arrives he has the men remove the stone. But notice something. Even though Jesus is there. Even though He is all powerful. Even though He is the one who has said about himself I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE. Even though Jesus is on the scene and his presence is in this place nothing happens until he calls Lazarus by name. His presence changed nothing but his word changed everything. He didn’t respond to Jesus’ presence he responded to Jesus’ voice.
I am convinced that many of us have grown accustom to his presence. You have experienced his presence but you are still dead. We have become immune to the power of his presence. We have set through conference after conference. We have set through one service after another. We have felt the goose bumps as his presence fills the place. But too often we usher his presence in through prayer and praise but we walk out unchanged and unmoved because we “know” his presence. But I have news for you tonight. You may be able to ignore his presence but like Lazarus you cannot ignore his voice when he calls you by name.
Don’t misunderstand me. I love his presence but the reality is that you don’t need his presence tonight. You need to hear his voice. The Centurion understood this and told Jesus “I don’t need you to come to my house just send your word”. The Psalmist tells us that He sent His word and healed our disease. It is not his presence that doesn’t return void it is his word. It is not his presence that we live on. It is every word that proceeds out of his mouth.
His Word produces His presence in our life!
Even Jesus’ own storm wasn’t stilled until he spoke. Some of you have a storm in your life and you have been hoping that His presence would solve it. What you need is his voice.