Summary: Big idea: Even though we might not understand the pain we are in, we can trust in God, in His love, and in His ultimate delivery. This is a verse-by-verse exposition through John 11 three weeks after the Asian Tsunami to help people wrestle with the issue

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1) {Introduction}

If you have seen the news, you would recognize this man and his family [show picture]. A couple of days ago, Jimmie Wallet went out for ice cream, and when he got back, his wife and three of his four daughters were gone. They were killed in a mudslide.

You also have seen the news. Three weeks ago, the Asian tsunami wiped out people from 11 countries. The death toll now is exceeding 150,000. When the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew over a remote of Indonesia, still unreachable by the rescuers at the time, he was shaken by what he saw, "I must admit, I have never seen such utter destruction, mile after mile, "And you wonder, where are the people, what happened to them?”[i]

Two days after the powerful tsunami, the Wall Street Journal printed the following: “...thousands people killed by the tidal wave, so far. Who are they? What are their names? How did they love and hate? Where was God when this happened? "God saved me, but why?" a nine-year old boy named Subhani asked a reporter. He had just watched his mother and elder sister drown in front of him as he looked on, helpless; six months ago, the little boy had lost his father...”[ii]

Where is God in the midst of all this? We scream out this question in the last few weeks. As we continue our study through the book of John in chapter 11, let’s see if there is any answer according to God’s Word.

Let’s pray...

2) {Verse-by-verse exposition}

Chapter 11 started out with the family of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, the same family mentioned in the book of Luke…

Now 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.

Perhaps the readers of John may have known Mary, as you can see how he wrote about her. If you remember the sermon last week, at the end of Chapter 10 the religious leaders were about to stone Jesus for claiming equality with God. So Jesus withdrew to across the Jordan River, and He was no longer around the region where Lazarus lived. [Show map]

3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

Notice their pious prayer… 1) expressed their faith (they believed that Jesus is capable to do something with the sickness); 2) rooted in His love for them[iii] (and not “Lord, the one who love you is sick”); and 3) submitted to His mercy (they just presented their situation to Him, without any specific demand for Him to do something).

Many of us assume that if we pray a “right prayer”, from a “righteous life”, with a “right attitude”; then we should get what we expected. As if the “right prayer”, from the “righteous life”, with the “right attitude” will obligate the Almighty God to do our bidding.

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.”

Back then there were neither phones nor email. It took two days for a messenger to carry the words of the sisters to Jesus. And so this was the reply He sent back. Ironically by the time the message arrived, Lazarus had already been dead. Imagine what it was like to be Mary or Martha: right when you just loss your love one, the messenger came back alone (without Jesus and) with the strange message, “This sickness will not end in death!”

Was Jesus Ignorant (didn’t He know that Lazarus was dead)? Sometimes it’s hard for us to comprehend HIS PROMISE. Many times the circumstances we see around us seemed to be a total opposite of what we hear from Him: Our parents shredded us into pieces, and God said that they are our pride[iv]; our friends abandoned us because of our new faith, and Jesus said that we will gain hundreds more[v]; our employment situation became hopeless, and God promise He will deliver[vi]; our spouses blew up at us again, and God said that we received them as favors from the Lord[vii]...... No! Jesus is not making ignorant promises! Even though sometimes it’s hard for us to comprehend HIS PROMISE, we need to realize that His promises came from His deepest love for us.

Verse 5: Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

When we love someone, we want to rush to help them: “Do something! Don’t just stand there, do anything!” When Jesus loved, He waited and took His time.

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