Summary: A narrative sermon on the raising of Lazarus
My text this morning is John 11 and a funeral scene is described....A beloved brother has died...2 sisters are left to mourn.
The two sisters – Mary and Martha have a much loved but very sick brother—They don’t call for the doctor – instead they call for the great physician.
But the family friend, Jesus, mysteriously delays his arrival... the narrator lets us inside the story a little ( v 4) by telling us there’s some revelation of God’s glory to follow... in other words, there a story within the story.
... it seems he often retreated to their home in Bethany – just a short walk from Jerusalem... away for the demands of ministry.
And Lazarus has two sisters – Mary and Martha – we read of them in Luke 10
We are not told the family history...But It seems the 3 share a home – likely to stave off poverty.
Lazarus becomes ill and before Jesus can help, he dies.
Death of a loved one is a trauma for any family – even more so in the ancient world... where poverty was never far away... and where women were quite vulnerable.
In the Jewish world...Typically... the funeral is one day later
And so in quick order, Lazarus dies and is buried... but the grief isn’t managed quite as efficiently.
And when Jesus arrives ...4 days have already passed. It's disappointing that Jesus didn’t drop everything and come.
Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?
The mourning and weeping have begun...Grief has set in
Yes, Grief... we know it all too well – it's the price we pay for loving someone deeply.
When Jesus finally arrives he is met by Martha
She throws a carefully worded comment his way– half compliment and have complaint;
“if you had been here... my brother would not have died.”... but I know even now God will give you whatever you ask.” (v. 22)
Jesus wastes no words in his reply ; “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha; I know he will rise at the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus: (But Martha...) “I (!) am the resurrection – and the life - he who believes in me will live – even though they die.”
That’s quite an audacious statement and perhaps too much to grasp when you’re grief-stricken.
Martha calls for her sister, Mary ....”the teacher is here and is asking for you.”
Mary quickly responds and goes to meet Jesus...
Notice in the story, she makes the same comment; “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
And now Mary breaks down in tears of grief...
And when Jesus saw these tears ... and the other mourners also weeping... he too was moved to tears....
And ... ”Jesus wept.”
In fact...the narrative says more... “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”
Where is he? Asks Jesus... ... “Where have you laid him?
As Jesus approaches the tomb of his friend, once more he is deeply moved...
“take away the stone.” (v 39)
But... Lord – it's been 4 days!
Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God!
The stone is removed – do you see the foreshadowing of Easter here ... this isn’t a mere coincidence.!!!
The glory of God is on display...power over death!
There’s a story within the story!
Jesus looks heavenward and speaks to his Father: “Father I thank you that you have heard me... I say this for the benefit of the people standing here... that they may believe.
Then in a loud and commanding voice Jesus speaks to Lazarus:
“Lazarus! Come out!”
The dead man comes out – still wrapped in grave clothes!
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go!” says Jesus!
*** these grave clothes... this casket... isn’t the last word for Mrs. Single... there’s a new world and a new body and a new life waiting for God’s people.
Quite a remarkable miracle!!!
...Jesus made a statement here -- He is greater than death
Death was defeated on this day
Not much longer until Jesus himself will be killed and placed in a tomb – with a stone sealing the doorway.
But Jesus is going to come out of that tomb
Jesus... who holds the power of life -- defeating death!
Remember his words:
I am the resurrection ... I am life!
After his resurrection Jesus showed himself to be alive for a 40 day period...
On one occasion to 500 people at once.
500 eye-witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus!
Jesus alive – and alive forever.
And his resurrection is the down payment on our resurrection...
“I am the res and the life – he who believes in me will live – even though he dies.”
Billy Graham died in 2018 at the age of 99