John 11 - Lazarus being Raised
This morning, we are going to take our Bibles once again and look at the gospel of John. Today we are in chapter 11. Today we are going to look at one of the most significant and well-known miracles of Jesus, even though John is the only gospel writer to record it: the raising of Lazarus. Lazarus, along with his two sisters, Mary and Martha, lived in Bethany, a town about two miles east of Jerusalem. Their house was a favorite “getaway” location of Jesus. He loved them and loved to spend time with them. So he visited Bethany often. But we will see that such a significant event happened here that the name of the town was changed from “Bethany” to “El `Azariyeh” or “The town of Lazarus.” What was this? Let’s watch the screen and see.
Every good investigator is taught to ask questions: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. And I’d like us to look as these questions today. First, Where? Where does all this take place, and what is the significance of that? Back in 10:31, we see that the leaders of the Jews want to stone Jesus to death. In 10:39 we see they try to arrest him. In 10:40 we see Jesus gets out of the country, and goes across the Jordan River. map on ppt -- So, today we see Jesus coming back to Judea, to face up to all the hatred and scheming of the Jewish leaders. Why would he do this? A few reasons. First, because his time is coming. Over and over again, he has responded “My time is not yet come.” But Jesus returns to Judea , he prepares for the last leg of his earthly ministry. Second, he comes to Judea again because he has miracles to perform for his friends, and this morning we are going to look at not one, but three miracles Jesus performs. Third, Jesus returns because he wants to use this as a teaching lesson for his disciples. Look in 11:15 - “And for your sake, I am glad I wasn’t there, because this will give you another opportunity to believe in me. Come, let’s go see him.” Jesus is still teaching the disciples, and he wants to continue to teach us today, no matter how long we have been a Christian. Let’s pause right now and ask God to speak to our hearts. PRAY
Let’s look at three miracles Jesus performs here in this chapter. First,
I. The Miracle of Perspective - Here the question we want to look at is “Why?” Martha says in verse 21, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” The question she is asking is “Why did you let this happen?!” She says, “Jesus, if you would have simply come when we asked you to, you could have healed Lazarus and he would be fine, he would not have died. Jesus, WHY didn’t you come and help us?”
This is a question we often ask - Why did God let this happen. Normally what we are really asking is “Why did God let this happen TO ME? Normally, we are okay to accept the consequences of living in a fallen world as long as those consequences happen to someone else. But when bad things happen to us, it shakes our faith. We question the goodness of God. But we need to realize that God uses crisis to change our lives. Personal crisis will test personal faith.
Why do bad things happen to us? Jesus gives the answer in verse 40. While the text does not record this earlier, it appears that Jesus has stated this to Martha when she first questions him, and then restates it again after Jesus calls for the stone to be removed. Look at verse 40. Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you will see God’s glory if you believe?” God allows bad things to happen so He may show us his glory. Ezekiel 28:22 - God speaks to a nation where he is bringing judgment and says, “ I will reveal my glory by what happens to you.” Why does God allow tragedy? He desires to show his glory. He shows himself strong when we are weak.
Martha is given a new perspective - a new way of looking at things. Yesterday, one of the speakers at the missions conference gave this illustration. He said a man had four rowdy kids at the bus station; they were loud and out of control. Someone approached him about how loud his kids were and the man said, “Yes, I know, their mother died yesterday, and they’re having a difficult time knowing how to process all the emotions. Suddenly the observer’s perspective changes. From one of judgment to one of compassion.