Summary: People wanted to see Jesus & Lazarus. They wanted hope and assurance beyond the grave and Jesus was the answer...so he was lifted up on the cross. He is still the answer today.
In Jesus Holy Name April 2, 2006
Lent IV John 12:20-21 Redeemer
Note: I’m indebted to Max Lucado for the phraseology and some ideas …from his book “He Chose The Nails”
“Can You See Jesus?”
“Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast (of the Passover). They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee with a request, “Sir,’ they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”
They were not the first to seek Jesus. “Nicodemus came in the middle of the night. The centurion came in the middle of the day. The leper and the sinful woman appeared in the middle of crowds. Zacchaeus was in a tree so that he could see. Matthew had a party and invited his friends to see Jesus.”
Millions of Jews from all parts of the world, and ethnic backgrounds were in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. TV cameras were not rolling. Newspaper reporters were not reporting…but everyone knew. They knew that Jesus was in the city.
Just a few days before Jesus had arrived in Bethany where Lazarus lived. John writes; “a dinner was given in the honor of Jesus. Martha served while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Jesus. V 9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there. They came to see him but they also wanted to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead.”
Word travels fast. What power. What excitement. Lazarus had been wrapped in strips of line, placed in a grave. The stone was set. It had been four days and Jesus came and called Lazarus back to life. Jesus had turned tears of grief into tears of joy.
Death stalks the human race. You see him as he hovers by the doors of the intensive care unit. Code Blue is a race that is often lost. When you slow your car past the twisted metal and covered bodies on the highway you can almost hear him call ….your time is coming.
Oh we try to prove him wrong. We jog. We diet. We exercise. We try to escape it. But it can only be postponed.
That’s why Lazarus was such a curiosity. He’s been to the other side. He’s back. What was it like? Did he look different? People wanted to know. That’s why large crowds wanted to see Jesus and Lazarus.
V 12 The next day the great crowds that had come to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They cut palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting….”Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Word about Jesus spread like wildfire on the dry Texas parries. John writes: “Now the crowd that was with Him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.”
It was a normal request. Philip…”Can we see Jesus?” Many of the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees and chief priests called a meeting of the Jewish high council, the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing? If we let this Jesus go on like this everyone will believe in him… v 10 “so the chief priests made plans to kill Jesus and Lazarus as well;’ because when people saw Lazarus and heard his story they put their faith in Jesus.
Years ago my family and I visited Washington D.C. We were attending our denominations National Youth gathering. We stood before the Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument. Like thousands of visitors we walked into that slice of earth along the long black granite wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The wailing wall of a generation.
We saw roses and teddy bears lay on the ground. The Black Marble was carved with carved with home town names. We were there to trace a name on a piece of paper.
If you stopped long enough, and looked beyond the names you saw your own reflection. Some day… we all have experienced the impending reality when our own names will be carved in granite. And for a while, family and friends will come on Memorial Day. Flowers will be placed. Memories recalled. And then….it will just be a name.
But death is not the end. Ask Lazarus. That’s why they wanted to see Jesus. “Since the children have flesh and blood, (that’s you and me) he too shared our humanity, so that by his death Jesus might destroy the one who holds the power of death…that is the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery to their fear of death.” (Heb. 2:14)
Families are held hostage, taken captive by sadness, still today. Jesus came into our world of tears to tell us, to show us that Satan’s grasp of fear is shattered by the cross and empty tomb, and his own resurrected body.