Summary: The miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is the enacted Word of God which most clearly reveals God to man through the Savior.
“Never Too Late With Jesus”
Pastor V. P. Oliver
John 11: 21-23 (1-44)
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.”
This seventh and final sign or miracle recorded in the Gospel of John has been called the supreme miracle of Jesus while He walked this earth. It surpasses the other signs in its purpose of demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God. John’s Gospel is a study of the mastery and creativity of Jesus as He performs signs or miracles to demonstrate and declare His divinity. Can I show you? In chapter 2 He gave wine by His spoken Word to make glad the hearts of men. In chapter 4 by faith and grace Jesus healed the nobleman’s son. In chapter 5, in defiance of the Sabbath-keepers, Jesus healed the impotent man. In chapter 6 He set a table in the wilderness, on a hill near the Sea of Galilee and fed 5000 thousand in response to their physical needs. In that same 6th chapter He came to the rescue of His own disciples, walking on water and stilling raging seas. In chapter 9, as the Light of the world, He opened the eyes of one who was born blind. And here in this 11th chapter Jesus gives life back to a dead friend to prove His claim to be the Resurrection and the Life for all mankind.
The miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead is regarded as the supreme sign because it is the enacted Word of God which most clearly reveals God to man. Unlike the other signs, where the active faith or cooperation of others was involved, Jesus is solely and sovereignly in charge of the action from start to finish. This final sign in John’s Gospel, which signals the beginning of Christ’s passion journey, which could only end at Calvary, is pivotal. Why, because it ventures into the area of life that we fear the most and know the least about; our death, our mortality. From the onset, this story about a friend who has died and a family that Jesus loved so dearly, is filled with a sense of desperation and hopelessness. Everything about it speaks of our helplessness over sickness and death. Everything about this familiar story sends the message, “It’s too late.” The Master’s delay in returning to Bethany said “It’s Too Late;” His statement to His disciples that “Lazarus is dead” said to them “It’s Too Late;” Martha and Mary’s despair over Jesus not coming sooner suggests that they believed that “It Was Too Late;” they all send the same message of desperation, “It’s too late!” But today, as we examine this miracle, I want to reassure you that it’s “Never Too Late With Jesus.”
1. NEVER TOO LATE FOR THE LORD’S DELAY.
First we need to examine THE LORD’S DELAY. Even when you experience a DELAY IN LIFE, and it appears that time has run out, you need to remember that it’s “Never Too Late With Jesus.” John, the writer of this Gospel account, takes great care to reassure us that THE LORD’S DELAY is not a careless or thoughtless act. John prefaced the report of His DELAY with the words of verse 5; “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus.” So it was not because of a lack of concern for the magnitude of the crisis or what was at stake that Jesus DELAYED His return to Bethany. No, THE LORD’S DELAY was because of His love. (There’s somebody here today who is yet waiting on the Lord to move on your behalf. But you need to remember that it’s not too late.) John already said that Jesus loved this family. He enjoyed spending time with them. But because He loved these two sisters, Martha and Mary, Jesus wanted to strengthen their faith as a result of this crisis. He could more greatly strengthen their faith by allowing Lazarus to die and lie in a tomb for four days and then resurrecting him, than He could by hurrying to Lazarus’ side and healing him before he died. (So if you’re still waiting on the Lord, it just might be that He’s allowing your situation to get ripe for a miracle.) So He tarried at Bethabara for two days and timed His arrival at Lazarus’ home on the fourth day after His death. The intent of THE LORD’S DELAY was to demonstrate that regardless of how much time it takes, or the distance that must covered, it’s “Never Too Late With Jesus.”
2. NEVER TOO LATE FOR THE DEAD IN CHRIST.
Not only is it “Never Too Late With Jesus” when it comes to the DELAYS OF LIFE, but this miracle also shows us that it’s “Never Too Late” for the DEAD WHO DIE IN THE LORD. Verse 14 says, “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” Earlier in verse 11 when Jesus told them that their friend Lazarus was “sleeping,” He was using a biblical term, which describes the death of a saint or a believer. But His disciples thought that Jesus spoke of natural sleep, so they concluded that Lazarus must be better, as sleep suggests that the fever had broken. But Jesus meant what He had said. Lazarus was dead. For the believer, death is a sleep for his body. That’s why the word “sleep” so aptly describes the death of a believer. The Bible commentator, J. Vernon McGee had this to say about the believer’s death; “The body is put to sleep, to be awakened by the Lord. He is the only One Who has the alarm clock. He is the only One Who can raise the dead. And one day He will come and we shall awaken in our new bodies.” Jesus was not worried that Lazarus was dead, because He knew that he was just asleep.