Summary: In confronting and conquering the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus demonstrated that the believer’s hope is not in vain.
Jesus gave us hope when He conquered death. In confronting and conquering the tomb of Lazarus, He demonstrated that the believer’s hope is not in vain. The believer will be raised from the dead, resurrected by the great shout of the Lord’s power. Tonight we are going to see Jesus confront death and we will see how it brings glory to God.
READ 38-39. The first thing we see in verse 38 is that Jesus was deeply moved within Himself. He stood face to face with the grave. Now remember He saw the pain of Mary and Martha and their friends. He sensed the terrible dread and bondage that death held over His friend Lazarus and over the whole human race. And as we said last week, Jesus was conscious of His own death that lay only a few days away.
He was moved from deep within. He sensed an intense love for all who suffer and a holy anger as well as displeasure against death.
Jesus is confronted with an objection from a believer. Note a couple of things:
1. An unbeliever might question if Lazarus were truly dead. But note the emphasis that is place on the fact that Lazarus was truly dead.
a. Lazarus was in a real tomb, a tomb of the wealthy. Martha’s wealth was shown by her owning a house that was large enough to lodge Jesus and His disciples when they were in the area. And if by any chance Lazarus had only been mistaken for dead before, he was certainly dead now. Four days without food or water in such circumstances would kill any weak and critically ill person.
b. Note, too, that Martha was shocked at Jesus’ request. The body would have started to decompose after four days.
2. And it was a believer (that is, Martha) who objected to Jesus’ confronting the situation. And we see distrust and uneasiness in Martha’s objection. She wasn’t sure that Jesus’ action was wise nor for the best. She was uneasy about what Jesus was doing and asking. She didn’t want the situation disturbed. She was satisfied with things as they were, with Lazarus laid to rest as he was. What she wanted was to be comforted, not disturbed.
And that describes a lot of believers. They want things left alone, being happy with things as they are. They want only enough of Christ to give them comfort and security and ease. They want little if anything to do with His demands and confrontation with the sin and death of the world.
READ 40. We see a great promise of unlimited faith. Jesus challenged Martha to take a big leap of faith. He wanted her to conquer her complaining and to set aside her objections. He wanted her to trust Him, to quit questioning what He did. Very simply, He wanted her to rest in Him, to place an unlimited, resting faith in Him.
Note what the promise was to Martha, (and to all); if she would believe and simply rest in Him, she would see the glory of God. By glory, Jesus meant His mercy and power, love and care on this earth. But the promise applies to the next world as well. The person who will step back and let God act as He wills—the person who truly rests in God—will see the glory of God in the next world.
READ 41-42. This is a great prayer of purpose. Note the wording when I said prayer of purpose. Every prayer is to be a prayer of purpose. This is Jesus’ point. He was praying for a specific purpose, and in so doing He demonstrated the purpose and the power of prayer. When a person truly prays with purpose, he receives the answer to his prayer and witnesses to the power of prayer. Lets’ look closer at Jesus’ prayer.
1. Jesus addressed God as “Father.” Here’s that intimate and continuous relationship with God again. He knew God as His Father and God knew Jesus as His Son. We, as believers, are supposed to call upon God as Father and to approach God as a child would; intimately and boldly, yet respectfully and reverently.
2. Jesus requested that His Father do something. He said, “You have heard me.” What Jesus asked was not stated, but when we read this we know from the context that it has to do with the power to conquer death. It has something to do with the strengthening of believers standing around and watching Him. It has something to do with the stirring of others to believe and trust Him.
3. Jesus offer thanksgiving to the Father, praising the Father for the privilege of prayer and of being heard and having His prayers answered. This is a good lesson for us as believers. God is to be praised for prayer, for the open access He allows into His presence and for the glorious fact that He hears and answers us.