Summary: Jesus teaches us how to pray for the sick as He deals with the sickness of His friend, Lazarus.
Jesus, the God Man: The Gospel of John
“Praying for the Sick”
Introduction: “Will you pray for my friend or family member? They are sick.” Most of the time as believers or I as a pastor the prayer requests we get from people usually have to do with someone that is sick or dying. So how do you pray for those requests?
In our passage today we see this exact example mirrored in the life of Jesus. He has left Jerusalem and has been living in the area where John the Baptist had begun his ministry for about a month. It is here that He will hear of the grave illness of a close friend of His. It is in this encounter that we will learn some surprising truths about “praying for the sick.”
1. Come based on your relationship. (vv. 1-2)
“certain man named Lazarus” – His name is a form of the name Eleazorus which means God is our help.
This amazing story is not even mentioned in the other gospels but is only found in John. Most suggest that because the other gospels were written earlier during a time of intense Christian persecution that telling this story would have meant trouble for Lazarus and his family since they would have still been alive. Naming their names as John does would have meant difficulties for them. John was written much later and so he includes this story and gives names. It is likely that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were all dead and thus the threat of persecution would not exist.
“town of Mary and her sister Martha” – WOW! This town was known for a woman that lives there even though she is the younger sister. Martha is usually named first suggesting that she is the oldest and that the house belongs to her. One commentator said the house may belong to Martha but the town belonged to Mary!
What could that possibly mean? It means that Jesus’ words were true that He spoke in Matthew 26:13.
Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”Matthew 26:13 (NIV)
Jesus said she would be spoken of throughout history but no one would have known her name were it not for John giving it. It is interesting that this act of worship has not taken place yet (it occurs in John 12:1-8). John speaks of what she is known for and thus the town is known for her even though it has not yet taken place. He writes this in hindsight.
This story demonstrates the relationship that she and her family had with Jesus and soon we will see the depth of that relationship expressed in a message to Jesus.
If you are going to pray for the sick then make sure you have a relationship with Jesus and come to Him based on that relationship. Jesus is Jehovah-rophe, the God who heals. Ask Jesus not some other false god.
Example: The lady that said she was being prayed for by friends to other gods which was good because Jesus is known by other names! FALSE!
You come because you have a relationship with Jesus and that is what makes it possible for you to pray!
2. Ask, but don’t tell Jesus how to work. (v. 3)
“Lord” – kyrios which recognizes that He is God! In other words go to the Source for help. God is Healer not the doctor, nurse, the bottle of pills or other gods!
“one whom you love” – There it is! The relationship is why they brought the message. The word love is phileo which means fond of or brotherly love – “The one you love like a brother.”
Aren’t you glad that Jesus loves warmly like a person? That is His humanity that loves like that.
But this also reflects that they came based on His love for Lazarus and not the other way around. They did not say the one that loves you is sick. Come to Jesus based on Him and not us. It is about how much He loves us and not how much we love Him.
Sometimes we come and list all of our credentials and what we have done and how long we have been a believer or been faithful. People will talk about how much they love God and thus don’t know why this happened. We list all our deeds like that is supposed to move Him a little quicker like some spoiled actor from Hollywood that wants special treatment!
I am so glad that Jesus does not work in my life based on my love for Him, but rather based on His love for me!
“is sick” – Two words for sick in Greek. One means the disease itself and the second deals with symptoms. The second is used here which means deathly ill.