Summary: We ned to ’roll away the stone’ so Seekers can ’hear’ Jesus and respond. Then we need to ’unwrap them and let them go free’.
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go!” Jn 11:38-44 WBC 4/1/4
Stunning passage. Stunning words: “Lazarus! Come forth!”
Can remember reading it as a new Christian
- 22 years on I’m still certain this happened, as written
o even more so since my trip to Lagos
- it’s gripping and tragic. Sorry don’t have time to read all
o can feel the emotion.
o Jesus’ best friends. ‘Jesus wept’
o Example of life- bad things happening to good people and it breaking Jesus’ heart
And Him working in it
“DEAD FOUR DAYS” (v39)
This was a great miracle as Lazarus dead 4 days
- actually- this miracle was the turning point for Jesus (v45)
You may think a situation is hopeless. Bad smell. Dead.
- but we believe in the resurrection of the dead!
Now- I’m going beyond the physical, here. I DO believe people physically get raised from the dead (not least, Jesus!)
- but this morning I’m talking about my… our realm of experience
You may think someone is BEYOND saving. In a terrible state
- like in Eph 2:1-8 & Col 2:13 where it uses the terminology ‘dead in our sins’
o = how we’re described before we’re born again
o in the darkness. In the cave. Away from the ‘light of Christ’ Jn 1:4
You may think they’re beyond hope… saving
- but they’re not
- Jesus has the last word!
- One word from Jesus and the dead can live! Come out of the dark cave
Jn 8:12 "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
“ROLL AWAY THE STONE” (v39)
But note- before Jesus can tell Lazarus to come out- He asks his followers to roll away the stone
- why? Why didn’t he just ‘zap’ it? Can He raise the dead but not move a stone?
o Because those who wanted Lazarus raised… pleaded with Him… played an active part in bringing him to new life
God, often, doesn’t just ‘up and answer’ our prayers. He involves us.
- often we pray for something… but do nothing more
o for all kinds of reasons- fear, uncertainty, apathy maybe
But what they did was key to the dead being brought to life
- this stone stopped Lazarus hearing… being able to be raised
o it was a genuine, big and real block
THEY must roll away the stone. Not least because THEY put it there!
We think, nowadays: ‘oh there’s no point in doing anything. People aren’t interested’
- rubbish! THAT’S one of the boulders we must remove
o now wonder they, sometimes, aren’t interested!
o “oh I’ve only found something that has changed my life completely. But you won’t be interested”
Nobody would dare market a product like that! How dare we present eternal life in the same way!
- Rubbish! People’s hearts are crying out for liberation! Jesus. God
o They’re just so starved they don’t know it (yet)
- Identify the boulders… blocks… remove them… and people come. God does the rest.
Remember: God hasn’t put the blocks there! Believe it or not He STILL wants people to know Him!
What are the stones?
1) The church. Christians
I think I think the biggest stone over the mouth of the cave is God’s people
- it’s how we act and how we are perceived.
Listen! Nobody who comes into contact with genuine people who gobble them up in love are going to stay in the tomb!
- loved- whether they ‘toe the line’ or not. Valued. Not evangelism fodder
- but we do fail. Even here (and seriously- you’re pretty good)
- “We were finding it very difficult to get to know folk at WBC (apart from yourself and Sheila) and felt God calling us elsewhere.”
o Now- I know that wasn’t completely true! You have to make an effort, too, to get to know people
But why leave this kind of thing open to misunderstanding?
You folks whose HG is involved in Alpha… or going to be involved
- you need to be HERE. Welcoming. Gobbling them up. ALL of you. Not leaving it for the wolves to do so.
o Praying for them. Being ‘shepherds’ to the newborn flock.
Maybe another stone is that Lazarus, wrongly, perceives that ‘the church is really for women’
- that’s rubbish, too! I’m SO thrilled by what the Lord is doing in our men’s lives
o men! Come forth! Rise up! Roll away the stone! Make a noise! Take the lead
roll away the stone- and God will bring Lazarus to life
God IS willing. The dead WILL come to life. We have to just remove the stones
- seriously! Don’t worry or pressurise. Remove the stones & let God do His stuff in His time & way.