Summary: Lazarus goes through the experience of death to prove the power of Christ over the grave

The Lazarus Syndrome

John 11

May 30, 2010

Morning Service


Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill.

In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

(adapted from wikipedia)

Read John 11:1-6

JN 11:1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

Who was Lazarus?

There is some confusion with the Lazarus story. Many people connect the story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John with the parable that Jesus tells about the Rich Man and Lazarus. There are some similarities between the two stories: both men were named Lazarus and both men named Lazarus died. However this is where the similarities end. The account in Luke is simply a parable that Jesus uses the name Lazarus. The parable shares the name and nothing more.

There is little in the gospels about Lazarus but we do have some specific facts that we can glean from the New Testament.

* Lazarus was a close personal friend of Jesus

* Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha

* Lazarus was later an intended victim of a plot by the religious leadership

* Lazarus is an abbreviation of Eleazar which means whom God helps

Lazarus likely lived with Mary and Martha because Jesus later ate in their home. There are a couple of possibilities for this. The first is that Lazarus was a much younger brother who was not yet married. The second possibility is that Lazarus was acting as the head of the household and took care of both Mary and Martha. No matter what the circumstances were, Lazarus was a vital part of the family and Mary and Martha were greatly distressed by his illness.

Why did Jesus allow Lazarus to die?

Jesus is told of the illness of Lazarus and the grave situation that His friend was in. It is important to note that Jesus could have left then and made it in time to heal Lazarus. However, Jesus makers the decision to remain where He was for two more days. Only when Lazarus had died did Jesus make the decision to go to Bethany.

Why does Jesus do this?

Jesus understood that there was a specific time to everything He needed to do. Jesus kept Himself in the timing of God. The reality is that timing is everything. The problem is that Jesus did not arrive in the time that Mary and Martha wanted. Jesus kept His focus on His mission and the plan of God. Jesus allows Lazarus to die for two key reasons.

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