Summary: God's glory, belief, hope, the resurrection
John 11:1-4 (p. 748) March 30, 2014
Have you ever been someplace that you didn’t want to leave? Like it’s the last day of your vacation...You’re at the beach or lounging around the pool and you think...”Hey, maybe I’ll just stay a couple of more days.”
You remember Peter, James and John with Jesus on the Mountain of transfiguration. Moses and Elijah appear, Jesus shines like the sun in His divine glory, and Peter...(God bless his heart) knows he’s experiencing something so far beyond good it’s unexplainable and he says to Jesus, “let’s build some tents up here in the Mt. and just stay here!”
It doesn’t say how long Lazarus has been sick in our text. We don’t know if he’s been feeling bad for a long time and it takes a turn for the worse or if it got real bad real quick.
There are two things we know for sure about this sickness...(One) it put him in bed, “Lazarus now lay sick...and (two) this sickness was so bad it killed him...”Jesus told his disciples in verse 14 “Lazarus is dead.”
We’re dealing in a time when there are no x-rays, cat scans, or blood tests. What took Lazarus’ life. We don’t know. We do know these two things I mentioned plus those who loved him the most knew something was terribly wrong, so wrong they sent word to Dr. Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (v.3)
Lazarus dies...and we have to believe since he loved Jesus and Jesus loved him he went to paradise, Abraham’s bossom, The same place Jesus and one of the thieves on the cross went the night of His crucifixion and death. “This day you will be with me in paradise.”
I’ve been so hurt I should have died in a burn unit at St. Joe but I’ve never been so sick that death was a real possibility. (I’ve been sea sick...where I thought I was going to die and then more sea sick where I was afraid I wasn’t). I don’t think that counts.
But Lazarus goes from a bed ridden sickness so intensely bad it takes his life to paradise. A place the Apostle Paul got to see and he describes that vision like this: Caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:4).
Do you know what Paul is writing and thinking about right before he remembers paradise? His suffering, the lashes, the rods, the snake bites, the shipwrecks, the times he was hungry, naked, and thirsty.
And what gives him hope and encouragement? Paradise!! He’s seen it. He’s heard it. (There are many who believe he was there. He writes I don’t know if I had this vision while in the body or out of it. 14 years before Paul had been stoned in Lystra and left for dead...many believe he died...He saw paradise, and God brought him back.)
Lazarus has been in Paradise for 4 days when Jesus says, “Lazarus, come forth.”
When the “Resurrection and the life” calls your name, you will answer, but I wonder if Lazarus thought “No, I’m in Paradise, why would I want to go back to the Land of sickness and death?!! Why would I want 2 obituaries written?
Let me share with you today why this story is so important for the world today, for Christians and non-Christians alike.
I. DEATH IS GOD’S GREATEST VICTORY
In our story, Lazarus is dying and Mary and Martha his sisters send word to Jesus that “the one he loves is sick.”
When Jesus hears this he says, “This sickness will not end in death, no, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.” (v. 4) and then John makes it clear, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” (v. 5)
Then the next verse records something that blows our minds...something that makes no sense to our way of thinking at all!
“So when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was 2 more days.” (v.6)
We learn in verse 18 that Jesus and the crew are only “2 miles away” when he gets this word...Even in the days of sandals, he’s only ½ hour – 45 minutes from Bethany...where Lazarus lays sick and dying.
[On January 28th I got word that my mentor Wayne B. Smith was having severe heart issues and was at C.B...it didn’t look good...and like he’s done for me (more times than you can count), I rushed to the hospital with Kari and Jimmy Boling. We got there as soon as we could. Why, because I love Wayne B. Smith with all my heart.]
We expect to read...when Jesus got word about Lazarus he rushed to Bethany. He left immediately to care for his friend.