Summary: Why would Jesus show up 4 days late for the funeral of one of His best friends? What was Jesus trying to teach and what can we learn from this miracle/"sign"?
OPEN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3lp0z981iM (Mark Lowry time stamp: 15:32-16:47)
When the dead sit up… the funeral’s over.
(That’s the last sentence in Mark Lowry’s segment on YouTube)
In Jesus’ ministry He raised only 3 people from the dead.
1. The son of the widow from Nain.
2. The daughter of a man named Jairus.
3. And the 3rd was one of his best friends – a man named Lazarus.
This event from Lazarus life is really odd because we're told that Jesus showed up 4 days late for the funeral. John 11:17 tells us “when Jesus came, He found that (Lazarus) had already been in the tomb four days.”
ILLUS: Now I once showed up ½ hour late for a funeral one time. That wouldn’t have been such a bad thing except I was supposed to be the one preach preaching the eulogy. To be fair, I at least had an excuse for that one: I lived across the state line in a different time zone. The funeral home didn’t think to remind me of the time difference… and it never crossed my mind. I was on my way when I got a call on my cell phone asking where I was.
So I showed up late for that funeral. But I have never DELIBERATELY showed up late for a funeral, and I have never shown up 4 days late any funeral.
BUT JESUS DID.
John 11:6 tells us “when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” Jesus DELIBERATELY stayed away for 2 days after He heard that Lazarus was sick!!!! And He ended up arriving 4 days late for the funeral
Now you know whenever Jesus shows up late for anything - especially for the funeral of a close friend - there’s got to be a reason. But what possible reason could he have???
Well, let’s take a little bit of a look of the background of the story here. Lazarus had 2 sisters – Mary & Martha and they all lived in Bethany – a small village about 2 miles west of Jerusalem. Then one day, Lazarus got sick… and he died. Mary and Martha KNEW he might die – and that’s when they sent for Jesus. John 11:3 says “… the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’” They desperately wanted Jesus to come, because if Jesus CAME, He could have healed him. But He doesn’t come and Lazarus DIES. So Mary and Martha are both upset and you can almost hear the reproach in their voices when they both tell Him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21
Even the mourners are bewildered by this whole thing. John 11:35-37 tells us that as Jesus approached the tomb He wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
SO why did Jesus show up late? The most obvious answer is… He wanted Lazarus to be dead by the time He got there. Bear in mind, this is the LAST of the 7 miracles in the Gospel of John, and each of those miracles was a SIGN that told us about Who Jesus was. So what’s THIS sign telling us about Jesus?
Well, in John 11:25 Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live….”
What’s that mean? It means that Jesus came to be our POWER of resurrection and He came to be our SOURCE of eternal life. Jesus literally came to take away the power of death.
Hebrews 2:14-5 “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, (Jesus) likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
People don’t like death. It’s not natural. It’s not normal. Even pagans realize it’s not the way things should be. Those who face death often see it as a step into the darkness and into the unknown. According to research, the fear of death is one of THE greatest fears people have
Aristotle called death the thing he feared most because "it appears to be the end of everything." Chinese superstition held that if just “mentioned” death you were basically inviting it to happen, and while “we” wouldn’t be superstitious about death, we really are. You’ll see people avoiding the topic. They’ll not even make arrangements for their death, often not even having a burial plot. They think “if I don’t talk about it… it won’t happen.” They really do fear death.