Published March 15, 2007
John 11:1, 3, 6-7, 20-27, 38-40, 43-44
Related Sunday School Lesson, Family Bible Series, March 25
During His three years of public ministry Jesus met thousands of people. Many of those people vehemently opposed Him and sought to silence Him. Eventually His critics nailed Him to a cross.
Others were captivated by His signs and miracles and followed Jesus for a while only later to withdraw from Him because His words were difficult to accept. Sadly, it was a very small group of true disciples who loved Jesus and followed Him fully.
Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:14, “How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life; and few find it.” Apparently Jesus did not have many close friends, so He treasured them greatly. One of those friends was a man named Lazarus.
Lazarus had two sisters, Martha and Mary. They lived in Bethany. Jesus enjoyed their hospitality and often stayed in their home and ate at their table. You can imagine how concerned our Lord must have been to learn that Lazarus was desperately sick.
A Desperate Situation - John 11:1, 3, 6-7
We know that Lazarus was very ill because Martha and Mary would not have summoned Jesus simply to deal with a common cold or stomachache. They knew Jesus was busy and His schedule was demanding. But this was no minor illness; Lazarus was desperately sick and time was short.
We also know Jesus loved Lazarus very much. His love for him is mentioned specifically in John 11:3, 5, and 36. What would you do if one of your best friends was gravely ill and had pleaded for you to come and see him? I’m certain you would do everything in your power to go to that friend, yet Jesus tarried. He remained where He was for two more days.
Have you ever found yourself in an impossible situation where you felt completely overwhelmed? Perhaps you prayed and you prayed but God did not answer. How did you feel? Waiting on God can test our faith. But waiting on God can also provide us with an astounding blessing.
“Shoulda ... Coulda ... Woulda” - John 11:20-27
By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and in the grave for four days. Martha greeted Jesus and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” What remarkable faith Martha had! Her brother had been dead for four days and yet now everything was going to be fine because Jesus had arrived.
Did she believe Jesus would raise her brother from the dead? We don’t know, but we do know the mere presence of Jesus made all things right in Martha’s mind.
What a lesson this is for all of us today. Jesus has promised He will always be with us. Therefore we should be able to face any challenge or tragedy with great hope knowing that Jesus remains at our side. “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Jesus assured Martha her brother would rise again. Martha assumed Jesus was referring to the “resurrection at the last day.” But Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die – ever.” Then Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe this?”
Martha replied, “Yes, Lord.” She also offered the basis for her faith saying, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was come into the world.”
Jesus can offer eternal life because of who He is and what He has done. Jesus is the Messiah, God incarnate, the perfect Lamb of God. He has purchased our redemption through His atoning death on the cross.
Because of that we can join the Psalmist in saying, “In God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11, HCSB). We can also join Martha in saying that everything is going to be fine because Jesus is with us.
Life and Hope Restored - John 11:38-40, 43-44
When Jesus arrived at the burial tomb He gave instructions for the stone at its entrance to be removed. Martha expressed concern that the decomposing body would smell. Jesus reminded her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” The stone was rolled away. Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus emerged still wrapped in linen grave clothing.
Martha and Mary had hoped Jesus would arrive in time to heal their ailing brother. But for the sake of the glory of God Jesus delayed in answering their call. As a result Martha and Mary were able to see Jesus resurrect their brother from the grave.
In this 21st century we marvel at the advances of modern medicine. Today a skillful physician can prescribe a series of medical treatments that often restore even the sickest of patients to good health. But only Jesus Christ can raise the dead. Only God can give life, take life, and then return it again.
Best of all, the new life He gives is eternal and perfect in every way. Jesus did many miracles. He multiplied loaves and fishes. He healed the blind and lame. He even walked on water.
But the greatest miracle Jesus performed was bringing the dead back to life. The amazing thing is that every time someone prays “the sinner’s prayer,” He does it all over again.
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