Today, we are going to look at the recording of raising of Lazarus from the dead. We only read a couple verses since the story is long, but will eventually read whole thing. This recording in Jesus' ministry is a prelude to the Easter story recorded in John. In fact, John records that it is this event that sets off chain reaction leading directly to cross. If you look immediately at the last section of John 11, the plot to kill Jesus begins. So it is an important recording in the Bible and important to reflect now, before Easter
Lazarus was a close personal friend of Jesus, brother of Mary and Martha. He is different from the parable of rich man and Lazarus, just share a common name. He was a vital part to the family, likely the only man in the family. So Mary and Martha were greatly distressed by his sickness and sent word to Jesus about it. Jesus had healed many sicknesses for all kinds of strangers and sinners before.
Think about it, the feeling is like we have an inside track as close personal friends of Jesus. Surely, if he could help strangers than he will help us too. But that is not what happens, when Jesus hears about sickness, doesn't return immediately. Instead, Jesus stayed two more days where, the Lord knows Lazarus died in that time. People have this question - why did Jesus stay two more days? Mary and Martha surely asking.
I think a clue to this in in this extended, I think somewhat awkward conversation with disciples. After two days, disciples forgot about Lazarus probably, but Jesus did not. Disciples are worried about Jews possibly stoning Jesus to death. Jesus replies that a person's path can't be determined by darkness of the unknown world. We must walk in the light of God and what we know. Jesus also reminds his disciples that he needs to return to Judea for Lazarus' sake. He says Lazarus is asleep and the Lord needs to return in order to wake Lazarus up. The disciples misunderstand that Jesus means regular, actual sleep and not death. You can sense from disciples response, they really don't want to go back to Judea and possible stoning.
Jesus says it more clearly and forcefully for the disciples about Lazarus. Disciples realize that there is no stopping Jesus from going back to Judea. This final word from Thomas is interesting, John records it representative disciples - v16.
Was this submissive pessimism or heroic love? Biblical scholars vary in their opinion. Different disciples probably had different feelings or even both feeling. Whatever it is, there is overwhelming feeling you can capture from this extended and awkward conversation.
The disciples and all of us living on this earth are trapped by the power of death. We view time from a personal, really a selfish perspective of my time in this world - 100 years? We view it from what I can tangibly see for myself, my immediate family. We view it like that because we know with our mind that there is an end to my time on earth. Death has the power to end my time here on earth. As people of faith, we should know those that believe in Jesus will receive eternal life - John 3:16.
Disciples here know, Jesus talked to them about the resurrection, but they still overpowered by death. Here's the thing - Satan's power of death in this world is changing our worldview on death. This is clear from Genesis 3, the serpent confuses Adam and Eve on what death is.
Satan changes the definition of death and changes our worldview on death. When the definition of death becomes my time in this world, I become selfish and arrogant. There is no grace in that definition of death, I must capture as much as I can in my time here. I must capture as much wealth, power, fame, pleasure because my time is limited. Look at the news - see economics, politics, celebrity - entrapped in own little worlds. When everyone thinks this way, we see Satan's work in sinful world. It's a systematic, structure of sin, a worldview on death that is different from God.
What is God's view on death? In God's view, definition of death is not based on time. In God's view, the definition of death is unbelief, separation from God, destroying our relationship. This is what the Bible teaches us, this is the Christian worldview of death. In God, time is eternal, God has set eternity in our hearts, with God, with Jesus live eternal life. Death is not based on time, death is based on a separation of our relationship with God. What is the insidiousness of Satan in this world? We have become trapped in death.
In this conversation between Jesus and the disciples, you can sense differing worldview Jesus and disciples. It's really an awkward conversation, you can sense the Lord agitation of power death has over people. The Lord understand time in the different way, he understand the fall of man clearly. We were never meant to be trapped in death, we were meant have a relationship with eternal God. People of faith, even we need to watch out for this, we are just like disciples here. Even with a Christian worldview, we fall into Satan's worldview, lack faith, base death on time. We easily fall into the selfishness of this world, we become trapped in the power of death.
Going back to the question - why did Jesus wait two more days to heal Lazarus? God's timing and our timing are different - we live in this world, God lives eternal. There are times we can question the timing of God. It seems like God's plan throw my ideas and my thoughts into disarray. The problem is not with God, the problem is not with Jesus here - it's on us. We can huff, puff, and have awkward conversation like disciples or we can jump on board with Lord. Because what the Lord is doing here is providing us with a basis for faith.
What we can see here in this long section is the reaction of 3 people: Martha, Mary, Friends. Here's the thing, we all react differently to death, Bible recording 3 ways here. All of us, people of faith, we all react differently, I think it represents us all. Martha is a person whose reaction and whose faith is logical an in her head.
On one hand, Martha knows what kind of faith she should have - v22, v27. Martha is a person that knows that in faith we should believe that God can do anything. On the other hand, when confronted with death, her natural reaction took over - v39.
She doubts here about taking the stone away because she begins to smell the bad odor. Until now, Jesus had healed the sick, barely living, he's even healed the recently dead. But Lazarus here had been in the tomb 4 days already and an odor was there. If the others healed were almost or just dead, Lazarus and odor was clearly dead. Because of that, in her head, her faith is in her head, natural reaction is worldview on death. I think many of us are like this when we are acquainted with someone who dies.
Mary is a person who reaction and whose faith is very emotional. On one hand, Mary in mourning, hears Jesus is here, immediately gets up to meet Jesus. But when she actually meets the Lord, she breaks down in front of the Lord.
She is emotionally overcome by the power of death, I think many of us are like this close dead. This happened to me when I attended funeral of my uncle when I old enough understand. The Lord also weeps with Mary - shortest verse in Bible v35. The Lord's grief is not like Mary's, the Lord's grief is over the power that death has over people. It's that power of death in this world, that causes people this extreme emotional anguish also. This is the extreme pain that Satan causes in this world.
The observers misunderstand Jesus' grief as something more humanistic. They see Jesus grief that somehow Jesus favors this family, could have done something for them. They even make the comment that if he could open eyes blind, he could have healed person he loved. They misunderstand that the Lord loves us all and grieves for us all in this sinful world. These observers have a cynical, what-if viewpoint on death. What are the things we can do to protect our own, what if this happens or that happens. It's a very humanistic view on death.
As we look at the reactions of these 3 people, we can see why the Lord waited two more days. The Lord sets a basis for faith is far different than the natural reactions of the world. The world views death based on the time we have here on this earth. The Bible, Christian worldview views death based on our relationship with God. We lost our relationship with God and couldn't restore it no matter what because of our sin. That is why we needed Jesus, that is why Jesus had to carry the cross and carry our sins. It's through Jesus that our relationship with God can be restores.
John 11:25-26 I am the resurrection and the life
Life doesn't end at the cross, it doesn't end at death as the world views it, there is resurrection. Through Jesus, we can restore our relationship with God. The Lord says I am the resurrection and the life. Faith is more than just a head relationship, emotional relationship, humanistic relationship. Faith is an eternal relationship, a resurrected relationship with God through Jesus.
The Bible records Jesus' great miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus. It's the miracle that will happen to all of us who truly believe, have faith, and relationship with Jesus. Hope that through today's message, we can gain strength in our relationship with the Lord. Easter is coming, it's a time to reflect more deeply on cross and resurrection. It's a time to reflect more deeply on our relationship with the Lord. Hope we can be the ones not trapped in death but living eternally in our relationship with Lord.