RESURRECTION (THE ULTIMATE SIGN MIRACLE) DEMONSTRATES BOTH THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE VALUE JESUS PLACES ON FAITH
Stedman: For me, the hardest problem I have to handle as a Christian is what to do when God does not do what I have been taught to expect him to do; when God gets out of line and does not act the way I think he ought. What do I do about that? …
We cannot believe that God is not going to work according to the logic of the situation as we understand it. The incredible arrogance of the human mind, including my own, that thinks it knows more than the mighty, infinite mind of God never fails to amaze me. But everywhere Scripture drives us back to this: believe his word. Trust his word. It will not fail. It will not leave us in the lurch at last. We cannot understand the delays, but we must never question God’s ways or lose faith in his word.
I. (:1-16) SIGN MIRACLES ARE MOST IMPRESSIVE WHEN YOU MAXIMIZE THE DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Why would Jesus choose to wait and raise the level of difficulty from that of healing the sick to that of raising the dead? – This is the question that must be answered.
A. (:1-3) A Simple Opportunity
1. (:1) Crisis of a Critical Nature
“Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.”
2. (:2) Connection of a Compassionate Relationship
“And it was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.”
Stedman: What John is trying to show us is that this home in Bethany, on the other side of the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem, was a love-filled home. That is the dominant note of this whole scene: a home filled with love. Martha loved Jesus; Mary loved Jesus; Lazarus loved Jesus; Jesus loved them; they loved each other. This was a home filled with love, therefore it was one of the most welcome havens for our Lord during his troubled earthly lifetime.
3. (:3) Call for Concerned Deliverance
“The sisters therefore sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
Expectation is clearly expressed. Since you love Lazarus as well as Mary and Martha, you will spring into action immediately and solve this crisis.
B. (:4-6) A Surprising Complication
1. (:4) Key to the Crisis
a. Clear Promise
“This sickness is not unto death”
Stedman: The remarkable thing about that is, if you carefully check out the schedule of timing of this event, Lazarus was already dead when the message reached Jesus. It took two days for the messenger to get to the Jordan, so when Jesus returned to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead four days. It is difficult for us to believe that Jesus did not know that because of the insight that the Spirit of God had given him on numerous occasions. But he sees this as a signal from the Father that something tremendous is going to happen in connection with it, thus he sent back this remarkable word, “This illness is not unto death.”
b. Immediate Purpose
“but for the glory of God”
c. Ultimate Purpose
“that the Son of God may be glorified by it”
Hendriksen: The answer which Jesus gave indicates that he was looking beyond death. When he said, ‘This illness is not unto death,’ he did not mean, ‘Lazarus is not going to die,’ but ‘Death will not be the final outcome of this illness.’ The culmination will be ‘the glory of God,’ i.e., the manifestation of the power, love, and wisdom of God, so that men may see and proclaim these virtues. One should compare this with 9:3.
2. (:5) Kindness Called For
“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”
Must have been difficult for Mary and Martha to wait and not see Jesus come in time. Must have been difficult for Jesus to see them so disappointed.
3. (:6) Callousness Seemingly Demonstrated
“When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was.”
We want to manipulate the Lord like a rabbit’s foot to act in our timing and to accomplish our own agenda. We fail to see the bigger picture and find fault with the Lord for not taking what we view to be the simplistic approach.
C. (:7-16) A Scared Response from the Disciples
1. (:7-8) Risky Business
“Then after this He said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?’”
Stedman: Have you noticed the many times in the gospels when Jesus confounds his disciples? They do not understand his actions. These are those hard moments when God does things we do not understand. We cannot figure them out. They are beyond us. They baffle us and discourage us at times. Yet what they reveal is how little we understand. It is God who is the realist. He never deceives himself. He always acts in perfect accord with what the situation demands. He does not suffer from illusions and fantasies like we do. He does not pursue hopeless aims like we do. He acts in line with reality.
2. (:9-10) Providential Protection
a. Fixed time span for earthly ministry of Jesus
“Are there not twelve hours in the day?”
b. Lighted pathways
“If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.”
c. Danger outside of God’s plan
“But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
Tasker: for while the time allotted to Him by His Father for the display upon earth of divine power is still present, no harm can come to Him. He can travel safely, as a man walking in the sunlight, unmolested by the powers of darkness.
3. (:11-14) Literal Mindedness
“Lazarus is dead”
4. (:15) Final Explanation and Assurance
“and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.”
5. (:16) Sarcastic Response
“Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
II. (:17-29) SIGN MIRACLES ARE MOST IMPRESSIVE WHEN EVEN DEVOUT BELIEVERS HAVE GIVEN UP HOPE
Why had Lazarus been placed in the tomb? — This is the question that must be answered.
A. (:17) Hope Buried
“So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.”
B. (:18-19) Grief Beyond Consolation
“Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother.”
C. (:20-21) Bitter Blame
“Lord, If You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
– “If” looks back
– “If” emphasizes the selfishness of our lives
– “If” seeks for explanation and excuses; shaking our fist at God; God does not
owe us an explanation
“Lord” – acknowledges control, etc.
D. (:22-27) Lesson in Faith
1. (:22) Faith not Extinguished
“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
Pretty impressive statement.
2. (:23) Promise Reiterated
“Your brother shall rise again”
3. (:24-26) Confusion Regarding the Eternal vs. the Now
4. (:27) Confession of Faith
“Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
E. (:28-29) Small Steps of Obedience
“The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”
III. (:30-37) NOTHING BREAKS THE HEART OF GOD MORE THAN THE UNBELIEF AND SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS OF HIS OWN PEOPLE
Why did Jesus weep? – This is the question that must be answered.
– true that He is compassionate and loving; but that is not the answer
A. (:30-32) Broken Record – Encounter with Mary parallels that of Martha
“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
B. (:33-35) Broken Heart of God
C. (:36-37) Broken Analysis — Good Data, Wrong Conclusions
Assumption that Lazarus’ death was a mistake that Jesus wished had never happened
1. (:36) Crying Interpreted as Expression of Love and Sorrow
“Behold how He loved him!”
2. (:37) Criticism of His Failure to Act – No credit for the tears
“Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?’
IV. (:38-44) RESURRECTION IS THE MOST IMPRESSIVE DEMONSTRATION OF THE GLORY OF GOD
Why did Jesus make such a spectacle about this miracle? – This is the question that must be answered.
A. (:38) Time for Action
“Jesus therefore again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.”
B. (:39) Test of Obedience and Natural Objection
1. Test of Obedience
“Remove the stone”
2. Natural Objection
“Lord, by this time there will be a stench; for he has been dead four days.”
C. (:40) Testimony of Faithfulness
“Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
D. (:41-44) Thanksgiving in Advance of Awesome Miracle of Resurrection