Lazarus Come Forth
Text: John 11:1-45
Summary: Jesus has the power to raise us from the dead. It is natural and appropriate for us to grieve when someone dies.
Dedication: In Memory of Pam, our neighbor (1959-1998). We love you.
About a week ago a good friend, a neighbor, was called home to be with the Lord. She was a kind woman, only 39 years old, who reared her children well, loved her family and friends, and will be sorely missed. She died of cancer. Have you ever lost a loved one? Do you wonder what happens to us when we die?
The Raising of Lazarus by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1497. Click thumbnail image to get to larger image.
Let’s look at a story about Lazarus, who was Jesus’ friend. Lazarus was sick. He was so sick everyone was afraid he would die. His sisters, Martha and Mary, sent word to Jesus to ask him to come heal Lazarus. Now Jesus loved Martha and Mary, but when he heard this he didn’t rush over to help him. He stayed in the same place for two days. We may not understand it, but sometimes when we pray, God doesn’t answer us immediately, or give us the answer we were hoping for. Then Jesus said to his followers, Lazarus is dead. He then set out on the journey to a little town outside of Jerusalem called Bethany. When he arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days.
When Jesus approached the town, Martha came out to meet him. She was very sad. She was upset that Jesus had not come sooner, but even now, she knew that God would grant him anything he asked for. Jesus said, Thy brother shall rise again. At first, Martha thought Jesus meant he would rise at the resurrection of all believers at the end of the age. She had no idea Jesus had come to raise Lazarus from the dead that very day.
[Read John 11:25-26] After hearing Jesus declare that he had the power to raise people from the dead, Martha responded in faith with a beautiful confession that Jesus was her Lord and Savior. She knew he was the Son of God and could do anything. Then she went to get Mary, her sister. Mary ran out to meet Jesus, and was near the burial cave. She was crying and very sad. It hurt Jesus’ feelings to see everyone crying because Lazarus was dead. Even Jesus began crying with them because he loved Lazarus too. The Bible says Jesus wept. (verse 35, this is the shortest memory verse I know about).
When we have a family member or close friend that dies, we grieve. That means our hearts are breaking because we loved that person so much and we will miss them. We remember all the good times we shared with them. We cry big tears. It is natural and appropriate that we cry when someone dies. Some boys think that crying is just for girls and is sissy. That’s not true. Notice that even Jesus cried when Lazarus died. It’s okay to cry when someone dies because we know we will miss him or her.
Mary told Jesus that if he had been there then Lazarus would not have died. She had seen Jesus heal many people and knew he could have prevented this. She was angry. When someone we love dies, sometimes we get angry and say things we shouldn’t say to those we love. We should try to comfort those who are in this situation as Jesus did. Jesus told the people to remove the stone over the cave where Lazarus lay. Mary thought this was a bad idea because the body was decaying and would stink after being in the tomb four days. But Jesus knew why God the Father had caused this delay. It was to show others that Jesus had power over death. Jesus knelt and said a prayer aloud, thanking God for what he was about to do. He did this as a witness to those watching. He didn’t do this to show off. Even when you go to McDonalds or Hardees, if you say a prayer quietly, even though God knows you a thankful, then others around you will see that you are a Christian.
Then he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
Then Lazarus’ soul, which had been in heaven, was called back into his body and he arose from the dead. He walked out with the burial cloth still wrapped around him. Everyone saw it and was amazed! Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead! When we believe on Jesus as Lord, when we die our soul goes to heaven and awaits the resurrection of our body. The day will come when Jesus will call all believers to reunite with their bodies. We will see our dead loved ones again and recognize them. Jesus will give us a new body that will last forever. This gives us a great hope. It reminds me of the hymn "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!" This is one of Jesus’ greatest miracles and it proves he is Lord and has power over death.
#31 Martha, Martha
©1998 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
The Raising of Lazarus by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1497, © 2002 National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Link used by permission.