Today we look at life and death and afterlife. In today’s passage out of John 11, we will see two ladies, Mary and Martha who felt hopeless and angry. Their brother Lazarus was sick and dying, but Jesus did not go to help. Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus but did not help them when they expected it. This is an interesting picture of Jesus, someone who doesn’t immediately take us out of our situations. Maybe you’re a little uncomfortable with that image. But there was a reason, which we will see. Jesus eventually came through for Mary, Martha and Lazarus and He will come through for you. Like Mary, Martha and Lazarus we too need to know that life and faith will be difficult. They needed Jesus to help them through difficult times and we will too.
I NEED JESUS BECAUSE…
Sickness And Death Will Be A Part Of My Life
1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha…3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
There are many questions that immediately come to mind when we read through chapter 11 of John. Why was Lazarus sick? Why did Jesus wait two days after hearing Lazarus was sick? Why did Lazarus have to die? The questions are endless.
And so are the questions we often have as we go through our own type of difficulty and dillema. The “whys” of life can drive you crazy.
Understand that Jesus loved Lazarus. The Bible is very clear on that. Jesus loved him, but Lazarus was sick! You can be a friend of Jesus and still be sick! You can love Jesus and still be sick! That’s pretty clear in the scriptures. The love of God does not exempt one from sickness or sorrow or physical death.
Our sickness could be a number of things: physical, emotional, mental, family problems, and so on. Sickness can be termed as “that which causes any area to be infected with imperfection.” Here on earth human nature is infected with imperfection.
Even If He Delays Helping He Is In Control So I Should Keep My Faith
5 Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them. 7 Finally after two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.
Jesus waited two days before he came to help. John says “finally!” he goes. When your waiting on God to answer a prayer, for Jesus to help you it seems like forever. When he does help you may feel like saying “finally!” It says in verse 17 that “when he arrived Lazarus has been in his tomb for 4 days”
Have you noticed the attitude of Jesus as he heard the news of Lazarus’ sickness? He knew that Lazarus was dying but it didn’t seem to affect Jesus at all. He just kept doing what he needed to do. Jesus wasn’t upset in the least for he already knew what was going to happen when he reached Bethany. He already knew that there were no impossible situations and that his power to bring about a resurrection was not limited by any circumstances.
I think it would help us greatly to realize that our seemingly hard or impossible circumstances are nothing to God. His power transcends our trouble. His power is not limited by our faithlessness or our hopelessness. Jesus has resurrection power and he cannot only bring victory when we haven’t given up hope, but he is just as able to bring us the victory after we have long given up hope.
When it seems that our finances have already died and the stink is beginning to arise; when it seems that our health is completely gone and the doctors have given up on us; when it seems that God has waited too long and the stink of our unbelief, distrust, and hopelessness rises; that’s when Jesus is ready to show His power and glory in us.
When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, the family of Lazarus was long past having hope. Lazarus was already dead, buried and his grave was sealed. One of worst lies we can believe is “it’s over and there is nothing that God can or will do about it now.” It could come from our own disbelief or from the enemy’s whisper. If he can get you to give up on God, then the he has accomplished his goal.
That should be our first indication that God isn’t finished with us yet because the devil can’t speak the truth, therefore we should realize that God’s answer is still coming in his own time and in His own way. Just keep on trusting and having faith in God.
Perhaps your prayer seems that it will never be answered. We find ourselves in distress over finances, relationships within the family, and any number of things and it seems that God has turned a deaf ear to your cry. Things have gone from very bad to much worse and now there is no visible way to make things right.
You are wrapped up in doubt and fear. Your faith is blinded; your hands and feet are bound up from working for the Lord. A stone of unbelief has been rolled across the door to your heart and has now convinced you that your attitude, your heart and your life stinks to God so it’s time to quit and walk away. You are shrouded in a tomb of darkness and your spiritual grave is sealed and your life is over and hopeless.
Here are some signs that this sickness is happening. The first thing that happens is that I get stinking thinking. I start the blame game, blaming everything and everyone else for the sin in my life.
I will blame my own lack of spirituality on the church saying that “I can’t feel anything anymore” or that “the Spirit isn’t moving in this church.”
Then I get “excusitis”, and find a multitude of reasons why I can’t or won’t serve the Lord. Then I find it hard or impossible to talk to about the things of God. Next is swelling. I swell up with pride, anger, frustration, or a bad spirit. By now more than likely they have already began to draw back from everyone in the church and to walk away from the place where there is encouragement and hope. My spiritual life is decaying rapidly! Finally I bury myself in my own life, working, kids, home, etc. and it’s as though the church no longer exists for me. The stink of sin is easy to see in my life! The stench of hopelessness and doubt emanates from me and it’s very hard for others to stomach my attitudes when around me. I am sick and dying spiritually and relationally and the stone has been rolled in front of my tomb and sealed.
Why does Jesus let us go so far before he comes? Why must we sometimes get so deep into our trouble and our attitudes begin to stink before he comes to our rescue? Jesus wants us to know that it’s not in our power to overcome our problems and our own sinful hearts. That power must come through “His Resurrection Power” It will come in his time and in his manner. But we must remain hopeful, not bitter. We should be pleasant not stinky.
Jesus arrived in Bethany four days after they’d buried Lazarus. Martha greeted him first, and told him, Lord, if only you had been here YOU could have saved him. And Jesus said: “Lazarus will rise again.” Martha knew enough about Jewish theology to know that one day, all the graves will open and the dead will rise from them. She said: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the dead.”
Martha wouldn’t be comforted, I know about the resurrection — but that’s so far off. Jesus then uttered the basis for all history’s hope and direction – “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!”
What a claim! Jesus claimed to be in charge of everything, life, death, the afterlife and everything between.
Death is the great equalizer in life. We may all have different lives, come from different backgrounds, experience different joys and sorrows, but the one thing that links all mankind together is death. We are all going to die.
Some of the questions that mankind has tried to answer about death are:
Is death the end? Is there life after death? Why is there death? Will we live again?
With Him, Even Death Is Not The End
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
What did Jesus mean? How could His words help Martha in her time of loss? How can the words of Jesus help you in your time of loss? What comfort can Jesus’ words give you, even today, as we say goodbye to loved ones?
Well, Martha knew that things would be better someday. The resurrection, that sweet by-and-by, that hope of seeing her loved one again someday. She had a hope that things would be OK someday. Jesus said, “I am that hope. You’re waiting for the resurrection to give you hope? Well, I am the resurrection. I can give you hope. I am the promise of a better day. I am who you need to get you through this. I am the promise of things being better someday.”
You see Jesus is our hope. He is our only hope of surviving death, because He is in control over it. He is the resurrection. That word means “alive again.” That is, even when life hits us hard, when the scariest thing in the world attacks us, the thing we have no control over, we can trust in Jesus, because He has the power to make us alive again.
And Jesus went on. He said He was the resurrection. Then He said He was the life. Well, what did He mean? By saying that He was the resurrection He meant He is our only hope of surviving death. So, by saying He was the life, He meant that He is our only hope of getting through our days now. He is the hope for tomorrow and the strength for today. He will help us survive death, and He will help us survive life as well. Sometimes life is hard. But Jesus said, “I will help you if you ask.” There is nothing that life throws at you that you and Jesus can’t handle together.
But it requires trust in Him. Jesus continued speaking to Martha: “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” This hope of eternity comes when we place ourselves into God’s hands. But this strength for today comes when we keep placing ourselves into God’s hands. We will remain strong only as we continue to trust in Him.
To comfort the grieving, hurting Martha, Jesus reminded her that He is the lord of the living and the dead. He is master of death and life. You can commit to Him your eternity and your today’s. He is in control of whatever happens to us. And He also wants to remind you that He can give you strength and hope until the day your name appears in the obituaries. I want us to see how Jesus deals with each of our needs in very specific ways.
According to our personalities and needs Jesus meets us differently. In our passage we see Jesus enter the scene and Martha, the same Martha that we read about in Luke 10 that was too busy to sit down and listen to Jesus rushes out to meet Jesus first. She is a go-getter she goes out to meet Jesus and has questions, she raises theological issues, she needs to vent, and she needs some answers. There is no mention of Martha pouring out her soul in His presence. No mention of that happening with Martha but with Mary it was a different story, wasn’t it? For Mary she was more emotional, she was a crier. We will see what Jesus does in the next post.
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