Hope In Our Hopelessness, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

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11Oct  In yesterday’s blog we began to look at what Jesus said in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

Jesus didn’t speak these amazing and astonishing words

During a lecture in philosophy.

He didn’t write them in a book of poetry.

He spoke them in “the real world –

A world filled with “death and sorrow,”

And to people just like you and me

– People who lived, and worked, and

Enjoyed being with their loved ones;

People whose lives were suddenly

And abruptly interrupted

By the great enemy of death.

He spoke those words in the context of real sorrow; in the hearing of real people who were feeling the painful loss of someone that they loved.  He spoke those words to people whose souls were starving for the hope of eternity.  He spoke those words of victorious hope in order to give an answer to the loss felt by real, hurting people like us.

The Bible tells us in John 11 that Lazarus became gravely sick.  Jesus was several days’ journey away at the time; and Lazarus’ two sisters sent a messenger to Jesus to tell Him, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11:3).  They believed that Lazarus was about to die; and they expected that Jesus – who had healed so many sick people – would come right away and heal His dear friend.

But the amazing thing is that Jesus didn’t come.  Instead, He sent the messenger back with the strange message, “This sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (verse 4).  And then, Jesus stayed right were He was for two more days.

Finally, after two days, Jesus suddenly told His disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”  He told them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up” (verse 11).  Perhaps it was because His disciples remembered that He had said that the sickness wasn’t unto death; but for whatever reason, they didn’t understand.  They said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.”   They thought it would be a little like going to wake Lazarus up to give him his medicine!

It was then that Jesus said something very remarkable

– Something that would be astonishing

To hear from a friend.

He said, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad . . .” 

Taken by itself, what an odd thing to say!

But that’s not all Jesus said.

What He goes on to say indicated

His sovereign purpose

In all that was going on.

He said, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe.  Nevertheless, let us go to him” (verses 14-15).

By the way; do you notice a continual theme in all this?  Jesus kept letting everyone know that there was a purpose in the sickness of Lazarus – and even in his death. Jesus asserted that it was for “that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (verse 4), and “so that you may believe” (verse 15).

Jesus was testifying that God was going

To demonstrate something significant

About Jesus in the events

That were about to take place.

If I may pause here for a moment; there’s a lesson for us in that.

Sometimes, the things that seem

So tragic and pointless to us

Are, in reality, the appointed means

That our sovereign God

Uses to demonstrate the greatness

Of His wonderful Son, Jesus.

It may seem to us at such times that God isn’t listening to our prayers, or that He’s being insensitive and uncaring toward us – making us wait for no reason; when in reality, God is waiting for just the right moment to display His grace and glory to us during those times of trial.

Such was certainly the case here; and I suspect such is very often the case for us – without our realizing it – in some of the difficulties and trials we face in life.

We should learn to trust Him,

Wait on His perfect timing,

And

Watch for the display of

His glorious grace and power.

As Jesus says later in this passage, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (verse 40).

And so, Jesus and His disciples made their way to Bethany.  And when they arrived a few days later, they found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Many of the people from the city of Jerusalem had come to comfort Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother.  And perhaps we aren’t too surprised to find that, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, Martha couldn’t even sit still and wait for Him to arrive.  She left Mary sitting at the house and ran off to meet Jesus on the road.

Martha, no doubt, remembered what Jesus said – that “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (verse 4).  And as Jesus drew near, I believe she felt a mix of emotions all at once . . .

  • Comfort at Jesus’ presence;
  • Grief over her brother’s death;
  • Disappointment because of Jesus’ delay;
  • Confusion about His promise;
  • And – with it all – hope over what He might even still be able to do for her brother.

I can’t help but picture her in tears as she said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (verse 22).  I also imagine Jesus being very tender toward her.  I can imagine Jesus holding her by the shoulders, looking gently into her eyes, and saying, “Your brother will rise again” (verse 23).

Martha didn’t really understand what Jesus meant by those words.  She thought He was simply saying one of those kinds of things that people say at such times when they just don’t know what else to say.  And even though I believe her heart sank in despair for a moment, she wiped her tears away, nodded, and said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (verse 24).  Yes, Martha thought; Lazarus will “rise” on that great day – just as the Scriptures that all Jewish people read had promised.  Martha was being what she always was: “practical.”

Martha was right to believe

That Lazarus would be resurrected.

But what she didn’t understand was

That the only One who had

The power to fulfill

The promise of the Scripture

And raise the dead –

Whether on the last day,

Or right then,

Or at any other time

 – Was standing right before her.

She thought that “the resurrection” was – somehow – some independent event . . .

And yet, Jesus asserted to her

That the resurrection was

Inseparable from Himself.

Still looking her in the eyes, it’s then that Jesus uttered those important words; “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  And she said to Him, “Yes, Lord. I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (verses 25-27).

And before we go on, I’d like to suggest to you that . . .

That is the main point that this story

Jesus is seeking to bring home to us.

On another occasion, Jesus said, in John 5:25-29, “Most assuredly I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.  Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

Let that sink in.

The resurrection is not

Just an event.

It is a Person.

Jesus is the Son of God.

All authority rests in Him.

“Resurrection” is His initiative.

The great hope we are to have is never to be seen as something that is somehow distinct from Him; because He Himself IS “the resurrection and the life.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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