Memphis Belle

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John 11:1-57


“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.  (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)  Therefore the sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.  When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.  When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.  Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again.  His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?  Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day?  If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.  But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.  These things he said: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.  Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.  Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.  Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.  Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.  Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off [about two miles away]:  And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother.  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.  Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.  Jesus said unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.  Martha said unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  [Comment: Martha and all the Jews at this time only had the Old Testament Scriptures, so she was not talking doctrinally about the resurrection to Immortality, which no one really had a concept about at this point (1 Corinthians 15 hadn’t been written yet, nor was the salvation Jesus was bringing a really properly understood concept.  So Martha was referring to the only major resurrection prophecied in the Old Testament, the resurrection prophecied in Ezekiel 37:1-14, which cross-references to being one and the same as the one prophecied in Revelation 20:11-12.  The Jews didn’t and never have they thought of the resurrection in Ezekiel 37:1-14 as a resurrection to damnation, nor have they historically taken those verses allegorically, only literally.]  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth shall never die.  Believest thou this?  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ [Messiah], the Son of God, which should come into the world.  And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.  Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met him.  The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she arose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.  Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.  And said, Where have ye laid him?  They said unto him, Lord, come and see.  Jesus wept.  Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!  And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?  Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave.  It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.   Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.  Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.  Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid.  And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.  And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with gravesclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin.  Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.  Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.  But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.  Then gathered the chief priests and Pharisees a council, and said, What do we do?  for this man doeth many miracles.  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away our place and nation.  And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.  And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.  [Interesting prophecy, considering recent finds in early Church history.  See]  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.  Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.  And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.  Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.”  (John 11:1-57)


“Good morning…Before we get started I’d like to, representing my wife, myself and my children, just say thank you to the congregation.  Last month, I guess there’s a pastor’s appreciation day or something like that.  Somebody came up with that idea.  And last month a bunch of you folks decided to kind of just bless my family, and I tell you, it was just overwhelming.  Certainly we don’t deserve it.  And I guess it makes you a little uncomfortable to receive a lot of attention like that, too.  But I just have to say that you, too, just unbelievable what folks have done for us as a family, really, really overwhelming.  And I see God’s hand in it too, the Lord has blessed my family in ways that were needed too, so I just want to say thank you to our congregation.  You guys are really kind.  That’s just the simple truth.  So thank you.  This week, our home fellowships.  I guess we met two weeks ago, there were about 100 people that went to the home fellowships, between adults and kids.  And already some homes are pretty full, but we expect to see them multiply, and it to grow.  And pray about being part of that, if that’s something you are able to do with your schedule.  The men’s retreat is just a couple weeks away.  I hope you can be part of it.  And all the gals present, if you could pray for the men, as they go to the men’s retreat, that God would speak to the guys hearts, and encourage and challenge the men as we’re together.  Last year’s was really an unbelievable time.  Some things to consider too for the future, I think December 1st looks like we have a special night of ministry, this pottery guy, I forget his name [Pam and Mike Rosell].  Santos, who used to be with Charlie Daniels band, I guess will be with us in January, these are some of the things that are coming down, January 8th, so you can pencil some of these things in, and God willing, they’ll take place.  And it looks like a couple missions trips will be taking place this winter too.  At least it’s possible.  Maybe Ukraine in January, possibly India in February, and then maybe Paris and York [England] in the spring.  Those are some things.  We’re a church that has a missions heart, and we want to get back onto, of course we give a lot of our resources, but we also want to get out there and love people.  And I have it on my heart, you know, as we are really just stepping forward in faith with this Orphans and Widows, and giving.  I’d love to see a lot of people in this congregation go some place in the world and hold a child that is even struggling with illness or starvation, and maybe a child in Ukraine that’s addicted to paint, sniffing paint, they’re a lot of hurting kids.  And what would it do to our heart as a congregation if we actually went out and ministered to these kids physically?  Actually helped some of these children and just loved them.  So I hope to see that happen, and something to be praying about.  [And if you can’t get out on mission trips to India or some other foreign places, consider helping out a small Christian orphanage in south India right from your own home.  See]    If you want to go to Israel, if you’re a little goofy, and you want to go to Israel.  I like to go to Israel, been there a couple times, love to go again.  There is, potentially, Calvary Chapels in New England, we went with them last time, there’s a trip forming March 31st.  And God only knows if it’s gonna happen.  I know some of us are pretty radical and would love to go, so keep that in your prayers. 

          Let’s say a word of prayer, as we get started.  ‘Lord we thank you, we thank you for this opportunity to look at your Word here in John chapter 11.  And I just ask you simply, Holy Spirit, that you’d be upon us and speak to our hearts, you’d open our eyes.  Of course the goal of this time, the time we have alone at home, the goal is just to look to you and to see you, repeatedly Jesus we’ve heard you say in the book of John “I am, I am, I am”, and you say to us, “you are all we need.”   And I think of the Psalmist, ‘Whom have I in heaven but you?  And on earth, what do I have besides you?”  So Lord, we pray you’d open our eyes to you.  Holy Spirit be upon all of us, and even upon myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name we pray, Amen.’


What would your response be like?


Well here’s an honest question for you, as we get started, honestly.  Who’s response would be more like yours during a difficult time in your life, a difficult season?  What would your response be more like, two different people here?  Jacob, during a difficult season, this was his response, Genesis 42:36, “All these things are against me!”, that’s what he said.  Hard time, his response, man, ‘this is bad news and all these things are against me!’  Is your response usually more like that, or is it like Paul and Silas?  You remember in Acts chapter 16, these guys had been beaten, these guys are in shackles in an inner prison, maybe even facing death---and what are they doing?---they’re singing and they’re praying, and they’re worshipping God.  So an honest question for you, between you and the Lord, what is your response generally more like?  Is it more like Jacob?---‘man all this stuff is against me, I can’t believe this is happening to me again.’  Or is it like Paul and Silas?—‘Praise the Lord, God you’re good, God I trust you, God you’ve got my life in your hands.’  Whose response is yours more like?  Both of these groups endured difficulty, and clearly there was a difference in their attitude.  And what would mark the difference?---the difference would be marked by faith.  Right?  Faith.  Both going through very hard times, but having a different outlook, a different perspective, and faith is the difference.  And I think, really on earth, one of the greatest things we’ve been given on this earth as Christians is faith.  Faith is such a great thing that God has given to us.  To walk by faith and have an outlook of faith is such a great thing in our lives.  I think that it is one of the greatest things that we’ve been given.  As we look at John chapter 11, this is where we left off two weeks ago, we pick up this week at John chapter 11.  We’re going to see some of God’s kids again suffering and going through some real difficult moments, some traumatic moments.  But not surprisingly, as we go through this chapter, there’s this emphasis on faith.  In fact, eight times as we go through the chapter, the word “believe” is found in one form or another.  So, people suffering, traumatic experience, and emphasis on faith interwoven throughout the passage.  So, as we look at the passage, and we study again, may the Lord increase our faith, so that when we’re done and just growing in the Lord, we’d be more like Paul and Silas.  Man, great to be like that, even on what would seem to be a bummer of a day, singing songs to the Lord, praising the Lord.  The truth is, is you can be like that.  And it’s not to ‘just tune out [of reality] and be weird’, it is to understand who God is.  And we’re going to talk about that as we go through this chapter.  But these people’s experience we’re going to look at here,  there’s also some great little nuggets we can to pull out, and encouragements for us in times of suffering.


Lazarus is sick, dying


So let’s look at chapter 11, verses 1-2, “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.”  So we’ve got committed Christian people here.  [Comment: Speaking of Jewish followers of Jesus the Messiah, the word “Christian” hadn’t even been coined yet.  All believers at this time would have been “Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua haMeshiach.”]  A brother, two sisters, we’re told they’re friends of Jesus as we go on.  Definitely they had a close relationship with Jesus, they are committed Christians [believers in Yeshua, Jesus].  But they are not immune to suffering.  And right now they’re going through a very difficult time, as we see in this passage.  Lazarus is sick.  In fact, he’s so sick, he’s sick in a sense that they’re expecting, or it seems real possible that this man is going to die.  And that’s probably the most heart-wrenching, emotionally struggling difficult time you can go through in life, is having someone close to you suddenly go through and experience where you’re thinking they’re going to die [or knowing they’re going to die.  I went through that with my father, who died of cancer].  Maybe you’ve been there.  That’s a tough time in life.  So these two ladies, and of course Lazarus himself, they are going through a traumatic experience in their lives.  And it’s something though, as we go on, we can learn a lot about, and we can be encouraged through as we have times like this in our own lives.  Now just a side note, we have Mary and Martha.  This Mary is not Mary Magdalene, sometimes we can confuse some of the Mary’s, there’s multiple Mary’s as you go through the Gospels.   This is not Mary Magdalene, nor is this the harlot, you remember that one harlot that used her hair and her tears to wash the feet of Jesus, this is not the same lady.  That occurred earlier. That is not the same lady.  That occurred before.  Although, in verse 2 it says ‘this is the Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair.’ And what is being referred to here is actually in the next chapter.  When John writes this Gospel, of course he’s writing years later [90s+AD], so he knows that Mary at this time is the lady that wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair and anointed him with precious oil.  But that doesn’t actually occur yet, it’ll occur in the next chapter.  So, just a side note, as we go through, that this in not Mary Magdalene, but it’s Mary [sister of Martha and Lazarus], and she seems to be a sociable person, because they call it the town of Mary, maybe he’s saying, I mean, she’s even noted in the community.  They’re evidently affluent and wealthy, you get that sense as far as their influence, and the many people that come and minister to them.  And certainly Mary and Martha have different personalities.  But two women that are in love with Jesus [Yeshua], and the same with their brother, Lazarus.  So, but a difficult time. 


Suffering draws us closer to God, and glorifies God in the end


Verses 3-5, “Therefore the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.’  When Jesus heard that, he said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”  Man there’s a lot of great things we can consider when we go through difficult times, right here in these verses.  Because of Lazarus’s extreme condition, the sisters send for help, they send a messenger to Jesus.  And their message is a bit interesting, if you think about it.  It’s not a direct appeal, they don’t send a messenger to say ‘Hey!  Jesus, come quickly and heal Lazarus!’, or ‘Jesus, say the word, you can do that, say the word and heal Lazarus!’.  They don’t say that at all.  In fact, they just appeal to his heart, really.  They just share with him and inform him, ‘Lord, the one you love, Lazarus, our brother, is sick.’  That’s all they say.  Interesting, the message that they send.  There’s a confidence there, in the love of Christ.  There’s a confidence that he’s going to respond in the best manner in this situation.  Well, in this time of trial, we see the sisters turning to Jesus, turning to God, and it’s a reminder to us that suffering does draw us closer to God.  Simple reminder, we’re reminded all the time, but suffering does draw us closer to the Lord.  And here we see these two ladies, we don’t know what they were doing before, but now that Lazarus was in this situation and there’s such a traumatic thing going on, they quickly go for Jesus.  So there’s a picture of prayer for us too.  There have been many times where I’ve been on the phone with somebody whose in the midst of a real heart-wrenching experience, a hairy ordeal, there’s been many times I’ve maybe sat next to a hospital bed with somebody whose gone through a traumatic experience.  And I hear, you know, things where that statement is often heard.  ‘Man, what a wakeup call for me, this experience.’  And I hear statements, and I see in them now this renewal, to want to know God if they’re not a Christian, or to draw closer to God if they are a Christian.  No doubt about it, suffering, suffering, God uses it to draw us closer to him, and to get our attention more focused upon him.  But we’re also reminded in verse 4, that God allows suffering in our lives in order that he may be glorified.  We saw that earlier in chapter 9, with the man that was born blind.  In fact, Jesus explicitly said that he was going to be glorified through that.  And we see that here in Jesus’ response to the messenger from the two sisters, that this suffering of Lazarus is going to actually in the end be used to the glory of God, that God is going to be glorified through this.  Now Asaph in Psalm chapter 50 shares a similar truth when he records the words of God in Psalm 50.  God says this in verse 15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”  ‘Call upon me in that difficult moment, I will work in your life, and in the end you’re going to glorify me when you see the way I work in and through you.’  That’s what God actually says through the Psalmist there, Asaph in Psalm 50.  Well, no doubt, suffering, suffering, God uses it in our lives to bring him glory.  And this is what’s happening here with these two sisters and with Lazarus.  These two ladies in their difficulty call upon God, call upon Jesus, and he’s going to respond in a way that in the end, he’s going to be glorified.  Well possibly, in your situation today, things that you’re going through, maybe you can take comfort in that this morning.  That God is working in a way, that when he’s done he’s going to be glorified.  That God is also using the hardship that you’re going through to draw you closer to him.  Maybe those are things God wants to remind you of, so that you can even be comforted today, by that.  [The first pastor I ever had as a believer used to teach us, that this may be God’s most effective way to draw us closer to him, but not the most desirable—and that the choice may lie with us, not God.  i.e. If you choose to drift away from God, God may feel it necessary to draw you closer to him with trials.  But you can remedy this by drawing closer to God yourself.  God promises, “Draw closer to me and I’ll draw closer to you.”  Just a thought about this suffering stuff.  The answer may be in your hands, more than God’s.  But as the pastor is bringing out here, the choice may be God’s entirely, he may be working something else out in your suffering.]  Man, there’s been a lot of times in the ministry, these last 8 years, where my wife and I have run out of funds and looked at an empty refrigerator, and drove around in our vehicles when that gas-tank light is on telling you, man, ‘You’re on empty.’  There’s been weeks at a time like that was a full tank, you know, just being able to drive was a miracle.  We’ve seen bills stacked up, and those aren’t easy times, finances are one of those stresses that we can have in our lives.  There’s been times it’s looked dismal from the human point of view.  But God all along has a whole ‘nuther plan, to teach my wife and I certain things.  He’d come through at times, miraculously at the last minute.  There’s been times, multiple times, right as we prayed, “O God, look what’s happening Lord.”  Then right at that moment, a knock on the door, or a phone call, somebody comes up, hands us something.  It’s amazing.  So one moment, maybe there’s the stress and frustration, and then right after, seeing God work in the manner that he did, there’s then this praise, and this worship.  In fact, I can look back and say, I wouldn’t have gone without any of that, to see what the Lord did in and through it.  It was beautiful, how he caused [“allowed”, we’re usually the “cause”] that trial, that hardship, and then he came through and worked.  It was exciting.  You think of the Israelites when they came through the Red Sea.  Man, just before, they were really squirming.  Right?  They were really bumming, man, looking at what was there before them, and what was behind them.  But on the other side when God came through, they were having the biggest worship service.  And it’s true, man.  God brings [allows] suffering [to come] into our lives, and hardship and testing so that he’ll be glorified.  [It also strengthens us as believers, which also glorifies God.]  You never regret seeing what he does in and through you.  So we can take encouragement.  I like the way one author put it.  “It’s not important that we Christians are comfortable, but it is important that we glorify God in all that we do.”  And he hasn’t guaranteed an easy, comfortable life for you.  In fact, that’s probably the worst thing you can have is just comfort all the time, because you often don’t grow.  But he comes in for your own good, and brings hardships so that in the end he can be glorified, in that you can grow.  [i.e. God is glorified by your spiritual growth, just like I said before—and he’s not glorified when your spiritual growth stagnates.]  Now, there’s another point of clarity that we need to make here, verse 4, it says Jesus heard the messenger and he said, “This sickness is not unto death.”  But if you remember the story, and as we go on we’ll see, Lazarus does die.  So is he saying something that’s untrue?  Well, what Jesus is saying there, is ‘This sickness is not unto death in the final sense, death as finality.’  [Comment:  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me, though he were dead, shall live.”]  He does, in a sense, go to sleep [sleep of death, “soul-sleep” as the early Church from the apostles to Irenaeus’s time in 178AD taught and doctrinally believed], he dies for a few days.  But God is going to work, and it’s not a final thing.  So that’s just a point of clarity as we go on.  Lazarus is going to die, but then God is going to do a mighty work, and he’s going to be glorified, that is without a doubt. 


God loves us---God’s love is not a pampering love, it’s a perfecting love


Well not only does suffering draw me closer to God, and not only is God glorified through it, but verse 5 is so beautiful.  Right?  And maybe that’s what one or two of us needed to hear, verse 5 this morning.  “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus.”  It’s possible that they may not have thought that at the moment, although they do indicate “Lazarus the one you loved.”   But sometimes things are happening, and we’re not thinking that God loves us because of what’s happening.  But the truth is, the truth is, as John notes here, Jesus loved Martha, Jesus loved Mary, Jesus loved Lazarus.  And man, we need to keep that perspective.  It is true, you can be absolutely certain, no matter what you’re going through, no matter how difficult it is, heart-wrenching it is, God loves you.  He loves you with a love that is simply unbelievable, incredible.  He loves you with a perfect love.  God is not against you.  Jacob thought God was against him, but God wasn’t against him.  God was getting ready to be glorified in such a great way there in Genesis.  God even brought his salvation through that time of suffering, to Jacob.  But as God’s children, man, as Christians [or Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua] we can be so confident that God loves us, even in the hardest seasons that come our way.  Quoting Charles Spurgeon, “Sickness is no stranger in the homes of the saints.  However much we may be the Lord’s favorites, we can claim no exemption from bodily affliction.  But in our case there’s an aspect full of consolation.  It is sent not as punishment, but as a means of blessing.”  He says suffering is sent, and even sickness,  God sends, really in the end as a means of blessing.  God loves you, you can know it.  Faith will help you take hold of that, even in the difficulty you’re in.  You know, no matter how awful you think maybe you’ve been, no matter what you’ve said or what you’ve done, even today as a child of God, you can be confident that God loves you.  [Look in Genesis 27-28 and see the way Jacob and Rebekah were acting toward Isaac and Esau, stealing his birthright.  God still loved them, in spite of their flaws, and worked in their lives over time to correct the flaws.]  Because he looks at you and he sees his Son Jesus Christ.  He sees you even now standing in the righteousness of Christ.  So he loves you, has precious thoughts towards you.  That is the truth of the Word of God.  No matter what’s happening, even if what’s going on is maybe the result of God’s discipline and you’ve made some silly decision(s) and now you’re really suffering, even then, God says “I love you, I love you, I love you” he says.  This is a promise, this is a truth for all of us.  I like the way another one put it, “God’s love for his own is not a pampering love, it’s a perfecting love.”  And maybe that’s where we really have a difficulty.  We want to be pampered, and I’m not being pampered, and I’m thinking “God, you don’t love me anymore.”  “You know, I’m not being pampered and easily treated.”  We must never think that love and suffering are incompatible.  Certainly they unite in Christ, and they do.  You know, last night I took a break from the studying, and was having dinner with my children and my wife, and I was talking with my little girl, and she turned to me.  Now I’m not sure why she said this, maybe the Lord was just saying it through her so I could say it to you, I don’t know.  But she turned to me and she goes, “Dad, God loves you best.”  [laughter]  And I thought, and said, “Yeah, he does.”  And I said back to her, “And God loves you best too.”  And my son said, “Wait a minute.” [laughter]  But as we went on I said “God loves us all the best.”  So, my daughter, being three, went through “God loves Daddy the best, God loves Mommy the best,” she kept going, “God loves the Church the best”, she just kept going on, but it’s true.  God loves you and I.  He loves us.  He loves us.  And even in that difficult time you’re going through, you can know God loves you, and it’s a perfect love, it’s an incredible love. 


God’s timetable is not always your timetable---but it’s perfect timing nonetheless


Verse 6, “So when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was.”  You know, I hate when that happens, I don’t know about you. [laughter]  I don’t know about you, but when God does this, I don’t like it.  But it reminds us of something, a truth, and it’s important for us to consider and be reminded of.  God’s timetable is not always my timetable.  God’s timetable is not always your timetable.  And that can be a real challenge when you’re in a struggling time and a difficult time.  But God’s timetable doesn’t have to be the same, because God is not bound by time, God is outside of time.  Time makes no difference to God.  It makes a whole lot of difference to us.  You look at the bill, it’s got a date on it, you know.  And you know you’ve got so much time for this.  But God is outside of time, he proved that to me so many times.  And I’ll be honest with you, there’s been times, I’ve gotten serious with God in prayer, and I’ve said “Lord, Lord, listen, be merciful this time, be merciful, I can only handle so much.  I know your timetable is often different, but right now I’m just saying ‘Listen, right now you’ve got to come through, right now.’”  [laughter]  I’ve done that with the Lord.  Because I’ve been there where he’s gone beyond that.  And sometimes he’s been gracious with me, as I’ve just gone on “Please, please, please, now is the time, now is the time.”  And he’s come through a few of those times.  But he’s not confined by time, he’s not bounded by time.  God knows best, that is the truth, and it’s also true that his timing is also best.  It’s absolutely perfect timing.  And it’s possible though at times we’ll be in a situation and struggling, and it’ll appear the exact opposite as true---that God has maybe failed you, God is working against you, because of the whole time thing---you’re thinking ‘This is the time’ and you’ve gone beyond that time.  Well consider the timetable here for these two ladies with Lazarus.  Jesus was at Bara, which is about twenty miles from Bethany, we studied that in the last chapter.  Now they sent a message, their brother is sick, they sent a message to Jesus.  It’s twenty miles, it’s a day’s travel.  So one day goes by, this messenger gets to Jesus.  It’s probably likely, as you put all the timing together, as you go on you’ll see, that when the messenger gets to Jesus, maybe even before the messenger gets to Jesus, Lazarus dies.  And we’ll see as we go on.  So most likely the messenger is on the way, Lazarus dies, the messenger returns now, it’s been two days.  The messenger gets back to the ladies after Lazarus has died.  Then Jesus waits another day, so there’s three days, and then he finally comes to Bethany, and we have the four days as we see, as we go on, that Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days.  So it’s possible, you know, it says he waited two more days, but it’s possible when that message finally gets back to those two ladies, that Lazarus has died.  That’s an interesting thing to consider.  And you know, maybe these ladies, they get this message, now that their brother is dead, I mean it would appear that this is all really bad timing.  But it’s not bad timing.  It’s God’s perfect timing, and God is going to do a tremendous work.  


God can use suffering, testing in our lives, to increase the faith of others around us


Verses 7-16, “Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’  The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone you, and are you going there again?’  Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day?  If anyone walks in the day he does not stumble because he sees the light of this world.  But if one walks in the night, he stumbles because the light is not in him.’  These things he said, and after that he said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’  Then his disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he’ll get well.’  However Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that he was speaking about taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.  And I’m glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe.  Nevertheless let us go to him.’  Then Thomas who was called the twin said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us all go that we may die with him.’”  Strange comment for Thomas to make.  Well these verses here give us another great principle, and that is, God can use our suffering, God can use the testing in our life, in order to increase the faith of other people around us.  And we see that here.  The two ladies are going through this difficult time, yet Jesus is even using it, this whole experience, to work a work in the lives of the disciples.  There are many instances of that in the Bible.  I think of Nebuchadnezzar, I think of some of the kings in the book of Daniel, where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego go through suffering.  Daniel goes through suffering.  And then the end result is the king and others going “Wow, praise be to God, the God of Israel!”  There’s many examples of that in the Scriptures, where God’s people suffer, and as they suffer God is being glorified, and other people around are being ministered to as a result.  And it could be true in your life also.  I was listening to the radio yesterday, and I don’t know if I got the whole story exactly right, but there was an older gentleman sharing a story about one time when he and his wife were in a car accident.  And as he shared the story he said, his wife and himself were rejoicing and praising God because of this car accident.  And he said, “My children thought we were absolutely crazy and out of our minds,” that we were in this pretty bad car accident, it demolished their vehicle essentially, and they’re praising the Lord.  Well then he went on to say why.  And that is, there was a particular lady that had a very hard-hearted husband.  And she was praying, she was a Christian lady, she was praying for her husband, that he would come to Christ.  And as this situation worked its way out, however exactly it did it, they got in this car accident, but because of this car accident they then came in the path of this one couple, and they ended up spending time with them as a result, it was kind of a poor situation.  But this one man who was sharing said he ended up leading this man to Christ.  So because of the car accident this man came to the Lord, which was an answer to years of prayer of this lady.  So he and his wife were able to praise God, that even in that hardship God was glorified and God did a work.  And it’s true.  Maybe that’s what’s happening in your life.  You’re thinking “I don’t understand why this is going on?”  God says, “You wait, you wait, you wait to see what I’m going to do.  I’ve got a plan.  I’m going to touch people’s lives around you.  There are people watching, and I’m using you as an instrument to show my glory, through even right now.”  Well, I think of a story I’ve shared a number of times with pastors.  Recently I shared it on a Sunday morning here.  And I won’t go through it, but I shared how God led me really once not long ago, as a ministry we really ‘stepped outside of the boat’, took a step of faith, where I could have made a financial mess out of the church, if I wasn’t listening to the Lord.  But I felt the Lord was listening to us.  We would have been tens of thousands of dollars behind and a real financial wreck.  But I felt the Lord was leading me, and you can get that tape and get the details, I won’t go through it.  And God miraculously, I began to really squirm and have a tough time, as God was testing with his whole timetable, but eventually God came through, and he worked.  And the response was, I was shoutin’ to the Lord, Praise God!  If you remember the story, I’ve shared that story a number of times, I’ve been with pastors, and as we’ve talked about faith and whatever, and God testing, I’ve shared that story.  And I’ve almost heard that consistently, there are other pastors that have taken that story and shared it with their congregation, that have then emailed me and said, “Man, my church was so blessed by that story.”  I’ve had pastors repeatedly tell me that.  “I’m going to share that with my church, that is a great story.”  But it was an uncomfortable experience to go through, for a little while there.  In fact, it was kind of hairy for me.  But yet the Lord was working for a purpose.  And now he’s done this thing, and man, it blesses people to hear the story.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be used like that.  I don’t like it when it’s happening.  I sure do love it when it’s over.  But I want the Lord to use me, and be glorified through me.  I say “God, here I am.” 



Hard times cause our faith to grow


Verses 17-22, “Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave for four days already.  Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.  Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”  Jesus finally gets again to Bethany, and Lazarus has been in the tomb now four days.  It was the custom, the Jewish custom, that when a person died they would be buried that very day.  So he’s been in the tomb four days, it seems again likely the messenger came to Jesus the day that Lazarus died.  Well Martha hears that Jesus is coming, as you see in verse 20, and there in Bethany which is on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives, if you’re in that part of Jerusalem, man, you can see out, it’s a beautiful view, you can see out to the Dead Sea, you can see out to the desert (Negev) and you can see out down the Old Jericho Road too.  So she hears that Jesus is coming, and maybe can far off see a little band of people, so she goes out to meet him.  When she gets there she says to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, man, I’ve seen you heal so many people, and if you would have been here, I know you could have healed my brother, I do believe it.  You could have prevented him from dying.’  But she doesn’t stop, she says, ‘But even right now, I know that whatever you ask God, whatever you ask him, he’ll do.  You can even do something even now.’  That is really a beautiful truth, and there’s another truth for us here about suffering and hardship that comes into our lives, and that is, hard times cause our faith to grow.  Hard times causes our faith to grow.  And you see that happening here.  She’s wrestling with a certain truth.  Now if the messenger came back to her and her sister after Lazarus has died, the message was “This sickness was not unto death, this is all for the glory of God.”  They’re going to have to wrestle with that message.  Lazarus is dead.  So they’ve been wrestling with it, evidently.  And she’s been wrestling with his statement “this is not unto death.”  There he is, he’s dead, we’ve put him in the tomb.  ‘Is he saying he’s going to do something else?  Is he saying he can do something else?’  Evidently, she’s been wrestling with that, and she says that, and shares that with Jesus.  “I know that even now”---I mean, just imagine, your friend has been dead for four days, and actually saying, and she says it confidently, she says ‘I know that you can even do something right now, when he’s been dead for four days.’  Paul shares in Romans chapter 5 about tribulation, he says “that we can glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope, and that hope is faith.  “Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).  And tribulation and heartache and hardship God does use to build us up, and to increase our faith.  And that is what we see happening here in Martha’s and Mary’s lives.  One preacher put it this way, “Anything which helps our faith is a blessing for which to thank God.”  Man, if God is going to bring tribulation to make you grow, it’s a blessing, praise God, that in the end you’re going to be stronger in faith.  And what a tremendous thing that God gives us, faith.  Faith is being sure, it isn’t like this thing we make up, it’s being certain that God can and will do what he said, and you walk in such confidence, and boldness, and peace when there’s that faith, that surety in your heart.  So it’s great when the Lord brings things into our lives to build our faith.  Well, that message that Jesus would then share with Lazarus’s sisters, would be saying to them, ‘Trust me for my word, things may look dismal right now, but trust me for my word.  Trust in me.’  And so Martha then has to struggle and wrestle through that. 


As the Son of God it is absolutely vital that he can raise the dead,




It’s through times of suffering that we grow in our understanding of Christ


But here’s another truth too.  If Jesus can’t raise Lazarus from the dead, if he can’t raise people from the dead [and he already has, two or three times before this event], then anything else he does really doesn’t amount to anything, according to the Scriptures.  As the Son of God it is absolutely vital that he can raise the dead.  It’s vital.  Remember Paul said in 1st Corinthians 15 , “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”  But it’s the fact that he can raise the dead, and that gives us hope, and that makes all the difference.  [see  and for a full treatment of this vital subject on eternal life.]  Well Jesus said to her, verses 23-27, “‘Your brother will rise again.’  Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’”  That’s a great confidence to have.  “And Jesus said to her, ‘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?’  She says to him, ‘Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God whose come into the world.’”  This is the fifth I AM statement that Jesus shares.  You remember “I am the door, I am the good shepherd.”  Now he says here “I am the resurrection and the life.”  And this point here that he now shares with Martha, it’s another point for us to ponder about suffering.  And that is, it’s through times of suffering that we grow in our understanding of Christ.  It’s through times of hardship that we grow, those times of testing, that we grow in our understanding of Christ.  You remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.  It was in the fire that they saw Jesus [cf. read all of Daniel 3].  It wasn’t outside the fire that they saw Jesus, it was when they were in the fire that they saw Jesus.  And you know Nebuchadnezzar looked in and said “Who’s that guy whose all shiny, there’s four, what’s going on?”  And it was the Messiah, Christ himself.  But it was in the fire that they saw the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, there in the fire, in the midst of the heat and the trial and tribulation.  And it is true, and as even in my opening prayer I mentioned Psalm 73, you know, Asaph has a struggling time in Psalm 73, he looks at the world, he looks at the prosperity of the wicked, he’s struggling trying to follow God and to be a righteous man, there’s an emotional battle.  He’s almost ready to stumble and fall and give it all up, and he says ‘I went into the temple, and I looked upon the Lord, and I just got the right perspective again of faith.  I know where that’s going, and even though it’s hard right now, I know where it’s going.’  And then he responds as he does, he says “Whom have I in heaven but you.  But there is none upon earth that I desire besides you.”  And suffering brings us to that point where we have a greater understanding of who Christ is, as he’s glorified there in the midst of it, as he ministers to us.  Man, our eyes are opened all the more to who God is in our lives, what he wants to do in and through us.  And that is sweet.  And the response is, “Man, Jesus, it’s all about you.”  So that leads us to the next point, the ultimate goal of God’s testing.


The ultimate goal of God’s testing, it’s simply Him, it’s all about Him.


And in the midst of this that’s what you see, Jesus says “It’s all about me,” he says “I am the resurrection and the life.”  He doesn’t share theology [he leaves that to the apostle Paul to bring that out in God’s Word, interestingly enough], because Martha doesn’t really need theology at this point.  What she needs is God and the power of God.  She needs a Savior, she needs the touch of God, and that’s what he says, he says ‘I am  the resurrection, and I am the life, it’s all about me, it’s all about me.  And I am the Savior, I can deliver life, and it’s true, I’m your hope, I’m all you need.’  And that’s what Jesus is working in your life, God is working in your life.  You’re maybe going through a hard time, and he’s trying to remind you again, “I am all that you need, I am all that you need.”  You have this financial hardship, he’s saying “I am all that you need, I am the bread of life, I am the Manna” he said earlier.  You’re going through a stressing time, and he wants you to know that he is your peace, he is your peace [Hebrew: Shalom], he is your hope, he’s working in your life,  bringing these things.  Drawing you closer to him, that you’ll realize it is simply all about him.  I like that worship song we sing once in a while, we have it on the radio too, it’s “It’s all about you, Jesus.  It’s all about you, Jesus, It’s all about you, Jesus.”  So he said “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live”, referring to the resurrection, the life after death.  “But whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”  “Do you believe this?” he says.  So the question to you this morning is: “Do you believe this?”  Jesus says “I am, me, the person, the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me shall never die.”  And if he does die physically, he’ll have eternal life….and if he lives, he shall never die.  And it’s true, there’s going to be a time, and we see a little bit of it here, Jesus is going to call out, and this guy is going to be raised from the dead.  And there is going to be a time where the Trumpet is going to sound, the voice of the Lord is going to come forth, and there will be people who haven’t even died physically yet, and they’re going to go and be with the Lord forever [they as Paul brings out in 1st Corinthians 15:49-54, they will be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, changed into immortal beings, right after those that have died in Christ have been resurrected to immortality.  This occurs at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ to set up the Millennial Kingdom of God on earth.  See for a more complete treatment of this subject.]  But he says “I am the resurrection and the life.”  And if there’s no resurrection, Paul said, man, go eat, drink and be merry, if this is it man, just party to the max, just get all goofy, because there’s no hope.  [Why do you think that is the lifestyle of those in the world?  Simply because they have no real hope for eternal life.  They firmly believe, because they don’t believe in God, that this life is it, that’s all she wrote, so enjoy life to the max today, for tomorrow we die, and that’s it, man.]  But the Bible says there is hope, and Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life”, ‘and I raise the dead.’  And he’s going to do that to us also.  Well he says “He who lives and believes in me shall never die”, that’s a double-negative, that’s really emphatic.  “He who believes in me shall never die”, it’s emphatic.  But the question to you this morning, “Do you believe this?  Do you believe this?  Are you willing to believe this?”  Martha says “Yes Lord, I believe, I believe that you are the Christ, I believe that you are the Son of God whose come into the world.” (verse 27)  In the Greek, those words are in the perfect tense, so there’s an indication that this is fixed and it’s settled.  So she says “I have believed, and I will continue to believe.”  That’s how she responds.  “I do believe this, that you are the resurrection and the life.”  That’s how she responds, ‘that you are the Christ, that you are the Son of God.’   Those two often go together, as you see.  People will say that.  ‘We believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, meaning God the Son, whose come into the world.’ 


One teaspoon of tears


Verses 28-32, “And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, ‘The Teacher has come and is calling for you.’  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met him.  And the Jews who were with her in the house and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, ‘She is going to the tomb to weep there.’”  So Martha comes, they don’t know what she says to Mary, but she says “Jesus wants to meet with you, he’s come.”  So Mary heads out, and the rest are wondering why she’s leaving, they think she’s going to go mourn at the tomb.  “And when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you’d been here my brother would not have died.’”  Evidently Martha and Mary have been saying this.  ‘Man, if you’d just have gotten here he wouldn’t have died’, because she says the same thing Martha says to Jesus, ‘If you had just been here, you could have prevented him from dying.’  But she falls at his feet.  And then an interesting thing about Mary, we see her three times in the Scriptures, and each time she’s at the feet of Jesus.  This is a woman that worships the Lord.  This is a woman of just emotion and praise for the Lord.  In fact, this is the only time we have any of her words recorded, is right here.  Well “when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, “he groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (verse 33).  That word “groaned” in the Greek is in the first aorist indicative, and the word means “To snort with anger like a horse.”  So there’s a lot of emotion there.  When it says “he groaned in the spirit”, there is a lot of indignation and emotion there.  “And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’  They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’” (verse 34)  And then we have the shortest verse in the Bible, and some say the most powerful verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.”  (verse 35)  “Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’”  That is a beautiful Scripture.  That is a great encouragement for you and I, that is for sure.  When I read that, I’m reminded that in my difficulties, my hardships and my suffering, I know that Jesus knows my pain.  And why is he weeping?  I believe he’s weeping, and there’s this indignation, there’s this emotion, because of coarse he loves us, and the curse of sin and the fruit of sin, and all the heartache it brings, and the fact that Mary and Martha have just been experiencing such pain.  He knows that pain.  So it says he wept.  And then the onlookers said, ‘Wow, look at how he loved Lazarus.’  And maybe they’re misunderstanding, because he knows he’s going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  I think more than anything he’s weeping because of the pain that people have experienced.  And you can know that Jesus knows your pain.  He is our High Priest, he’s been tempted in every way that we’ve been tempted, and we’re told that he knows how to relate to us.  [See and read Hebrews 4:14-16.]  And he knows what you’re going through.  He’s not some god like in some of the other ancient Greek religions and whatever, as we’re taught they were just indifferent, and he just made the world and it was out there, and we were just to do our own thing.  He is a very personal God, he knows right what you’re going through.  If you have pain in your life, the truth is, he knows your pain.  He knows your pain.  And that’s why we see him weeping here.  I think at times, when there’s these kids in other countries that are living in gutters, being abused by people, I know that God must grieve, and he must weep, because that’s his heart.  [Log onto and to see what Jesus must really be weeping about in today’s “modern age.”]   God loves, he loves incredibly.  And he knows our pain.  He knows your pain, that’s for sure.  But he’s an example to me too, Jesus weeps.  He’s broken because others are broken.  And that says to me, man, that’s the way I should be too.  I shouldn’t be so stoic and stern, and so macho, you know.  But tears man.  The word there for “wept” is the only word used in the New Testament, it is the verb form of the Greek word for “tears”.  So literally it means that tears were running down Jesus’ face.  There was overflowing tears.  Now he wasn’t bawling really loud, either.  There’s different Greek words for that, but there were tears streaming down his face.  And Jesus shed tears, and what an example to me.  And interesting, tears contain salt, and they have salt in them to care for and protect our eyes, to protect and comfort our eyes.  And then when you think of salt in the Scripture, we’re told that we’re to be salty, you know, salty Christians, the salt of the earth.  You think that being salty is going out there and being convicting and getting the whip out, ‘You guys straighten up’, you know, and things like that.  But shedding tears, man, is salt.  Showing compassion is purifying.  That’s one of the most powerful things we can do.  I think of this last Thursday, it was great, having that outreach, seeing all those kids, and we tripped some people out, man, we just gave all kinds of stuff away.  I mean, they’re walking away with designer bags, soccer balls and pumps, full big chocolate bars, and having free hot dogs.  Some of the people couldn’t believe it, they were tripping out.  People were trying to give money, but this is free.  ‘We just want to love you.  God loves you.’  That’s some of the greatest things we can do, is just love people.  [One of the international evangelistic organizations that serves like a Christian version of C.A.R.E. is Samaritan’s Purse, see , or if you want to help a needy Christian orphanage in south India, see (scroll through the file to see the kids).]  It’s just love people.  Jesus wept, Jesus wept because he loved, and he had compassion.  And if we want to make a great difference in our community and around here man, [or around the world] it’s all the more, Lord, give me those tears, man, give me a heart of compassion.  We’re told that one teaspoon of tears has enough antiseptic power to kill all the germs in 100 gallons of water.  So hey, some tears in our local community would be good, man, because the water doesn’t taste very good here. [laughter] 


Lazarus is raised from the dead!


So the Jews said “Look how he loved him.  And some of them said, ‘Could not this man who opened the eyes of the blind also have kept this man from dying?’” (verses 36-37)  They also believe that he’s powerful.  “And Jesus again groaning in himself came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’…This woman’s wrestling, she wrestling.  “…Martha, the sister of him who was dead said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there is the stench…” or the King James says “he stinketh” is what it says.  “…for he has been dead four days.’”  Bad news, you don’t want to move that stone.’  She said, “You can do anything”, but then she’s going back, she’s struggling through this whole thing.  “Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’”  Maybe he’s saying that to you today.  “And they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying, and Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father I thank you that you have heard me, I know that you always hear me, but because of the people that were standing by I said this, that they may believe that you sent me.’” (verses 38-42)  So he prays out loud.  He doesn’t often pray publicly, but he does right now, so that they understand, so that they can all appreciate and see the glory of God in what’s about to happen.  “And when he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice, ‘LAZARUS, COME FORTH!’”  And an old Puritan commentator said ‘Good thing he said Lazarus at this point, if he had just said “Come forth!”’…man, I mean, just in saying this, the graves must have trembled everywhere.  Good thing he said “Lazarus” so all the other tombs knew what [laughter].  “And he who had died came out, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him and let him go.’” (verses 43-44)  Just imagine, you know, you think of Veggie Tales, this guy’s all wrapped up.  And how could he even walk?  Did he hop up and down.  It’s a funny picture.  But it’s a powerful picture.  He’s been dead four days, and Jesus said with a loud voice, same word when he was on the cross, loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”  It just shook the heavens and everyone heard it, and out came this man who had been dead four days.  And we read in verse 45, “And many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in him.”  And there’s now a multitude that follows, because they’re just blown away by what he’s just done.  He’s raised a dead man. 


Hard hearts won’t believe even when they see miracles


“But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.” (verse 46)  Some believed, I mean, saw it, understood it, but yet they aren’t exercising faith, so they actually work against him.  “And the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a counsel and said, ‘What shall we do, for this man works many signs.’” (verse 47)  Even they don’t deny it.  ‘If we let him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take both our place and nation.’”  (verse 48)  I mean, they’re concerned about themselves and their position, that’s what they’re concerned with.  “And one of them, Caiaphas [he was the high priest from 18AD to 36AD, son of Annus] being high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’” (verses 49-50)  His point is, better to get this guy and let him die than this whole nation to go and perish at the hands of the Romans.  But what he says, he doesn’t realize, is actually spiritually prophetic.  “And this he spoke not of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation, and not only for that nation only, but also that he would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.’  And then from that day on they plotted to put him to death.  Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim [that’s about fifteen miles from Jerusalem] and there remained with his disciples.”  (verses 51-54)  [Comment: that prophecy “but also that he would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” was directly fulfilled in Paul’s mission to the Jews as he evangelized throughout the synagogues in Asia Minor and even Greece.  See for astounding proof of this fulfillment of the high priest’s prophecy.  When the high priest said “people of God” he in his mind was referring to the Jews in the Diaspora, and for the first 250 years of Church history it was, even though it would end up referring to believers in Jesus throughout all ages.]  But as John notes, the high priest says these things, he prophesied, in verse 51, that Jesus would die for the nation.  “Now this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest, that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.”  He spoke of a certain truth he understood, but then in reality he was prophesying that Jesus would indeed die, and that he would save many through his death, not only that, but people from all around the world that will believe in him, will find life in Christ.  Well, because of this, now he does stay away, because they want to put him to death.  We’re told in verses 55-57, “And the passover of the Jews was near and many went from the country to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.  Then they sought Jesus and spoke among themselves, as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think, that he will not come to the feast?’  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command that if anyone knew where he was, he should report it, that they might seize him.”   Well, they’re ready to get him now, and they’ve got a plan, and we’re now within a month [actually the last six days before Jesus’ crucifixion, which will take place at this Passover.]  or less of when Christ is going to go to the cross.  And it’s now, people are coming, preparing for the time of Passover.  We’re told from the Jewish historian Josephus, based on the recordings, historical recordings, there were 250,000 sheep slaughtered in the temple during Passover that year.  And then using a little bit of math, that a lamb was sacrificed for a household and the extended relatives, the average family being about ten people, there would be about two and a half million people that came at this time to the city of Jerusalem for Passover.  So, let’s pray…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on John 11:1-57, given somewhere in New England.] 


To read a complete account of the last six days of Jesus’ life leading up to his crucifixion, log onto:  It is an especially good study to read as the Passover/Easter season approaches.

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