The Raising of Lazarus, Part II, John 11:7-16
We are in the Gospel of John, chapter 11 as we continue our short study of an event in the life of Jesus Christ concerning his friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary.
From the perspective of Martha and Mary their brother Lazarus is sick unto death but from the perspective of Jesus Christ his sickness is but an opportunity to bring glory to His Father.
God’s word continually presses on our mind what our greatest purpose in life is and that is to be about our Father’s business.
Our lives are to be built around the idea that we are here to bring glory to God and we are given to see that example in the life of Christ throughout his ministry while on the earth.
Martha and Mary grieved intensely and wept for their brother Lazarus not wanting in any way to see him leave but we see here in this passage that Jesus Christ, although he deeply loved these three, he knew that bringing glory to his Father was the preeminent thing.
We are to remember this when we are called to go through hard and difficult times perhaps longing for God to bring us relief.
We are to remember that God’s glory is what is important and he, many times does not respond to our pleadings according to our time table but delays his response that the glory of God is apparent.
So Jesus Christ hears the urgent call of Mary and Martha but delays his coming for two days and then after that he saith to his disciples:
John 11:7,8, ……… Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
But Jesus knows that the time was right.
Two days have passed and Christ knows that it is the Father's will that he and his disciples leave the Jordan and go again to Judaea.
Judaea of course is the place of danger and confrontation and the possibility of going there greatly disturbs his disciples.
For them also it is a time of testing and trial.
They well remember the threats against their master.
The Jews just now sought to stone thee, and goest thou thither again, they ask?
The disciples saw no need for again going into the mouth of the lion.
Why not stay east of the Jordan until things cool down, they reasoned?
Their Lord's ways certainly were beyond figuring out.
Again Peter, what did Jesus tell you?
What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Disciples, what does the proverb mean where we are told not to lean to our own understanding?
Oh, how susceptible we are to lean toward that which may only provide one leg of support where two legs are needed.
So Jesus answers their fears in John 11:9,10, …… 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.
Jesus must be about his Father's business, death threats or not.
God has no caveats to his command to go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel!
A work had been given him to do by the Father and that work he would finish!
As he said in John 9:4, I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Jesus was to minister on the earth for a short time and that short time to Christ was all day time regardless of the death threats from the Pharisees and scribes.
Was not He the light of the world?
So in John 11:11-13 Jesus tries to overcome their fears by saying:
…….., 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.
The disciples knew that Jesus was to go to Judea.
He now tells them specifically that he is going to awake "our friend" Lazarus out of sleep.
So he makes it clear that they are at least not returning to Jerusalem but to Bethany.
Jesus Christ knew that Lazarus was dead but he used the term sleep to describe his friend's condition.
Death, he likened to sleep - the death of the body, that is.
We understand sleep, we all try to experience it daily.
Sleep is a temporary state with an end.
There is a rising from sleep to take up living again.
Sleep is harmless and there is nothing to fear, but much to be thankful for, for sleep is a friend and not a foe.
So, for the Christian, it is with death.
Christ has taken the sting from death.
Sleep comes as a welcome relief after the work and trials and sometimes sorrows and suffering of the day.
In sleep we lie down to rise again.
In like manner death is but a sleep and an awakening, a resurrection.
And sleep is a time of rest, the work of the day is over
And likewise so is death for the child of God:
Rev 14:13,tells us ....Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours....
Sleep shuts out the sorrows of life.
We become unconscious of the troubles which so grieve us during the day.
The sleep of the night is welcome relief to the trials and difficulties of the day.
Perhaps the Lord using the word sleep to describe death is to show us that the resurrection is as easy as one who wakes up after a night’s sleep.
To raise the dead will be simpler to him than arousing a sleeper.
And sleep is the time when the body is reinvigorated for the duties of tomorrow.
When the awakened sleeper arises he is refreshed and ready to take on the new day.
In like manner the resurrected believer is given new power.
The mortal bodies’ limitations will no longer exist.
That which is sown in weakness shall be raised in power.
John 11:14, Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
The disciples supposed that Lazarus was recovering.
Jesus knew he was dead. He is God and he is omniscient.
He was not in Bethany but he knew that his friend was already dead and in the tomb.
So he adds in John 11:15, And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
Jesus infers that if he had been in Bethany during the time of Lazarus' sickness, Lazarus would not have died.
He was glad for the sake of the disciples that he was not there so the disciples would believe in him, trust in him as the resurrection.
There is no account given in scripture where someone died in the presence of Christ.
He is the author of life and it was inconsistent that someone should die in his presence.
The Gospels show that whenever Christ came into the presence of death, death at once fled before him.
Even the two thieves on the cross died after Jesus Christ gave up his spirit.
He was glad because now the disciples would witness his glory in the resurrection of a man that had lain dead for four days.
If Christ had been there the inference is that Lazarus would not have died.
If Christ had healed Lazarus from afar Mary and Martha and Lazarus would have been denied a far greater blessing and the disciples would have missed the opportunity to strengthen their faith.
In like manner the whole church down through the ages would have been the loser.
Jesus Christ abode two days east of the Jordan.
How easily we could conclude that he was cold to the needs of Mary and Martha but God's ways are not our ways, are they?
He wants to bless us in the greatest way but so many times we settle for the crumbs that fall off the table.
This mission was always uppermost in his mind.
He meant, I've got a job to do and my time is fixed.
I have twelve hours in a day and I have a given number of days to work.
But I do have twelve hours.
The Father will not cut that short nor will others be allowed to cut that short.
And when I work in the light of the day that the Father has given me I can see the obstacles that are in my way and I am able to get around them without stumbling.
Jesus tells us here that it is impossible for one who is walking with God to stumble and fall because he is walking in the day or the light of the Father.
Those who work in the night stumble because there is no light in them to point out the obstacles.
Jesus must follow the path of the Father's will while life lasts; it may be the eleventh hour of daylight in his life but that is no reason for a faint heart.
My death cannot take place before the Father's appointed time.
There may be those who wish to stone me and kill me but it is daytime.
What are threats against doing God's will?
There are no exceptions and there are no excuses.
There are no conditions to doing God's will.
No dangers are to cause night to fall on our mission and on our cause!
Quit leaning, disciples, it is day.
If you don't follow me and walk in the light with me, staying here east of the Jordan will be staying in darkness.
This is the dangerous place, disciples, for without me ye can do nothing.
We have twelve hours to work just like there were twelve hours yesterday.
God will be glorified if I work today. Isn't that reason enough?
We too have our allotted time.
We must work the work of him who sends us.
We have the opportunity to work in the illumination of God's word, the light of Jesus Christ.
Each of us has a given time to do our life's work and no calamity, no so called accident can shorten it.
No fear of danger must deter us from doing our duty.
The direction we must go is the direction that God's will points regardless of what dangers we may think face us.