Oh grave where is thy victory. 1Corinthians 15:55
Death Is An Unexpected Event According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Death. He told the grim reaper that he would willingly accompany him when it came time to die, but only on one condition--that Death would send a messenger well in advance to warn him. The agreement was made. Weeks winged away into months, and months into years. Then one Bitter winter evening, as the man sat alone thinking about all his material possessions, Death suddenly entered the Room and tapped him on the shoulder.
The man was startled and cried out in despair, "You're here so soon and without warning! I thought we had an agreement." Death replied, "I've more than kept my part. I've sent you many messengers. Look at yourself in the mirror and you'll see some of them." As the man complied, Death whispered, "Notice your hair! Once it was full and black, now it is thin and white. Look at the way you cock your head to listen to my voice because you can't hear very well. Observe how close you must get to the mirror in order to see yourself clearly. I've sent many messengers through the years. I'm sorry you're not ready for me, but the time has come to leave."
Is your fear of dying robbing your joy of living? Jesus came to "deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying" (Heb. 2:15).
Death is getting steadily closer to you every minute of every day. Someone has mathematically calculated a schedule that compares the average lifetime with a single day, beginning at 7 a.m.
If your age is: 15, the time is 10:25 a.m. 25, the time is 12:42 p.m. 35, the time is 3:00 p.m. 45, the time is 5:16 p.m. 55, the time is 7:34 p.m. 65, the time is 9:55 p.m. 70, the time is 11:00 p.m. Please notice that it is always later than you think it is!)
A mother was answering her young daughter's questions about her daddy's death. "God sent for him," she explains. "And someday He will send for you and me. Nobody knows just when." Thinking about that for a moment, the child said, "Momma, if we don't know for sure when God is going to send for us, we might not be ready. We'd better start packing!" She was right. No one knows when God is going to "send for us," but we do know how to wait for that day. Whether He calls us through death (Psalm 23:4) or when Christ returns to take us home (1 Thess. 4:17), we should always be ready.
Do not be guilty of letting death sneak up on you and catch you unprepared. There is a great need for being ready, and there is no excuse for not being ready - Pro. 27:1; James 4:14. No time outs!
In this lesson, Lazarus becomes the “critical man” to John’s thesis “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” John 20:31 Not only was he criticallyill, he is also critical because he's going to manifest the glory of God. He is critical because he's going to strengthen the testimony of doubting disciples. He is critical because he is going to provide the object for a miracle that leads to the cross.
1-3 A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord’s feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.”
Jesus spent many hours resting from the terrible pressure of all that He faced in Jerusalem at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Jesus loved them in a deep and genuine way. And they loved Him the same way.
the concerned sisters v3 1. When death began to threaten, Mary and Martha immediately thought of Jesus. In their message to Jesus, they did not include a request for Him to come to Bethany, they knew that wasn’t necessary.
C.F. Andrews tells of two friends who served together in the First World War. One of them was wounded and left lying helpless and in pain in no-man’s land. The other, at peril of his life, crawled out to help his friend; and, when he reached him, the wounded man looked up and said simply: “I knew you would come.”
Truth: Human need brings Jesus to our side. Immanuel— “God With Us”
2. Mary and Martha went right to the source. They didn't fool around, they knew where to go. When the people were murmuring in the wilderness, the Bible says Moses went and cried before the Lord. He didn't call a committee, he didn’t call his friends, he simply told the Lord. I wonder if we do that?
Truth: God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble - Psalm 46:1.
verse 3,“Master, the one you love so very much is sick.” This simple statement doesn't ask the Lord to do anything. It's a surrender of love. It just says, “Here's my need, Lord. I'm just going to leave it with You.” How do we approach God with our problems?
Truth: Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries - 1 Peter 5:7 (The Voice).
verse 3,“Master, the one you love so very much is sick.” They don't say, “Lord, You know that guy that really loves You, he's sick.” Instead they say, "Lord, You know the one You love, he's sick." If Christ operated in our lives on the basis of our love for Him, we would be in sad shape because our love is inconsistent and is very self‑centered.
Truth: Jesus is not motivated to come to our aid because we love Him; He helps us because of His unconditional love. So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely Nothing - Romans 8:35-39
4 When Jesus got the message, he said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.” That’s not an easy assignment to swallow. Think back a couple of weeks:
As He [Jesus] passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:1-3)
Born blind. A lifetime of darkness. Never saw a mother smile or a sunset fade. Who did this? the disciples wondered, anxious to blame someone. Such a bad plight can be traced back to a bad deed. Right?
Wrong, Jesus replied. Don't search the family tree. Don't request a copy of the man's rap sheet. Blame this blindness on a call from God. Why was the man sightless? So "the works of God might be displayed in him."
Odds are, he would have preferred another role in the human drama. Compared to others, the blind man’s assignment held little glamour, i.e. "Mary, be a mother to my son.“ "Peter, you'll be my first preacher.“ "Matthew, the first gospel? It's all yours.“
Then God turns to this man, “And you?” “Yes, Lord?” “You'll be blind for my glory.” “I'll be blind?” “Yes.” “For your glory?” “Yes.” “But I don't understand.” “You'll see.”
The blind man wasn't the only candidate for a complaint. Consider the case of Martha and Mary. Personal friends of Jesus. He stayed at their house and ate at their table. And when their brother, Lazarus, became ill, the sisters blitzed a message to Jesus. If the Nazarene would heal anyone, it would be Lazarus.
Wrong again. “But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it’” (John 11:4). Feverish, clammy, knocking on the door of death-why? Because he ate the wrong food? Didn't guard his health? Drank too much? None of these. He was sick for the sake of God.
Have you ever considered that your pain, problems, struggles, heartaches, and hassles may have a purpose and cooperate toward one end--the glory of God. “Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory” (Psalm 50:15 NLT).
Death may happen but death isn't the end result. The end result is the glory of God. Even today somebody might get sick, God may heal him so we can give Him glory. Other times, somebody gets sick and God doesn't heal them but still gets the glory because suffering often produces a stronger servant.
5-7 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
Can you imagine love on the basis of time? “God, You have 20 minutes to fulfill my need...” 20 minutes pass with no response…. “Oh, God doesn't love me, God doesn't care.” Love can’t be measured on the basis of time. Jesus knew the delay would bring more glory to God, more joy and faith to the lives of Mary, Martha and the Disciples, more fantastic testimony to the people around. The delay was important.
God loves us so much He may make us wait for something much better than we ever dreamed we were going to get in the beginning. The Lord knows what's best and He knows the right time. We often want to run ahead of God because He doesn't seem to be working fast enough for us.
Truth: God often makes us wait before His love becomes visible. Godtakes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones. Isaiah 30:18
When we pray about something, do we believe that God will answer. Do we give Him time to respond according to His plan. Do you remember ever remember getting impatient while waiting for an answer only discovered it was actually a blessing that your prayer wasn't answered when and how you had expected? Psalm 37:5 says, "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him ...."
7b“Let’s go back to Judea.” 8 They said, “Rabbi, you can’t do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you’re going back?” In John 10:42it states"Many believed." The disciples thought, you know we've got a good thing going. Let's get this ministry built up, Lord. No sense in going back to Jerusalem and getting stoned, that's ridiculous. Lazarus isn't even sick enough to die. Jesus, himself, said that his illness wasn’t fatal.
9-10 Jesus replied, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in daylight doesn’t stumble because there’s plenty of light from the sun. Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can’t see where he’s going.”
To the Hebrews, every day was arranged around 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. Jesus was telling His disciples, "Don't you realize that a day can't finish until it's over with? God has prescribed the bounds of My life. By all your concern for My safety, you can't lengthen it for the same reason the rejection of the Jewish leaders can't shorten it.
God has also set the boundary on our lifetime; we'll not live a minute after or die a minute sooner. If a man is serving God, he must utilize the prescribed bounds that God has allotted for him.
For the unsaved, this message is crucial. You can put off paying taxes, changing your oil, but the unbeliever needs to realize that time is extended for no man. God has set boundaries on our lives too. There's just enough time to receive Christ, but no time to spare.
11 He said these things, and then announced, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.” 12-13 The disciples said, “Master, if he’s gone to sleep, he’ll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.” Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap. 14-15 Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.” 16 That’s when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, “Come along. We might as well die with him.”
Gilbert Frankau tells of an officer friend of his in the 1914-1918 war, an artillery observation officer. His duty was to go up in a captive balloon and to indicate to the gunners whether their shells fell short of or over the target. Because the balloon was captive, there was no way to dodge; he was a sitting target for the guns and planes of the enemy. His friend said, “Every time I go up in that balloon I am sick with nerves, but I won’t quit.”
That is the highest form of courage. It does not mean not being afraid. If we are not afraid it is the easiest thing in the world to do. Real courage means being perfectly aware of the worst that can happen, being sickeningly afraid of it, and yet doing the right thing. That was what Thomas was like that day.
Are we as willing to die for Christ as Thomas was? Most of us haven't even been willing to live for Him. Most of us live for ourselves--for pleasure, possessions, or physical cravings.
17-20 When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.
21Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” She had confidence in Christ, yet she limited His power. She believed no illness could kill her brother when Jesus was there, but once her brother died, she thought even Jesus couldn't change that.
How full is our faith? Too often we are like Martha. We may claim to believe the Lord, but then walk around like we're not too sure. We say, "Lord, I know all things work together for good, so I trust You," yet we doubt and are filled with anxiety. It's easy to trust God when everything is going well. Our faith can be very practical as long as we're not in a situation that is out of our control. When we really have to trust God, we find out the measurement of our faith.