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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

Lessons From Lazarus - March 4, 2005


John Chapter Eleven

Sermon of the Week #200509-March 4, 2005

           Ladies and gentlemen, the eleventh chapter of the gospel according to John could be called LESSONS FROM LAZARUS. Time will not permit to note them all, but here are a few:

LESSON #1: Mary and Martha sent a messenger to Jesus with the information, "He whom thou lovest is sick." Beyond this, they said nothing else. They just laid the problem before the Lord; not asking for Him to come and heal their brother. Maybe they thought He was too busy doing something else or perhaps they knew it would endanger His life if He came back at this time. At any rate, they only laid the problem before Him and let Him do with it as He would.

One of the lessons about Lazarus is that the person who is close to the Lord is not immune to troubles of the flesh. We do not know what was wrong with Lazarus. It probably was a sickness that overcame him quickly. Jesus had been in the vicinity a short time before. It may have been a stroke or a quick‑growing cancer or a heart attack. Whatever it was, Lazarus was sick and sick unto death.

The Christian is not exempt today. Sometimes people will tell me what good does it do to be a Christian. The Christian gets sick too. He dies. He is not better off than the non‑Christian. True! Jesus did not die for your gall bladder or for your heart attack or the healing of your cancer. The important thing is, when it does come you are ready. Jesus died for the salvation of our souls.

As a Christian we have a right to go to God in prayer for sickness by virtue of the fact that we are not our own. We have been bought with a price, a very high price at that. As Peter says, “We have been redeemed not with silver and with gold but with the blood of a Lamb without spot and without blemish even the blood of Christ.”  

LESSON #2: Jesus said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God." Death is not the end. There is more after death. This is evident from the other story about the other Lazarus. The story of Lazarus in Luke sixteen and this story of Lazarus stand almost back to back with each other. This is significant. Death did not end it all in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. They both lived after they died. Death will not end it for you either. You will be just as conscious as to where you are after you are dead as you are now; maybe even more so because you will not be encumbered with the weakness of the flesh.

Jesus said that Lazarus had fallen asleep. The scripture speaks of the Christian as being asleep in Jesus. It is only the body that sleeps the soul or spirit is just as much alive as it ever was. Paul tells us the he had a desire to depart and be with Christ which was very far better. Stephen when he was stoned prayed, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” Then his body fell asleep. He went to be with the Lord. Paul also says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Then there is also another sense in which people are asleep. Paul warns us in Romans, “It is high time to awake out of asleep. The night is far spent and the day is at hand.” Eternity is closer than we may think. Get into a car and drive down the road at almost any speed and when a car comes in the opposite direction, if three feet is all the distance between you and a head on collision, then you may be just three feet from being able to hear the angels sing or from hearing the shouts and the cries of the damned. It is high time to awake out of sleep.

Then again when people are physically asleep they have dreams and fantasies. One of the biggest spiritual fantasies many have to day is that on the Judgment day, God will line up the entire human race and then Jesus will proclaim. Father I forgive everybody let them all in. I am too good to let anyone go to hell. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the biggest fantasy a mortal can have. That fantasy may turn in to an eternal nightmare.

These thoughts are not calculated necessarily to give you peace of mind. Remember Jesus the Lord says we are to comfort the afflicted, but is also true that we are to afflict the comfortable so wake up, it is high time to awake out of asleep.   

Sometimes when a person dies, people say that the corpse looks so peaceful. This is natural. They say it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. This may belie the real state of affairs as to what has actually happened after death. Rest assured that death does not end it all.

LESSON #3: Jesus abode two days in the place where He was. Why? Why did he wait? Lazarus was probably dead. It took a day to come and tell Him. It took a day for Him to return to Bethany. He abode two days. Whatever the reason we know that the Lord does not operate according to our timetable. When I declared myself for the ministry as a senior in high school, things looked bad for the world.

I remember telling a friend that I hoped the Lord would not return before I had a chance to get out there and do something. I asked our preacher how long it would be before the Lord came back? He said that a man makes a fool of himself if he tries to say that. I was insistent. I said, "Give me a number. Give me a guess." He said that he thought that the Lord would return according to the way things looked at the outside in fifteen years. Those fifteen years has come and gone four times and the Lord has not returned yet. When will it be? No one knows when the Lord will return, not even the preachers on television who are constantly telling you when it will be, but no matter, the Lord has His own timetable. We can be sure that He will come, but He will come when He says so and not when we say so.

LESSON #4: Let us go into Judea again. The disciples reminded the Lord that the Jews were seeking to kill Him. It would be dangerous to go at this time. Jesus knew this. He knew that if He went to raise Lazarus, it would bring Him to the brink of Calvary. He went anyway. So it is with us. He wanted to come into the world to help us and He knew what it would cost if He came, and yet He came anyway. He came to help us, even though it meant death on the cross for the sins of the world.

LESSON #5: Both Martha and Mary said the same thing to Jesus, "Lord, if thou hast been here, my brother had not died." IF, IF, IF. Someone has tried to unravel the Ifs of history. What would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had not died? The big IF is what would have happened if Christ had not died? There would be no Church, no salvation and no Heaven. We can be glad there is no IF in history. Jesus did come into the world. He did die on the cross. He did arise from the dead. He did ascend into Heaven. He did establish the Church. He is coming again.

One of the big IF’S is when some people live as IF Jesus had never come into this world, as IF He had never died on the cross for their sins, as IF there is no future life after death, as IF there is no Judgment day, as IF there is no hell and no heaven. However there is one big IF they need to consider: What IF the bible is true? Ladies and gentlemen, THAT IS THE BIGGEST IF OF ALL.

LESSON #6: There is a famous verse in John 11:35. JESUS WEPT. Twice Jesus is said to have WEPT. Actually three times; once in Hebrews 4:11, but there it mentions crying and tears. Twice it says that HE WEPT. Once here at the grave of Lazarus and again in Luke 19:41. There HE WEPT over the city of Jerusalem. Two different words are used. In John eleven there was the shedding of tears silently. But in Luke nineteen the word for WEPT includes sobbing—an audible sound of weeping. Twice it says that HE WEPT. It seems that His weeping over the guilt of lost humanity was greater than His weeping over the loss of a loved one that was prepared to die.

Paul said, "We sorrow not as the rest who have no hope." It is one thing to sorrow over a person who is prepared to die, and another to sorrow over one who is not prepared to die. Our sorrow over the one who is ready to go is tempered with the glorious hope of seeing that one again. How awful it must be to lose a member of the family who is not a Christian and who has no hope of eternal life. Of course, the loss of one who is unprepared is often mitigated by the idea that regardless of what one did or did not do—somehow he or she is ready. God will take care of everyone. Many are living in this area sometimes called A FOOL'S PARADISE.

LESSON #7: Behold how He loved him. They were impressed with when they saw that Jesus wept. It was evident that He loved Lazarus greatly. So let it be seen in us regarding our own spiritual condition. Behold how He loved us. We see it at the cradle in Bethlehem—Behold, how He loved us. We see it in His temptation. Tempted in all points like as we are, behold how He loved us. We see it again as He died on the cross, tasting of death once for every man and feeling the guilt of every sin that we have ever committed. Is there any doubt? Behold how He loved us. Look at the resurrection and then the ascension and the promise to come again to take us to where He is—there is no doubt about it. Behold how He loved him. It is true for us even as it was for Lazarus. Angels must often marvel—BHEHOLD HOW HE LOVED THEM!

LESSON #8: Some said, "Could not this man who opened the eyes of the blind have caused that this man had not died?" The answer is YES, He could have. What a comfort for us in the matter of salvation. "Could not this man who saved others also save me?" When I consider Saul of Tarsus who murdered and tortured Christians, tore down Churches and tried to stamp out the Church, could not the same Lord who saved him also save me? The answer has to be YES.

Look at Peter who, after living with the Lord three years, cursed and denied that he knew Him. If the Lord would forgive him, will He not forgive me? The answer has to be YES. Look at David. If God would forgive him who was guilty of adultery and murder, would He not also be able to forgive me? The answer has to be YES. 

LESSON #9: Roll away the stone from the door of the tomb. Martha said, “Lord he hath been dead four days and stinketh.” There is no smell more offensive than the smell of a rotting human corpse. That reminds us of the spiritual rot of the unforgiven sinner. Paul tells us in Ephesians that Jesus made us alive when we were dead in trespasses and sins. Before we became Christians we were spiritual dead. I am not overdrawing the picture when I say as unforgiven sinners that the spiritual rot of sinners in that condition is offensive to God. You may be the best-dressed person in town, you may be wearing the most expensive perfume, you may be the last word in sophistication but outside of Christ you exude a foul odor in the nostrils of God. I am too polite to say it and I won’t say it but I will let Martha say it for me. She said in regards of her brother after he had been dead four days, “He stinks.” If you are still dead in trespasses and sins, you stink!    

  We have often noted that the Lord will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. In John two, He told the servants to fill the water pots with water before He turned the water into wine. Here He tells them to roll away the stone before He raised the dead. Then when they did all they could do in both cases He stepped in and worked the miracle. In time of sickness we need to do all we can do first—take the shots, swallow the pills, drink the goop, get the cat scan,and get the operation, do all you can do first, then the Lord will do the rest as it pleases Him.

What a blessing this is! The Lord uses us to do His work. That man probably bragged about this for the rest of his life. Every time he was around Christians he no doubt reminded them of how he was the one who rolled away the stone when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. I did it! I did it! I did it! What a thrill it must have been to be used by the Lord for so great a miracle. We are not far behind. He uses us today to work the miracle of salvation. We must do our part. What can I do to bring on the miracle of salvation and help Him save the world? I can build a building. I can sing a song. I can preach a sermon. I can teach a class. I can give a dollar. I can knock on a door. I can make a phone call, and I can pray a prayer. I can do a lot of things to help Jesus save the world. If I can do it, by the grace of God, I will do it.

LESSON #10: When Lazarus was raised from the dead, he came forth bound with grave clothes. A man can't live like this. What person walks around dressed in a shroud? A living person is an unusual sight, dressed as it were for his funeral. "Loose him and let him go," and they did.

Paul tells us in Colossians that if we are raised with Christ, to seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. When were we raised? He told us in the previous chapter in verse twelve. "Buried with Him by baptism wherein we are also we were raised with Him through faith in the working of God who raise Him from the dead...." There is nothing wrong with saying you were saved through the work of baptism. Baptism is a work! It is the work of God. God works out our salvation when we obey His commands. If we have been raised with Christ, let us shed the grave clothes. Loose him and let him go.

Many are walking around in their grave clothes, They were drunkards before accepting Christ and it seems that they have made no change after becoming a Christian. "Loose Him and let Him go." Many find the parts of the shroud cling to them. We need to assist the new Christian in any way we can to rid him of the garments of death. "Loose Him and let Him go!"

LESSON #11: Jesus cried with a loud voice "LAZARUS, COME FORTH." What a voice Jesus must have had. John in Revelation describes it as the voice of a trumpet: a loud voice. No need for amplification. No need for a transmitter. His voice was not only heard by those who were close to the tomb, but heard in the Spirit world. "Lazarus, come forth!" It had been pointed out that if He had merely said, come forth, all the dead would have come out of the graves. It's a good thought but not necessarily so. There were many men named Lazarus and only one came back. The Lazarus in Luke sixteen did not return nor did any of the others. Jesus did not even say Lazarus of Bethany, just, "Lazarus, come forth." Lazarus knew he was the one Jesus was talking to and no one else, and he came forth.

Paul tells us when the Lord returns He will descend from heaven with a shout and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then they who remain alive will with them be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Think of that shout! He shouted with a loud voice when He raised Lazarus and He will shout with a loud voice when He raises the Christian. He shouted the name of Lazarus with a loud voice. Will it not be true as well for us? As a Christian it will be your name that He will shout when He arrives at the Second Coming. When He descends with a shout accompanied with the blast of the celestial trumpet I will hear it loud and clear: “ED, COME FORTH!”

Lazarus was glad to come back, not because of his life style, not because he was popular in this world, as revealed by the size of those who came to his funeral; but because he would be in the presence of the Lord. To be absent from Paradise for him was to be present with the Lord. For us it is true the other way around. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Better for him to come back. Better for us to go. To depart and be with Christ is far better.

I know not the form of my mansion so fair I know not the crown that I there then shall wear, But I know that my Saviour will welcome me there And that will be glory for me.