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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lazarus’ Resurrection – John 11 – Part 2

          Jesus waits two days to begin His journey to Martha, Mary and Lazarus in Bethany. He and His disciples would have a two-day journey to get there. By the time Jesus and His disciples came close to the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, four days have passed. Many Jews had come from Jerusalem to comfort Martha and Mary in the loss of their brother. The Jews believed that the soul hovers over the body for three days. After this, there is no hope for revival, and decay has set in. So, they are all without hope for their friend and relative Lazarus. Jesus gives hope to the hopeless. He will demonstrate His resurrection power over death using His powerful Word and the power of the Holy Spirit within Him bringing glory to the Father and Himself.   

          When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, “she went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed home.” John 11:20  Martha was happy to see Jesus, but she was also somewhat upset that Jesus didn’t come right away. “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” John 11:21-22 “If only,” shows Martha has some doubt and wanted Him to act in her timetable, but Jesus only moves when the Father tells Him, not humans. Even though Martha is disappointed that Jesus didn’t come right away, she still believes that God will do whatever Jesus asks. She had faith in Him.
        Jesus says to Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” V23  Without death, there can be no resurrection! Martha is somewhat confused about Jesus’ statement. She responds, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” The Jews believed in the resurrection at the end of time because of scripture. Martha is talking about the Day of the Lord at the end of the age, but Jesus wants her to know that His resurrection life starts right here on earth NOW. Jesus breathes new, spiritual life into those who are dead in sin when they come to Him as their Lord and Savior. Spiritual rebirth is offered to every human now. Jesus wants to put our fleshly ways to death so we can walk in new, resurrected, spiritual life in Him. Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we live in the Spirit, and when we die physically, we will live on forever in the Spirit and our spiritual body just as Jesus did.
            Jesus sees Martha’s faith in Him, so He takes Martha even deeper. He reveals to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? John 11:25  Jesus is telling Martha that resurrection life can only come through Him. His resurrection life is not just in the future, but a present reality when we walk with Jesus. Martha responds, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” V27  Mary used the same words that Peter spoke in Mark 8:29  Jesus treated women equally with men. He gave revelation knowledge to both. He looked for open hearts whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, young or old. By revealing to Martha that He is the resurrection and the life, He was showing her that He was not only her friend, He is the Messiah.  Jesus loved Martha and Mary like sisters, but they must understand His lordship. They must understand whom they served and why. Jesus didn’t want to take away Martha’s wonderful hospitality and servant’s heart. He wanted her to use it to advance His Eternal Kingdom under His lordship and teach others about Him.

In Luke 10:40, Martha criticized Mary for sitting at the feet of Jesus while she did all the work of serving the guests. But, not this time! She ran to tell Mary, “The Teacher is here, and is asking for you.” V28  Martha has grown in the knowledge of Jesus and jealously and envy are gone! Perhaps Martha referred to Jesus as the “Teacher” because in Luke Jesus was teaching Mary as she sat at His feet learning of Him and His Kingdom. When Mary heard that Jesus was asking for her, she got up and ran quickly to Jesus. She met Him in the same place that Martha had met Him. (John 11:30) Jesus meets us right where we are in our spiritual journey. They came to Jesus first, then Jesus acted upon their request.
Mary left so quickly to go to Jesus that the Jews who were there consoling her in her mourning for her brother decided to follow her. They thought she was going to the tomb to mourn there. Mary wasn’t going to the place of death. She was going to the place of life – to the Life-giver. Mary’s quickness to come to Jesus and her heart for her dead brother brought these Jews to Him also!
Mary approached Jesus in a different way than Martha. Mary was deeply grieved.  Mary fell at his feet in humbleness and wept. At His feet is the place of honor, respect, submission and humility.  Disciples of rabbis would sit at the feet of the teacher-rabbis in respect and honor to learn from them. Before the title rabbi, these were called sages (wise ones). Martha questioned Jesus about His delay in coming, as did Mary. but Mary humbled herself and wept. Mary and Martha both believed in Jesus’ ability to save indicated by their comments about Him not coming quickly, but Mary added humility, reverence, compassion and worship to her faith. Mary’s humility, love and sorrow moved Jesus to act. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” John 11:33 Jesus felt their pain.
Jesus wanted Martha and Mary, as well as their family and friends who were mourning with them, to know Him in all His power and glory. He would use Mary and Martha’s brother’s death to show His power to bring new life to the dead. He would also use it to show what He would go through soon – death and resurrection.
God has a plan and a time. If Jesus had come sooner, these Jews would not have been gathered around Martha and Mary to console and comfort them in their loss. Lazarus’ death brought these Jews to Jesus also. They will witness the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus and see the glory of God through it and ultimately see the glory of God in Jesus' own death and resurrection.
Jesus said, “Where have you lain him (Lazarus)?” “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept." John 11:34-35  Jesus no doubt wept over the grief of Lazarus’ family and their loss, but I believe He also wept over the sin and the death that it brings to our spirit. Physical life is the gift of God. Eternal spiritual life is also the gift of God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Lazarus is not only physically dead, he is also spiritually dead because he hasn’t believed that Jesus is the Son of God – the promised Messiah. Mary and the Jews with her will lead Jesus to their dead brother and friend. Jesus wants those who love and follow Him today to do this also. We are saved for a purpose. Jesus knew that those who came to Him with Mary needed Him! The fact that some of God’s chosen people did not accept Him troubled Him. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem for the same reason. The love and compassion of Jesus and the Father toward lost humanity causes them to weep. Those who love and follow Jesus also sometimes weep over those who are dead in sin.
Some of the Jews said, “See how He loved him (Lazarus)!” But others criticized Jesus. “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” v 37 They questioned Jesus’ power, criticized His timing and perhaps even questioned His heart. We must trust Jesus and His timing over every circumstance. He has a plan and a purpose that we may not know about. Those who love and follow Jesus will always have both encouragers and critics. We must, however, keep our eyes on the goal – Jesus and His ability to resurrect life in those who are dead in sin.

(To be continued)

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