Last sermon of our worship series Wonderful. In the past few weeks we have looked at 6 different miracles from the life of Jesus that the disciple John wrote down in the Gospel of John. Jesus did many miracles in his life. We read about it in all 4 gospels. These miracles show us that God sees and acts as human need. That we don’t care about him. And they also show us that Jesus is God, because He has the power to do these miracles. However, we also considered that John chose these 7 wonders for his report on the life of Jesus because he linked them with another message.
Today is about the 7th, the last miracle that John describes. And this miracle is the climax. It blows up all the miracles that existed before. I am reading a somewhat longer report from John 11 today:
John 11, 1-8
1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 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. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 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. 16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
34-35 + 38-53
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept.
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 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. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 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. 42 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. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. 47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
A blatant story. It’s about our greatest enemy as humans. What we like most. Are afraid and therefore talk about it the least, but suppress it as much as possible. It’s about what each of us will catch up with. It’s about life and death. Jesus brings to life
Jesus knew Mary, Martha and Lazarus quite well. It is used elsewhere by the three reported. Betania, where they lived, is a few kilometers outside of Jerusalem. Probably Jesus was a guest here when they were at festivals in Jerusalem. John writes that Jesus Lazarus They had an intense relationship with each other. And now this Lazarus is heavy ill. His two sisters are worried about him and because they know that Jesus has power has something to do, send a messenger. When Jesus finally comes, Lazarus is already 4 days dead. But Jesus wakes him up from the dead. Inconceivably.
I believe there are five points we learn from this event at the end of our series can:
|I know you always answer me But because of all the people who stand here, I speak it
out; I want them to believe that you sent me. ”John 11:42
And then he calls a dead man into life: »Lazarus, come out!
When I was a little boy I tried to resuscitate a bird. There was a loud bang and you just saw a bird drip on the pane and then go down. Pok. I have the Bird picked up, petted, shaken, pecked – nothing poor bird, it was dead. I called him, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – no, of course not. But at some point the bird raised its head and grinned at me. No, not that either. I can not even bring a dead bird to life.
Jesus had previously told his disciples that through this illness the Son of God in his Glory should become visible and that through this sign you will believe in him. He wanted make it clear to people again who he is. Surely Jesus was too
motivated by his love for Lazarus and his sisters. But if he just had Lazarus want to help, then he could have cured him from afar like the second miracle, or he could could have been there in time, but he deliberately waited. The other gospels report before that of two raising of the dead, the daughter of Jairus and the youth of Nain. But there is a peculiarity here. In his book, Erik Metaxas writes miracles that the Jews believed that after a person’s death, his soul remained close to the body for three days. Four days dead, that was really dead. If there is anything more dead than dead. His decomposition had already started, Marta cried out in horror that Lazarus was already stinking when Jesus ordered the stone in front of the grave to be rolled away. And Lazarus came out. And so it becomes clear: Jesus is the originator of life, he is the master of life and death!
A second thing we see here:
|It is better for you to die for the people than for the whole people to perish. John 11.50|
John writes that Kapiphas is predicting that Jesus will die for the Jewish people and the whole world. God loved the world so much, is one of the most famous verses in the Gospel of John. Because we humans are separated from God through our guilt and shame and forever. But because God loves us so much, Jesus comes to this earth and dies on our behalf, he bears our guilt on the cross and thus clears the way to God again. Forgiveness is possible, and whoever accepts it can live in friendship with God again.
Yes, and that brings me directly to my third point:
3. We have to choose
We also see very different reactions with this miracle. There are many people who experience what Jesus is doing and hear what he says and thus also recognize the claim that he has to be God, and they begin to believe in him. But there are also the Pharisees. You only think politically. They are afraid to be afraid of the Romans and they have no confidence that Jesus as the Son of God could solve such a situation. In other places we notice that there is more to it than that, they are characterized by selfishness, do not want to give up their power, are narrow-minded in their religious ideas and do not want to lose their reputation. And so they make a decision out of fear and rebellion, although it is also obvious to them who Jesus is, because who else than God can bring the dead to life. They decide to kill Jesus.
We are quick to think that if Jesus really showed himself to me, I would believe in him. But we see here that this is not automatically the case. There are many reasons not to believe in him. Because maybe we realize that we have to change our lives, that there are things that are wrong. Because suddenly there is a higher authority that we should direct our lives towards and we mistrust him that he really means well with us. Because it doesn’t fit into our religious image And and and. And so some people find a lot of excuses, even though they have long recognized who Jesus really is. And if only it was to push him away so that he didn’t have to deal with him any more.
|Jesus says: I am resurrection and life. Whoever believes in me will live even if he dies. (John 11.25)|
We are spiritually dead. It is only through Jesus that we become spiritually alive and get real life. By getting to know him and his love deeper, we experience what it means to live a full, meaningful life. And I invite you if all of this is brand new for you, do not just push Jesus away, but looking for him, getting to know him better, starting to read the Bible and asking your questions. Maybe by just saying Jesus this morning: Jesus, if all of this is correct and you are there and you really are the Son of God, then I don’t want to close my eyes to it, then show me.
The resurrection of Lazarus also gives us the certainty that we will rise again one day after our death
4. We can have firm certainty about our resurrection
Jesus says: I am resurrection and life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies, and with this miracle he makes it clear that these are not just beautiful words but reality. The Bible promises that not everything will be over after death. It promises us an afterlife in the presence of God. Some have such an idea of heaven that we sit on a cloud all day and play the harp and they find it boring. But this place is going to be wonderful. Life in the presence of God. In the presence of perfect love. Without suffering, without pain and shouting. There are not many pictures about this place, but if God is a wonderful God and just describing the Garden of Eden as the world was originally meant before man decided to turn away from God gives a good insight, then we will the sky will be a wonderful place.
That is why, for example, the apostle Paul says: Christ is my life, that is, knowing Jesus and living with him is real life. But the Bible verse goes further: Dying is my gain, because then I can be with him, very close, see him in this wonderful place (Christ is my life, dying is my gain. Philippians 1:21).
I think, and I include myself in that: we didn’t understand that. I have said this before: during this corona crisis we hear everywhere that health is the most important thing and Jesus made it clear that much more than health is that we entrust our lives to him. But if we understand what dying actually means, namely being able to be with him afterwards, then death loses its terror and then death is no longer the worst that can happen to us. Our life is in the hands of God and not in the hands of a virus. And of course I don’t want to die because I love my life. But our convulsive adherence to this life, that we are ready to sacrifice all possible elements of our faith, shows me how much we love this world and how little we have understood what awaits us after this life. Death has lost its power. Jesus defeated him. And who belongs to him can look forward to an eternal life with and with him!
And one last point that we can learn from this miracle:
5. There is hope where everything seems hopeless
Let’s go back to the beginning of the story. Then messengers come and tell Jesus that Lazarus is sick and what does Jesus do? Nothing. Nothing for 2 days. And maybe you know this feeling that you are in a crisis right now and yelling to God for help and it just happens … nothing. Sometimes there is even the next blow to the neck. Lazarus dies. And even if we as readers here notice that Jesus knows exactly what is happening, he openly tells his disciples that Lazarus has died, although he cannot know it from a distance, the disciples had no idea what he was doing now does. And even we, when we are in such situations, do not know what is happening.
There is Thomas, one of the disciples, who reacts almost cynically: Lazarus has died? And now you want to go near Jerusalem, where they will search and persecute you to kill you, because they had noticed this resistance before. Oh well, folks, come on let’s go and die too. Thomas has no belief in anything in this situation. Jesus, Lazarus is dead, what more do you want there? And maybe some of us feel that there are feelings and experiences, what can Jesus do in my life now, the situation has already been eaten.
When Jesus comes to Betania we read that Marta ran to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. Maria stayed at home, sad, maybe angry. I don’t want to meet Jesus now. He finally let me down. It wasn’t there when I needed it. Something died in Maria, she lost her courage and withdrew. And it may be that something died in you too, because you have been waiting for Jesus to do something in your life, or because you have seen that Jesus seems to have come too late or that he simply does not seem to intervene where you are you long for a partner. Where you hope for children. Where your marriage is going badly or maybe already broke up. Where you’ve been waiting for work for so long. Where you are looking for an apartment and simply cannot find one. Where you pray for someone to get to know Jesus, and they tend to turn away. Where you pray for healing And something in you dies the way Lazarus died.
I want to tell you this morning that waiting doesn’t mean that God automatically rejects it. Just because God has not acted does not mean that he will no longer act. We believe in a God who loves us, who is good to us, who knows what we need, who has the power to do miracles. Your situation doesn’t leave him cold. We see that at Lazarus. Even though Jesus knows what he is doing, he cries in front of the grave. He suffers with those who are sad, who suffer because they are going through difficult times. Unlike in our story, where Jesus as a human could only be in one place at a time, He is really with us through His Holy Spirit.
We have dealt with the topic of crises again and again in the last few months, also due to the current situation, but somehow also led by God. Wait for the topic in Advent, and then before Easter. Just listen to the sermons again on our homepage to go deeper into them.
God wants to use the crises in our lives to create something good. In Rom. 8.28 states:
|But we know that everything contributes to the best of those who love God; they are called in accordance with his plan.|
I do not need this word when everything is going well in my life, but when I need a belief and hope that is greater than what I am currently experiencing. He wants us to become more like Jesus and to grow into a deeper, closer relationship with him. Because we are filled with His nearness and discover the fullness of life that He wants to give us. One way God does just that is through crises. And that’s exactly what we read here:
When Jesus hears the news of Lazarus disease, he says an amazing sentence:
At the end of this illness there is no death, but I will glorify myself in and through this situation (John 11.4) and
Because of you, I’m glad I wasn’t there because that is how you will believe in me. (John 11:15)
And I want to tell you, this verse says that for us today too. If you are in a situation that is bad where you are going through something, God can turn this situation to a good end. In the face of this hopeless situation, Marta says to Jesus:
|But even now I know whatever you ask from God, he will give you. (John 11:22)|
Even if we see afterwards that she has doubts, and who does not, if someone has been dead for four days, she has this trust and puts her hope in Jesus: I know you can do something now.
Just like Peter, who sinks as he looks at the storm in his life, at the circumstances, who has to learn to look at Jesus and who screams for help and experiences how Jesus pulls him out and calms the storm. And I wish you this faith, which throws itself into the arms of Jesus and says: I will continue to hold on to you, even if I doubt, even if I do not understand you, even if I am disappointed. I know you mean well with me, you will make good things happen and you can do something now.
Erik Metaxas writes: Could it be that God is leading us through rough paths to give us the opportunity to trust him and to have extraordinary and wonderful experiences with God that we would not have had if God had answered our prayers so as it corresponds to our imagination. And, conversely, does it not mean that if we do not trust God in our difficulties, we will miss these opportunities?
Jesus, the Risen One, the Lord of life and death, lives. It awakens to life in three ways: physically, mentally and spiritually, where something has died in you. And he can still do things in your and my life today, even in situations where we think it’s too late for that. And maybe you need just such a miracle that we have been talking about all the time in our series. Maybe you need new trust in God because something died in you
Perhaps you need strength to endure your current situation and wait to see what God will do to glorify yourself in your life. Amen