Levi Lusko - When God Lets You Down
2013, a climber approached the Summit of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the Alps, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, and as he and those with him were climbing and considering how they might reach the top of this peak, they were shocked to find on the ground as they climbed, rubies and emeralds and sapphires, precious stones, precious stones that were there just literally sitting there on the mountain. Confused, they brought them down the mountain and did what, hopefully, all of us would have the integrity to do. They turned them into the officials. Said, man, we were climbing this mountain as so many others before us have done. And there on the Earth, on this mountain, were all of these precious stones. $168,000 worth of precious stones.
The authorities for eight years tried to contact and figure out exactly who it is that owns these. They knew how they got there for it had been in 1966 that an Air India Boeing 707 flight had crashed into Mont Blanc. And the manifest indicated that being transported on that plane, in addition to the 117 who perished in that accident, that these stones had been being transported from one place to another. But the problem was there was no rightful heir. No one to claim. Them no one for eight years from 2013 into 2021 that they could say, hey, come get these. They belong to you. And so just before Christmas in 2021, they contacted that climber and they said, here's what we're going to do. We're going to take half of the gems and we're going to give them to the Township that they were found in, and they'll make a museum and people will be able to come see them and everybody will get to enjoy them in that way.
But the other half we're going to give to you because you found them. And he said, OK. He said, I actually have been wanting to renovate my apartment. I'll use that money to do that. But I just love the picture. I love the picture because here is this man climbing up a mountain and finding precious things as he went. I also love the picture because, if you notice Mont Blanc here in this staggering image that we found on the internet at night with the moon up in the sky that it's pointing to, I mentioned a minute ago that the gems were there on this mountain because of death and they had been there since 1966. They sat there for 47 years. 47 years of waiting. 47 years on a mountain. That means that they were there when man landed on the moon in 1969. They sat, they sat, they sat waiting for someone who would find them, someone who would stoop down and to pick them up, someone who would appreciate what had been left through death on the mountain.
In this now the final of seven weeks in this series, the Last Supper on the Moon, what we've been doing guided by page 237 and one obscure sentence on the bottom of the page, Jesus, before he died, left seven precious gems on the mountain of his life. And John's gospel is telling us that if we go through his book, we will be able to pick up one at a time through the seven specific miracles that John says will help us get a sense of who Jesus is, to know that he is the Son of God. And that if we believe in him, we will experience life in his name. Come on. There are gems on this mountain, and we are collecting every single one that we can. Seven is a number in the Bible that speaks of completion or fullness, and we're trying to collect and make sure we get the full picture that John, the beloved disciple, gives us as to who Jesus is. And we come now in our consideration of these seven signs to what has been called the greatest, or the most powerful, demonstration of them all.
In John chapter 11, if you have a Bible or can join in somehow mobile on the screen, you'll see the verses show up if you don't have your own. But there is something about seeing the text in your own hands. I think ink and print on a page, there is something about that, or a pixel on your iPad screen, to see your own Bible. I have as I look through these pages, I see the notes and the remarks that I took down studying these texts and the many different times, dozens of times, that I've taught through these different miracles. And what has been amazing to me as I've been now going through it, considering back last week, we looked at John chapter 9, the man born blind, and I recalled preaching that text in 2012 and preaching it again in 2017. But seeing something brand new, something fresh each time. And I believe that in what is, no doubt, to many of you a very familiar, very traveled section of scripture that God has something new, a Ruby or an emerald or a sapphire, something you didn't know was there. Come on.
So other people have climbed that mountain, but not picked them up before that man did I dare you to believe there's something fresh in the snow for you this day. And wherever you are, whatever church you're at, Fresh Life or one of our church partners coming in together through the open network facilitating this moment, that would allow me the honor and the privilege of opening up John's gospel to you to the 11th chapter. I believe that God is going to do something powerful in all of our lives today. And I want to give you all of the message that follows under this heading. What are you supposed to do when God lets you down? For this text, this passage, is engineered for us to see exactly what our response should be. I know some of you don't think I, as a pastor, should be communicating such things. You're, like, Levi, I brought a friend. Could you please not preach that to them? That's exactly what they have told me.
God has already let them down. That's why they don't believe. It's why they were so reticent to come with me to church. I'm telling you that there are going to be times when God is going to let you down. I'll take it one step further doubling down on that. There will be times when he will do that to you on purpose. And we see that in what is a lengthy passage of scripture. You're going to feel, like, wow, this is a lot. But it is a lot. I'm telling you, it's a lot right now. But I just didn't want to interrupt it. I didn't want to break it up. I didn't want to just read a little bit and tell you to read it later as I do sometimes. Today I just wanted to read this entire passage to you.
So let's begin in verse 1. "Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister, Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to him saying, Lord, behold. He whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God. That the Son of God may be glorified through it.' Now Jesus loved Mary. He loved Martha. He loved Lazarus".
So verse 6, "When he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was. Then after this, he said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again.' The disciples said to him, 'Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone you. And are you going there again?' Jesus answered, 'Are there not 12 hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of the world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles because the light is not in him.' These things he said. And after that, he said to them, 'Our friend, Lazarus, sleeps. But I go that I may wake him up.' Then his disciples said, 'Lord, if he sleeps, he will get well.' However, Jesus spoke of his death. But they thought that he was speaking about taking rest and sleep. So Jesus said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead, and I am glad, for your sakes, that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to him.' Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his disciples, his fellow disciples, 'Let's all go that we may die with him.'"
Proving, once and for all, the disciples did not understand much of anything that Jesus ever said.
"So when Jesus came, he found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem about two miles away. And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him. But Mary was sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha responded, 'I know that he will rise again in the Resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the Resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.' And when she had said these things, she went away and secretly called Mary, her sister, saying, 'The teacher has come and is calling for you.' As soon as she heard that she, arose quickly and came to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into town, but he was in the place where Martha had met him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house and comforting her, when they saw that Mary Rose up quickly and went out, followed her saying, 'She is going to the tomb, no doubt, to weep there.' Then when Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she fell down at his feet saying to him, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her weeping, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And he said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, 'See how he loved him.' And some of them said, 'Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?' Then Jesus, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone leg against it. Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.' Martha, the sister of him who is dead, said to him, 'Lord, by this time there is a stench. For he has been dead four days.' Jesus said to her, 'Did I not tell you that, if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?' Then, they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I know that you always hear me. But because of the people who are standing by, I said this, that they may believe that you sent me.' Now, when he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go.' Then, many of the Jews who had come to Mary and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in him".
Does anybody feel thankful for what has been imparted even just from a reading of God's word?
And so, Lord, we are eager to understand what the natural man can't. We know that we need your help in understanding what life there is in your word. God, it's such a clear thing to consider as we read these. This is not normal. These words are not normal words. There is something about your word that's higher than we are, that's bigger than we are, that's wider than we are. But we are truly stumbling around in the dark unless you illuminate your words. So we ask what David said would be true of this moment that you would open the eyes of our hearts to see glorious truth in your word. I pray you would help us to make sense of what to do when life stinks and when we feel, if we're being honest, that you have let us down. I pray for something precious to spring up in the midst of the desert for the rose to bloom. And I pray for those who don't know you, don't have that relationship with you, that through faith can cause us to tap into forgiveness and eternal life. We pray that the miracle of salvation would take place in our midst. And I pray this in Jesus's name. We all say it together. Come on, give God a good Amen.
Let's thank him together for his presence. It is impossible to separate death from space exploration. I mean, sickness and death are just par for the course. Not only, of course, for the obvious reasons of considering that the space race played out simultaneously to the war in Vietnam, the assassinations of some very high profile beloved individuals, but also because of the quarantine measures that were put into place, both in the front end of all the space missions not wanting to inadvertently bring sickness into space. But also because of the fact that we weren't quite sure if there were germs on the moon or lunar sicknesses of which we had nothing to do to prevent or to treat when the astronauts got back to our planet. And so, famously, they took Airstream trailers and it was like a summer camping trip. And they got to spend three weeks in a camper on the back end of their moon mission.
And this continued for some time after being brought from the aircraft carrier into the quarantine facility in Houston. They kind of had a several bedroom apartment. So it wasn't like they stayed the whole three weeks in the camper. But they just weren't sure. Are they going to die? Are they going to infect everybody? Are they going to unleash some alien virus that's going to spawn on our chests, right? No one knew what was going to happen. And so the quarantine front end, quarantine back end. But try as they might, some germs did get through to space. Turns out there was not anything on the moon that would bring sickness back home. But there were a few times when sickness did get brought out into the missions. The most famous, of course, being Apollo 8, the first time we ever went to the moon. You have to realize we had only ever been hundreds of miles above our planet. And all of a sudden we're talking about a quarter million miles away.
And so Apollo 8 is, no doubt, one of the most gutsy things ever undertaken. And in the middle of the mission there was a pandemic going on, on the planet, by the way, in the '60s and people were dying. And it is thought that perhaps the president, in fact, did give this sickness to the astronauts. Lyndon B. Johnson, who insisted on having some face time with the astronauts before the mission, was very sick at the time. So it could be the president infected the astronauts. They took it to space. Here's what we know. We know one of them began having diarrhea and vomiting bouts at the same time. Not a great look under any circumstances, but especially not in zero gravity where everything just forms globules and begins flying around. And so you had one astronaut, you had the three in space, Anderson, Lovell, and Borman, and you have one of them putting on a gas mask, which was not protocol. But he said, to hell with it. I need this. I can't breathe. And he was told, you can't do that. He said, I have to.
And if you're, like, oh, my pastor normally would never say that while preaching. He'll be back next week. I'm glad you brought that up. And thank you for letting me just have a few minutes with your church, all of you pastors. Come on, thank you for joining with us. It has been an honor, honestly. That is a direct quote though. He says, I can't breathe. And so there's these globules flying around, and they're trying to avoid them but they've got to get them because they're going to hit the controls and it was a bad deal. Sickness shows up in the story. And so does death. In fact, of the 73 original astronauts throughout the Apollo era before space went into a sort of a long sleep before the shuttle missions began reactivating it, there were seven different groups of astronauts seven waves of astronauts, brought in.
The first, of course, famously called the Mercury Seven. But there were six other groups. And in total there were 73 astronauts. Of those 73, just over 40 of them got to fly. So many of them did not get to fly. But could you believe that in a four-year period, from 1966 to 1967, there were the deaths of nine of those original 73 astronauts. Three of them, of course, while testing their Apollo 1 capsule and a plugs-out mission on the launch pad. And then several of them died in plane accidents as the astronauts would fly back and forth checking on the different factories and manufacturing facilities that were building these different components for their spacecraft and the astronauts all had different areas of expertise that they looked in on. They divided it all out. Michael Collins was in charge of the suits and some would focus on the lunar landers and some would focus on this. So they had all this fleet of T-38s, and they would fly them back and forth. To this day NASA still uses those same original 1960s T-38s.
And supposedly they're so well looked after, they're in as good, or better, a flying condition than any plane that exists out there. But many of the astronauts that perished did die in those T-38s says they would come through a fog or land in a, one of them hit a building that had their capsule inside it at that moment. One died in a car crash. But death was a routine part. Think about that. 73 astronauts and more than 10% of them died in a four-year period. Five of those deaths occurred all in the year 1967. And so funerals were a part of life for astronauts. But, in fact, many of them had already grown accustomed to it because a lot of the original astronauts came from the Navy and, more specifically, were test pilots. In the Navy, Tom Wolfe recounts that at the height of this whole Vietnam era, 23% of pilots would die in an accident of some sort. And that does not include combat fatalities. 23% of pilots in the Navy in that era would die in accidents of some sort or another. And that didn't even factor in combat deaths.
And, again as I said, some of them were test pilots. Test pilots have this as their job description, pushing the envelope. We get airplanes for the first time in 1903. We all on the same page? That's called Kitty Hawk. We're talking about the '60s when we've gone beyond flying 100 feet, thank you Wright brothers, and now we're going to go a quarter million miles away. So to get from there to there from string and wood and cloth and just holding on for dear life, that's Kitty Hawk. To get 66 years later to one small step on the moon, what does it take? It takes a lot of people in between pushing the envelope. Testing this plane. Here's a new thing we just thought of because there was a time when there was not a plane. And it's called almost all of human history. And then there is a plane, all of a sudden because two pastor's kids, who made bicycles professionally and were not experts and were not educated and were not the ones where innovation was supposed to come from, so don't tell me God can't do something great through you.
Don't tell me you have to be Ivy League. Don't tell me you have to be silver spoon. Don't tell me you got to be connected and networked when the world was changed by two pastor's kids who made bicycles. Come on. God can give you a dream. Orville, right? I mean, with a name like that, so to get to the moon, it took test pilots pushing the envelope, pushing the envelope. But many of those test pilots died. In fact, in the 1950s, this is an astounding statistic, in the 1950s, test pilots in America were being killed at a rate of one per week. And, yes, I did find that on Wikipedia. But I did find several confirming newspapers in the RAF, British Air Force, website that confirmed it as well. And if you look at the deaths, I mean, I didn't take the time to add them up, but it is truly unbelievable to think of those who are flying these new airplanes and how many times they were dying.
The point is, as I said a moment ago, you cannot separate sickness and death from space travel. And as we are, in the series, seeking to reach for all that God has for us as represented by the moon, this idea of a goal, this idea of inspiration, this idea of the blessed life, whatever that looks like for all of us, tapping into the happiness that can be ours when Jesus's life is coursing through ours. He said in this text, even in the midst of sadness and sorrow, I am glad. And God wants that to be something you can say. He hath taught me to say, it is well. It is well with my soul. I am glad that we can truly experience joy even in sorrow. But for us to see that come to pass, there is going to be sickness. There is going to be death. Why? Because we are on a planet with an expiration date, and we all, each of us, have a sell by date stamped invisibly upon us. As recorded by Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed for man once to die, and then next comes the judgment".
Hebrews 9:27. So no one gets off this planet alive. Every single one of us are going to experience death. And that, friends, is the reason that Jesus came. He came in the words of scripture to destroy death. That was his purpose. That was his mission. He came because we are dying. So we cannot separate our attempts to reach the moon, which is what God wants for all of us as a symbol, symbolically. And how are we going to get there? You don't get to the moon by jumping. You don't get to the moon by wishing. You don't get to the moon by hoping. You don't get to the moon by swimming. Friends, you get to the moon with a giant rocket. And Jesus is that rocket, more powerful than the Saturn V. He is the only connection between us and what God wants our lives to be like, which is gladness even in the midst of difficulty. But there are going to come days between now and then when you are going to feel like God has let you down. And I want to ask the question, what do we do in those painful moments?
And I see in this text and in all of its movements, and I see lots of different movements. In fact, if you want to take a picture of this real quickly, these are the movements I see in the text. I see disappointment. I see confusion. I see grief. I see raw emotion. Of course, then we see, aha, Resurrection. And then we also have to look at the participation. And not everybody participated in this miracle the same way. But in all of the movements, this story presents us with ironclad proof that there will be times, if it hasn't happened yet, buckle your seat belt, when you're going to feel let down by life. And you can't read this text without just, it's steaming with disappointment. Where were you? Why didn't you stop this from Happening I thought you loved me. I thought you loved my brother. If you had been here, he wouldn't have died. Such confusion. Such betrayal. Such shock. Such disappointment.
Word is sent to Jesus, Lazarus is sick. They didn't even have to say it. They said, "He whom you love is sick". Assuming that Jesus would just drop everything he was doing and rush to his side. Now context is helpful always. But in this situation, it will tap you into the real emotion of the story because this was the home of a wealthy family where Jesus often was welcomed and invited to stay. He would pass through the area because of the feast and because Jerusalem being what it was. It was a place where he would need to communicate the message. It was where miracles would take place. He would be with his disciples often in Jerusalem. And Mary and Martha and Lazarus, though we don't know the industry or a line of business, they were wealthy and they loved God. And there's no conflict there, by the way. Because just as you can have a lot and love God, you can also have a little and love God. And just as you can have a lot and worship money, you can have almost no money, but worship money.
So it really is not about what you have in your hand, it's what you have in your heart. And these had resources, but they had the heart to see their resources further the kingdom. And so with this large house, that Jesus was not constantly clucking his tongue as he walked around, like, oh, oh, wow, ooh, ooh, how pagan you must be. He was like, that's amazing that you have all of this that God's blessed you with, and you have a heart to see it bless the kingdom. So he and his disciples would often crash there. Now what kind of a crib does it require to have Jesus and his posse staying at your house because he rolled deep, OK. And so he was grateful for the hospitality, for the way they would show their love to God through this generous spirit. And so Jesus would often stay at their home, as a home base, when he would minister in Jerusalem for, it was only two miles every morning. And so he gets a little commute in the morning, a little commute in the evening, but a nice place to stay, away from the stress and the cares of the city.
Now here's the thing, that this just plays into why they were so disappointed because during the time of Jesus being in their house, where he would preach and minister, him and Lazarus seemed to have hit it off. And what they had talked about, I don't know. Whether they chatted about Lazarus' business, and his heart to see it used for God, and the way it opened doors for him to talk to other people, and the way as he did, was in his hand, with all of his heart towards God, the way his world just got bigger and bigger, there was just parallels that maybe intersected, as Jesus talked about, my father's house, right, being about my father's business, and principles have integrity and excellence. And of course, we're dreaming here and wondering here, but we know there was affection. We know there was things that they would laugh about. There was things that they would cry about. There was meals that they would share. And they, apparently, were so close.
And I see it's just wisdom in Jesus, of course, being friends with his apostles. He loved Peter, loved James, loved John, loved all his, but he had a friend who wasn't in the same line of work, so to speak, same vocational calling that they were in. And they had a lot they hit it off in, as they talked, as they decompressed after a crazy, chaotic day, around a fire. And so Mary and Martha, notifying Jesus Lazarus is ill, Jesus, of course is going to run. And Jesus did love Lazarus, did care for Mary and Martha. And yet, when he heard that they needed him the most, he stayed where he was, two full days. How do you not feel let down? The messenger came back empty-handed, you see. Where's Jesus? He said that if you believe, you'll see God's glory. You mean he's not coming? I don't know what to tell you.
What do you do when God disappoints you? I have four things. They're not going to go on the screen, but I want them on your notebook. Number one, you, first of all, hold up. Hold up, just a minute. Hold up. What does that mean? That means don't jump to conclusions. Hold up. You'll feel it coming, rising up. It starts here, and it gets here. And then you start to get warmer as it goes. You know what I'm saying? That, I can't believe he, and why didn't he, and la, la, just remember, for a quick second, that when you're on the moon, the Earth is exactly the opposite, exactly the complement of what the moon looks like from the Earth. The moon and the Earth have complementary phases. So when you're looking from the Earth to the moon, you will see a new moon, which is no moon. But if you were on the moon, you would see a full Earth. OK? So it's exactly flipped.
So keep that in mind when we're talking about us and God, right. That's why the scripture said, you are God in heaven, and I'm here on Earth. So I'm not going to trust how I see things. I'm going to let my words be few because I know, in the multitude of words, sin is not going to be lacking. Any time in your life where there's a lot of words coming out of your mouth, chances are sin is coming with it, too, so zip your lip for a second, is what that means. And in a practical, it's been said that a closed mouth gathers no feet. So if you feel like, I just need to pour into this email, pour into this, here's a better idea. Pour into your journal. Pour it out on your knees. So hold up, just for a second.
What Jesus communicated to Martha and Mary was apparently enough for them to heroically, and triumphantly, and victoriously make it through this trial. And what did he tell them? We must examine it, for it was all they got, but apparently, it was enough, for Jesus referenced it at the end. Didn't he? Did I not tell you, Levi; did I not tell you, Martha; did I not tell you, Olivia, if you believed, you would see the glory of God. So never trust your eyes with what you're seeing because we don't walk by sight. We walk by faith. If you give in to what your eyes tell you, you will always walk away in fear. And a fear response is what, church? It is faith in the enemy. And our faith is not in the devil. Our faith is in Jesus, who raises the dead. So he told them what he tells you. This does not end in death.
Y'all, you got to get real good at saying to yourself, over your situation, that's not how this ends. I know I'm fired. I know they're sick. I know I don't have a spouse. I know this is hard. I know what the bank account says, but that's not how this story ends. This does not end with death. This ends in glory. This ends in glory. That is what you should speak over every pain, every wound, every grief, every sadness, every hurt, every loneliness, every depression. Speak over it. Glory, glory is how this ends. This ends in glory. It doesn't end here. It's not what it looks like. What this looks like is me building a case that God's not present, God's not good, God's not kind, God doesn't care, God doesn't have a plan. But this doesn't end in death. What this ends in is Jesus being glorified. Is it a mistake that Jesus's first miracle took place at a feast and his last miracle at a funeral, to show that he is enough, completely, all you need for every situation and that gamut in between? But is it not telling, that the story introduces us to Mary through an act of lavish gratefulness that she wouldn't even do until the next chapter?
This is that Mary who, by the way, would pour out the oil at Jesus' feet. When did she do that? When her brother was given back to her. Is it possible that there is going to be glory in your life that will turn your funeral into a feast, that will turn your sadness into celebration, that will take death in the moment and bring about life? Jesus is enough, in all of the sadness, to bring about the oil of gladness. So we must hold up because God's love, it's been said, is not a pampering love. It is a perfecting love. And Jesus calls Lazarus friend, our friend Lazarus, who he let die. I wrote it down like this, so I'm just going to say it like I wrote it. The worse he treats you, it seems, the more he trusts you because pain turns into power. And God had something powerful he wanted to do by letting Lazarus die.
Secondly, you've got to speak up. You've got to hold up. You've got to speak up. We see lots of honesty, honesty with Martha. She's just letting Jesus know how she felt. Honesty with Mary, she just sobs at his feet, but lets him know how she felt. And then honesty with Jesus, he's in touch with his emotions. He knows he'll raise Lazarus from the dead in a minute. But first, he sits and cries. This is an important distinction to make. You can be on the right track, doing the right thing, and you can break down while doing it. And that's not a bad thing. Jesus breaks down, troubled, agitated, and sad, in the will of God, showing us what it looks like to be a perfect, a lot of us, we throw our hands up and quit when it's hard.
Jesus is breaking down. This is hard. I'm troubled. And yet, he continues, shaking with emotion, to trust God, and to lift up his voice, and to speak up. I pray now, not just for me, but I pray because other people, out loud, are going to hear me. Come on, somebody. Your prayers, out loud, can help other people. When someone's going through something, don't just say, I'm going to pray for you. Say, let me pray for you. Let your prayer be heard. It will help them. It will help you. And your Father will hear.
So speak up. And number three, keep it up. Keep it up. Keep going. Keep trusting. It's not a one-time thing, having hope. It's not a one-time thing, having faith in the fire. It's not a one-time thing, having faith when life stinks. That's what Martha said. By now, it stinks. She says, you let me worry about that. Just obey me. Keep it up. Keep it up. Keep it up. They had a part to play, is what I'm trying to get you to see. Jesus, if we can agree together, is the only one who can raise the dead, physically and eternally. But they had to roll away the stone, and they had to take off his grave clothes. Jesus will never do for you what you can do for you. So he will do the impossible. He calls you to do the practical. He can raise the dead, but he wants us to roll stones, and to take off clothes, to take off grave clothes. We have a part to play in what God wants to do in this world. It also tells me that you can, at the same time, have life, but also need liberty. Lazarus now had life, but he was constrained.
So just because you've come to know Jesus doesn't mean you're entering into all the liberty he has for you. God wants you to have life, and liberty, and that successive freedom, that growth that comes over time and that involves other people, that involves community. You can't take those grave clothes off by yourself. You can't become yourself by yourself, all by your lonesome. You need other people around you. We have a part to play. You got to keep it up. Keep rapping. Keep taking off those grave clothes. Keep taking off the works of darkness. Keep taking off those things. We've got to keep growing, and keep changing, becoming more of who God wants us to be. You're not as happy as I mean you to be, Jesus is saying.
And then fourthly, what do we do when we're feeling like God let us down? We do what Jesus did, sobbing trembling, raging. The text says he lifted his eyes up. When God let's you down, look up because he is up to something. You might feel like a pawn, but God doesn't play checkers. He's always thinking two and three moves ahead. He's always doing this to get to that. He's up to this, over here. So what can we do in the midst of life's pains, and difficulties, and sufferings, the death and the sicknesses that are inevitable in our lives? What can we do? We can rejoice. We can glory in trouble. That's what Romans says. We glory in tribulations. He said this is not going to end in death. It's going to involve death. It's going to end in glory. My story is going to have sickness and death. People that God love are going to get sick and die, but that's not how this story ends. The story ends in glory.
So what do we do when we're in tribulations? We glory in tribulation, knowing he's creating perseverance, and character, and hope. And hope doesn't disappoint because God's love has been poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has given to us. So this story gives us a number of things. If you're in chaos and you're hurting today, it tells us we can hold on to hope. We can tell the truth. We can, like Mary, fall at his feet. We can be willing to let it out and not try and hold in emotions. And above all things, do whatever he tells you, no matter how weird it feels in the moment. And then we got to take care of our miracles. Miracles he gives to us, we have to take care of them. There's a part he did and a part that we have to play in it, as well. So what will we see, if we lift our eyes up? What will we see, higher than Mont Blanc, to look at the image, one more time, that we began with? We will lift our eyes, and every time the night is dark, unless it's a new moon, or it's foggy, or something, that moon's there, pointing up. Jesus lifted his eyes up.
The reason we've been in this series is because God gave us the moon. One of the reasons he gave it to us, according to Psalm 72:7, is to remind us he's a promise keeper, to remind us the scripture tells us very clearly, in God's days, the righteous will flourish, Psalm 72:7. Prosperity will abound when? Until the moon is no more. So I don't care how dark it has gotten in your world, in your life, in your family, in your situation. When you lift your eyes, if there is still a moon, he's not done. If there is still a moon, he's keeping his promise. If there's still a moon, he still wants to make you flourish. He still wants to make you thrive. He still wants to make you prosper.
There's a Bible on the moon. There is a Bible on the moon. Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott brought a small red Bible on his lunar mission. And when he finished parking the lunar rover 300 feet away from Falcon, the lunar module, he aimed a camera on Falcon's dash to see the lift-off, so that the world could see his lunar lander depart from the moon. And before he walked away, he pulled out a small red Bible. And he set it on the dashboard of the rover, in his words, so that someday, when someone else visits the moon, they will know who was here first. And they will see, here, there's a Bible on the moon. I love it because, every time you lift your eyes, if there's still a moon, he's going to do what he said he would do. Heaven and Earth will pass away before God's word is ever unfulfilled. There's a Bible on the moon.
So in your griefs, and in your sadnesses, and in your tears that Jesus joins into, he cried for you on that day. And he cried for Lazarus because he knew he was about to yank Lazarus out of paradise. He cried for Lazarus, who he knew would not want to come back and face pain again once he got to taste glory. If you're not dead, God's not done. And if you believe in Jesus, you will never die. And if you do die, he'll raise you from the dead at the last day, not like his resurrection. Jesus was resurrected on the third day. Psalm 16:10 said, the Holy One could not see corruption. It was believed corruption really began setting in on that fourth day. That's why Martha said, he stinks now. You and I will see corruption, physically. But our souls, eternally, if we believe in Christ while we live, we will be alive perpetually. And even when we do die, even when we step off this mortal coil, he will raise us from the dead, no matter how many years or thousands of years it is until that moment. What that means is, if we are in Christ, forever is ours.
Don't make this about the resurrection, the physical resurrection. Don't make this story just all about what God did for Lazarus, either, because then you'll see some sign and wonder, in your mind, is it exactly what he wants to do in this situation. The whole point of this is you never know exactly what he wants to do, but believe him anyway. This is not about Lazarus just getting out of that grave in the moment because he had to die again. The bigger miracle was the salvation of a soul. The bigger miracle that he wanted was for people to believe in him. And the only way that that could happen is if Jesus was willing to die. So Jesus, just like John F. Kennedy's death really galvanized the country in the space race, was willing to see Lazarus come out of the grave, for he knew that would be the straw that broke the camel's back on the Jewish leaders coming together. Verse 53 says, of John, chapter 11, from that moment on, they convinced themselves that the only way through this was to kill Jesus. So he did this, in this moment, to hasten his own death, burial, and resurrection, so he could call you and I out of our graves.
So Father, we thank you for the way we can lift our eyes up, trembling, shaking, troubled, but like Jesus, keeping our eyes on the skies.
And if you're here today and you're hurting, no matter where you are, what's going on in your world, what's going on in your life, could I just ask that you would just be honest enough to say, God, I'm hurting right now. I don't know what to do, so I choose to look to you. If that's you I'm describing, can you just raise up a hand? God'll see it. God'll see it. God'll to see it. Tell him. Tell him you're disappointed. Tell him you're frustrated. Tell him you're sad. Tell him you're sick. Tell him you're lonely. Tell him you're afraid. He hears you. He is with you. He is working glory in you. Thank you, Jesus. You can put your hands down.
Father, I pray a blessing on that honesty. I pray a blessing on that vulnerability. Nothing might change in our situations, but everything can change in our perspective. That, we control. That's the one thing.
If you're here today, or watching online, and you've never yet made a faith decision to give Jesus your heart, we want you to believe in him. If you believe in him, you'll have life in his name. If that's you I'm describing, I'm going to pray a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray it out loud, after me. God will hear you. God will come into your heart, and this moment will be a turning point, a salvation moment, a new beginning. Church, say it with us, no one praying alone, as many make a first-time commitment or perhaps, as a prodigal son or daughter, making a recommitment to God. Say this:
Dear God, I need you. I'm lost without you. I believe Jesus died for me, rose again from the dead. I believe that you are the resurrection and the life. You don't have what I need. You are what I need. So I give my life to you, in Jesus's name.