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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - John 11:1-35

Skip Heitzig - John 11:1-35

Skip Heitzig - John 11:1-35
Skip Heitzig - John 11:1-35
TOPICS: Expound, Gospel of John, Bible Study

When I was growing up, funerals creeped me out. My mother told me that it was because when I was quite young I had a classmate die. And we went to his funeral. And I was like in grade school at that time. My first experience with somebody that I knew, a classmate, especially, dying. And it was very unnerving. And to make it worse, for whatever reason, they made all of the students parade up to the open casket and see the dead child inside that coffin. And that can be quite unsettling for a child's first experience of death. To see somebody he or she knew as a classmate, and then now in that condition. The music was creepy. The flowers smelled bad. The lighting was weird. So those are the reasons I grew up just having an aversion to funerals.

Now, I'm a pastor so I do funerals. And I don't mind doing them. I love walking with people through the stages of life and being a comfort to them. But there have been some strange funerals that I've done. And I won't go into it more detail than to say one funeral that I did was a strange funeral because a gal came up to the casket, the open casket, and lifted the loved one out of the casket to give it a final embrace. And it was just really awkward. And of course the corpse wasn't cooperating in terms of being bendable and hugging the person back. So we sort of had to rush the casket to get her to release the corpse. And it's an odd way to start a funeral service.

I did a little reading and found an article about the weirdest funeral services on record. And I tell you, funeral directors can tell you stories. One funeral director said that he has known families who have requested that their loved ones not be in a casket, but assuming a pose that they would have seen in real life. So for instance, one gal sitting in her chair with her sunglasses on, with a cigarette in her hand, and a wineglass off to one side. Just sitting in this position in a chair with a table. Imagine coming into a room and seeing that. That'll wig you out.

One funeral director said the strangest request I ever got was a wife who asked me to duct tape that casket. On top of closing it, to duct tape it shut. And the funeral director asked why, and he goes I don't want that creep to get out. What do you say to somebody like that? We enter a funeral service in John 11. But you know, whenever Jesus went to a funeral service, it ends up very different. The dead people don't have a chance around Him.

And it's the story, a familiar story, one that is shared at many funerals, one that I have shared at many funerals. And it's going to end up very, very differently than how it begins. It's the funeral service of Jesus' close friend, good friend in life, named Lazarus. He has two sisters Mary and Martha. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were a close knit set of siblings who lived in a house close to Jerusalem in a town called Bethany.

Now some who have been to Israel go Bethany, Bethany. I don't think you took us to Bethany, Skip. I wish you would have. Well, when you stand on the Mount of Olives and you look toward Jerusalem, that's where everybody looks. If you were to stop dead in your tracks, sorry to use that dead in your tracks thing, and then turn backwards, do a 180 and look behind you. As the Mount of Olives slopes toward the east side, down toward the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, just on the other side of the Mount of Olives facing the east would be the little village of Bethany.

It was Jesus' home away from home. We know that Jesus' home was in Nazareth. And then His next home was in Capernaum that's where His headquarters was in living with Peter in his house. But while He was in Jerusalem, He stayed on the Mount of Olives with His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They were close friends. And Jesus is not there at the time that the death takes place.

This miracle sets Jesus apart from everyone else. Now Jesus has healed other people who are dead. He has raised them from the dead. But they were all different than this. You go, how different? Once you're dead, you're dead. They were different in this. When He raised the daughter of Jairus, Jairus the ruler of the synagogue up in Galilee, when He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, she had just died. When Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain in Galilee, he had just died, because they buried the same day as death. The funeral service was going on.

But by the time Jesus gets to this funeral, he has been in the tomb four days. Decomposition has already set in. That was Martha's complaint when Jesus will say roll away the stone. And Martha will say, and you really have to read it in the old King James to get the flavor and the punch of it. Martha said Lord, by now he stinketh. In other words, that process has set in. It's nasty business to open the tomb. The decomposition has done its work. And there is a mighty stench.

So the others, they died. But Lazarus has been dead four days. This separates anything that could be considered as a parlor trick to something that was legitimate in anybody's eyes. Everybody knew Lazarus has been dead. He's been dead now for four days. Whereas, before they could say well maybe that child wasn't dead all the way, maybe he was just dying or on its last breath. But Lazarus, the decomposition process had set in.

Now where we pick up in chapter 11 verse 1, is somewhere between December and April. How do we know this? We know this because the Feast of Dedication, which we read about in the previous chapter takes place in December. We know that in chapter 12, it will be the Feast of Passover. That is April. So somewhere between December and April, Lazarus gets sick and he dies. Jesus is down by the Dead Sea, we read last time in chapter 10 verse 40. He goes back to the place where He had been baptized by John the Baptist. So He's there with His disciples. He's in that place until the Passover. But He will get word about this sick friend of His.

Now I just want you to grasp something. What chapter are we in? 11. How many chapters are there in the Gospel of John? OK, well you could turn the page and find that out. 21. So we're about halfway in the book, right? The very next chapter of chapter 12, it's already the last week of Jesus' life. So that should give you an indication of how the Gospel writers did their work.

Let me frame it for you. If you were to tally up the number of chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, last count that I counted was 89 chapters in those four gospels. 89 chapters. Of the 89 chapters that present the life and ministry of Jesus, 85 of the 89 are focused on the last three to 3 and 1/2 years of Jesus' ministry. Of those 85 chapters, 27 deal only with the last eight days of his life.
And the reason for that is quite clear. The whole purpose of the Gospel is to tell you the Gospel. That Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. So you're going to find the Gospel writers focus in on that. Those are the high points. That's the big stuff, His atonement, his suffering, His death and His resurrection.

So how Jesus spent his child years isn't important to the authors. What is important is what He said and what He did, especially when it comes to His death and His burial and His resurrection. So here we are halfway in the Gospel of John. And John will spend as much time on the last week of Jesus' life as he did on the first 33 years of Jesus' life. That's the focus. That's the emphasis.

So it says in verse 1 "No a certain man was sick Lazarus of Bethany the town of Mary and her sister Martha." Let me refresh your memory. The most famous story we have of Martha and Mary comes from Luke 10. It says that Jesus came to their house for dinner. Martha welcome Jesus in. And it says Martha was serving while Mary sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. You remember that story? And it says Martha was distracted with her much serving. And she came to Jesus with a complaint. She said Jesus, my sister is just sitting around. And I'm doing all the work. She has left all of the serving to me. Tell her to help me.

And you know, our Lord responded and said to her Mary has chosen the better part which will not be taken away from her. Martha you are distracted and troubled with much serving. And Mary has chosen the better part. That is not to say that serving the Lord is wrong and sitting around is better. Some people like that story for that reason. And you can make anything a proof text in the Bible.

In fact, I like Martha. I like the fact that she's on her feet serving the Lord. I like people who are active serving the Lord. Anybody can pontificate and be an armchair pastor. Well, you know, if I was in charge, I would do this. Well there you are sitting on the couch eating your Fritos get up and do something. Armchair quarterbacking happens every week when there's a football game. Stupid player. When was the last time you tried that run on the football field, buddy?

So it's not that Martha's serving was wrong and Mary what she did was the best apart from serving. I see a combination of both, a balance of both, as important. Jesus' point was this. I'm here. Martha I'm here. And while I'm here, that's where your sister is. She's worshiping me. She's hearing what I have to say. But if you can strike a balance in your life between serving the Lord and sitting with the Lord and hearing His word, it's a good balance. That's the most famous story and so they're brought up because that's a point of reference.

"It was that Mary", verse 2, "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 into death but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

Tragedy has pushed its way into this family. We don't know what it is. We don't know what the sickness was. But some sickness happened. And immediately the girls thought of Jesus. Bring Jesus here. If Jesus were here, He could take care of this. He would take care of this. And of course, it was awesome to be around Jesus, was it not? Think of all the things Jesus did that blew his disciples away. And so you're always on the winning team when Jesus is there.

I love the story in Galilee when they were collecting taxes. And Peter says, Lord, we have an emergency. They are collecting taxes. We don't have any money to give them. Jesus said sure you do. Go down to the lake. Pull out a fish. And the first fish you pick up will have a coin in it. Go pay your taxes with it. Handy guy to have around, especially around April, tax season.

But Jesus is not there. They're distressed. Their answer? Go get Jesus. And notice, notice the basis of their appeal. Lord, the one whom you love is sick. Hey, that's a good model for you when you pray. If you're sick, say Lord, the one whom you love is sick. Don't you love that? That's how you want to view it. The one whom you love, Lord, is sick.

We know that John calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved. He refers to himself as that. Here, these girls say the one whom you love is sick. It's not John. This is Lazarus. Which gets me to think that Jesus probably often said to people you know I love you. You know I love you. And so they refer to him as the one whom you love is sick. So I love the basis of their appeal.

It's not Lord, we who love you or he who loves you is sick. The basis for their appeal is not well, you know, Lord, whenever you're in Jerusalem you do stay at our house quite often. And we do feed you lots of meals. That's a lot of food at our own expense. We never charge you for a room. And you know, the gals they listen to everything you've said and taught. So we think you owe us one.

It's simply, Lord, your property is in danger. The one whom you love is sick. And I love the basis of that appeal. And it could be that they were surprised, behold, like, hey, somebody that you love is sick.

Now I want you to notice this. Because some of you may be suffering from a wrong theology that says if Jesus loves me and I love Him, I as a Christian believer should never experience sickness. That is a popular teaching. It has been for years. So here we see it's possible for Jesus to love someone and for that someone that Jesus loves to actually experience physical sickness. It's important that you realize that. Sickness happens to all people, all people.

Even faith healers who say, if you have enough faith, you never have to be sick, Hallelujah. But just follow them and watch them and find out what they die of. Everyone dies of their last disease.

There's some condition that the medical record would have as to why that person perished. They didn't just float up to heaven with a smile on their face. Everybody experiences death. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. People that Jesus love, they get sick. Tragedy happens to them. Jesus heard that. "And He said this sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

Verse 5. "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." Lord, this guy that you love is sick. Well, Jesus loved Lazarus and Martha and Mary, loved them all. Now you notice the word love is used twice. There are two different words here for love.

The first word, the word they use in the letter to Jesus to summon Him is the word... which means friendship love. The word where John says Jesus loved Lazarus and Martha and Mary is a different word it's... It's a divine, unconditional, godly, incessant, sacrificial love. OK? And that second the use of the word love is in the imperfect tense in the Greek language, which means it is unending. It is never ceasing. It is ongoing.

So let me translate it for you. They sent Him a note, or a messenger comes, Lord your good buddy, your friend, the one that you are fond of in a friendship manner, he is sick. Now Jesus, continually, incessantly, loved with a sacrificial deep love Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. OK? So that's important.
Look at verse 6. "So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was." The word so could be translated therefore. Now listen to how this sounds. Jesus with that ongoing, sacrificial, incessant God-like manner loved these people, therefore, He didn't come when they called Him. Therefore, He stayed put for two more days.

That doesn't make sense to us. We think it ought to read something like since Jesus loved them so much, He immediately did what they asked and went to the aid of Lazarus to make sure he wouldn't die or get sicker. No. It's because Jesus loved them, His delay is tied to His love for them.

Here's what you need to know God's delays are not denials. In fact, if you start evaluating a delay from God, first of all that's a misnomer, there are no delays from God. What you perceive as a delay from God doesn't say anything about His timing. It says a lot about yours. God is never late. You're early.

He's always on time. Peter said the Lord is not slow concerning His promise as some men count slowness. He does things with a perfect timetable.

So He loved them in an imperfect tense, or an ongoing, incessant, unconditional manner. Therefore, He stayed two more days, stayed where He was. "And then after this, He said to His disciples, let us go to Judea again." He wanted to make sure the Lazarus was not just dead, but good and dead. Really dead. Not mostly dead, all dead. Right?

Mary and Martha are going to get angry when they see Jesus, especially Martha. Mary not so much. I'll show you why. But Martha will. She'll be angry. And you'll hear it in her voice.

And here's her mistake. And I wonder if it's yours. It's sometimes mine. We have a tendency to interpret the love of God through our circumstances rather than interpreting our circumstances through the love of God. You see what I'm saying?

Well, Jesus didn't show up. He must not love me. No, no, no. He loves you and so he's going to delay. Learn to interpret your circumstances always through the lens of the love of God. God loves you. Therefore, He's allowed this to happen. Well, why would He allow this to happen? This is bad. Oh, be careful what you assign as bad. It actually may be good.

You don't know the whole story. You don't see the big picture. They didn't see the big picture. What they wanted was a resuscitation of Lazarus. Jesus wanted a resurrection of Lazarus. Which do you think is better? Yeah. I mean which is like super cool? A resuscitation, well that would be awesome because he'd never die. Woo hoo. Awesome. But a resurrection, that's the big picture.

I was watching, I was channel surfing, I don't really watch. So I was channel surfing. And something caught my attention. So I decided to watch it for a minimal amount of time, longer than my quick perusal. And it was an artist with a blank canvas. And he was going to paint a picture for the audience very quickly he said.

Well he started putting paint on this canvas. And he put these colors on in blotches. And honestly, I looked at it. And I thought, as he was doing it, I could do that. He just phut, phut. It's like you're taking up television time to do this? I just thought it was not really good. Well as I waited a little longer, and he moved quickly, suddenly I saw trees. I saw a lake. I saw more trees and mountains. And then light filtering its way into the picture and highlighting certain objects.

And at the end I went, wow. Now what I discovered is the artist saw that going in. That's what it revealed to me. He knew what he was going to create at the beginning with just the blotches on the canvas. I didn't. I had to wait and see it.

And so often, life is like that. We see a blotch here and a blotch there. And I say boy my life is pretty blotchy. Yeah, but wait for it, wait for it, wait for it. Foom. Wow. I didn't expect that.
Of course, you didn't. You couldn't see it. The artist, God, you are His workmanship, His poema. He sees the big picture. You and I don't. That's why we have to trust. That's why we wait. The Lord is never late. Perfect timing when He shows up.

So Jesus says "Let us go to Judea again," verse 7.

Verse 8, "The disciples said to Him, Rabbi lately the Jews sought to stone You and You are going there again?" Now that brings up what we read last time and a couple times before. Twice in the last few chapters, one in chapter 10, when Jesus said before Abraham was, I am. And then Jesus said I and my Father are one. Both times they picked up stones to kill Him. And the last time in chapter 10, He said what good work do you stone Me for? And they said not for a good work, but because You being a man continually make yourself God.

So they left. They're down by the Dead Sea. And between December and April, that's where you want to hang out. It's like going to Palm Springs or Phoenix in the winter time. It's nice and warm and dry and mild. Anyway, I digress.

They remember the incident. They remember the stones being picked up. They remember how close it seemed in Jerusalem. And so they protest. Rabbi they wanted to stone You. They're going to stone You there again. Verse 9, "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 this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles because the light is not in him."

The Jewish day was divided into two segments of 12 hours and 12 hours. And in the highlight of the summer, the middle of the summer, there are 12 hours of daylight, 12 hours of darkness. So it's an even split. So that's how they kept time.

As it's getting nearer Passover, there is literally that 12 hours and 12 hours. So the day was divided that way. And Jesus is simply saying while it's daylight you do your work. Once you don't have light to see what you're doing, you don't do the work anymore, you can't do it. They didn't have flashlights like we have. And they didn't go out and work with lanterns. They called it quits.

He's referring to His own ministry. He knows that His hour is coming. Very shortly, next few months, it'll be Passover time and He will go to the cross. He has a limited amount of time. It is daylight. It is the prescribed day of the Lord in the sense that He is there as the Messiah to work these works. And the night is coming.

Beyond that, there is a principle for us. You and I have a task, a life task. You and I have a life work, a calling from God. Some of you don't know that yet, or you haven't discovered what that calling for your life in particular is. But you have one. I'm convinced you have one. You have a task that only you can fulfill very uniquely in the body of Christ. And the reason God has you in the world is to fulfill that task.

Your joy, your fulfillment, your satisfaction is directly proportional to your discovery of that task and your obedience to that calling. Find out what it is. Because you have a day to work in. You can't extend the day longer than it is. You can't say, well, today I want 14 hours of sunlight. You can't do that.

You have a prescribed period of time to live on this earth. Today may be your last night for some of us. Might be my last night. I never know. We never know, correct? So we have to work while it's light. As Jesus, in another place, said the night is coming when no man can work.

So he's going to go up to Jerusalem. He's going to perform in Bethany and perform this resurrection. He uses this metaphor of I have a time that is set. But so do we. I believe, I believe that you are invincible. That nothing can happen to you until God's done with you. And then, when the day is done, your day, whatever day, whatever time, that when your day is done, who wants to hang here anyway?
Once it's done, once you've fulfilled what God has put you on Earth to do, who wants to let it linger on past that time? Some people will say, oh, he died. And he's in heaven enjoying God forever and ever, how horrible. They won't say that, but,

When I'm done, man, I'm done. I'm ready. I'm ready for the new life with the Lord in His presence. And you're invincible until that time. You say, you use that word invincible, I don't think you know what that word means.

Well in Revelation 11, there are two characters known as the two witnesses. Are you familiar with them? And do you know that it says God says, I will give power to my two witnesses that they can prophesy 1,260 days. So a time limit is given to them to prophesy 1,260 days. They have the power to shut up heaven so it doesn't rain during the days of their prophecy. They have the power to turn the water into blood.

And it says and when their prophesying is over, when they're done. It says then, the beast comes out, you know what? Sometimes you try to quote it and you should just read it because you don't get it all the way. So here it is. Right here. "When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them."

Now when will that happen? When they have finished their testimony, not until then. It's not, well, they almost finished their testimony, but the devil got them. No. They will prophesy 1,260 days. And when they're done, as God calls it done, finished their testimony. Then the beast ascends out of the pit, makes war against them, and kills them. Then and only then. So you and I have a life task. Find out what it is. Get engaged in it. Get fulfilled by doing it.

"These things He said. And after this He said to them our friend Lazarus sleeps. But I go that I may wake him up. And his disciples said to Him, Lord, if he sleeps, he will get well. However, Jesus spoke of his death. But they thought he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly Lazarus is dead."

When Jesus said Lazarus is sleeping, He did not refer to soul sleep. I don't know if you've heard that term. But there's a belief that when a person dies, a believer dies, that their soul kind of goes into a suspended state. Their soul is unconscious. They're asleep for thousands of years until the end times. Not so. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

So that doesn't happen. He's not referring to that. He's referring to the appearance of the body at death. If somebody dies in front of you, and I've watched people die, the appearance is their body goes limp at first is they're sleeping. It's what it looks like.

And so that's a euphemism. It is used in the scripture. In the Old Testament, it says and they slept with their fathers. It is used in the New Testament of Stephen after he was martyred in Jerusalem. It says and he fell asleep. And that term is used not because it's soul sleep, but that is the appearance, physically, of the body.

In cultures where death was seen out in the open, not like ours, they use language like this. I've been to India where death is a part of life. And if you walk down the street in some of the villages in southern India, you'll see casket shops. And they'll have the caskets right out on the Main Street, just sort of propped up, different sizes, different lengths, different widths, different materials.

And the idea is that you go shopping. And you just sort of size it up. I went there one time and said can you find one to fit me? And they go ooh. Yeah, You're a little tall for anything they had there.

So it just fascinated me that these caskets, which would creep us out to see them just sort of at a, here's a shop where you buy gum and then there's caskets right next to it. And it's just so people, they got time, they look it. And they go, yeah, I'm kind of getting up there. You pick a casket, put it on a layaway plan, I guess. And then they will lay you away in that casket when your time comes up.

But when a person dies and the funeral service is conducted out in the streets, like it was in Israel in ancient times, very similar to that, the body is placed up on a cot or a mat and carried through the streets. And the appearance is that of somebody sleeping.

And so they thought Jesus was at first, just talking about he fell asleep. He took a nap. He's sick. And he's kind of in a long sleep so he'll wake up. But Jesus was speaking euphemistically. So he just made it really plain, so they wouldn't misunder, they're fishermen. So He goes he's dead. Oh. OK. Now they got it.

"Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there." That's an interesting thing for Jesus to say. He's dead and I'm glad that I was not there. You wouldn't picture Jesus, or think of Jesus saying, he's dead and I am glad that I was not there. But He is glad that He was not there for your sake He said "that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to him. Then, Thomas, who is called the twin,"

Who is he the twin of? Me, you. You've been just like him before. So have I. We've reflected much of what he thinks in our own thoughts at times.

"Thomas who is called the twin said to his fellow disciples let us also go that we may die with Him." I have often called Thomas the Eeyore of the disciples. If this were Winnie the Pooh, he is Eeyore. He always sees the dark side of things. You know they want to kill you up there. Let's go, and we'll die with Him. Oh, thanks, Tom.

You know, Thomas, doubting Thomas, we always call him doubting Thomas. And we refer to people who doubt as doubting Thomases, because Thomas is like the patron Saint of all skeptics. He saw the dark side of things. If Thomas would have had personalized license plates on his chariot, they would be Missouri plates, the show me state. He was the show me disciple. Yeah, I don't believe it, show me.

When Jesus rose from the dead. Peter and John said He's alive, He's risen. He goes, I'm not going to believe it. I have to put my fingers, my hand,I've got to touch those wounds. I have to see this for myself. Yeah, but but Peter and John saw it. Yeah, but I know those guys. I need to see it for myself.
Now he does see the dark side. He is the doubter. He is the skeptic. But at the same time, I've just got to be honest with you, I like him. What I like about him is he's loyal, number one. If indeed they thought they were going to die, he's loyal enough to say well let's go die with Him. That's loyalty. Instead of I'm feeling a little sick. I'm going to stay behind. So he's loyal.

He's courageous to say this. And he's also honest. What I love about Thomas more than any other attribute is he was honest. If he didn't get something, he wouldn't just try to act really spiritual and go oh, that's cool. He would just say I don't get it.

So in John 14, that very famous passage, let your hearts be troubled Jesus said, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not, so I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you may be also. And where I'm going you know. And the way you know.

Thomas said, I don't know where you're going. I don't know how to get there.

Don't you love that? I'm sure the other disciples are kind of just like Jesus is talking. They're nodding their heads going, yeah, that's good. That's really good. Thomas goes I don't get it. And I'm sure the other disciples thought we don't get it either, but we don't want to say we don't get it. At least we're going to act spiritual and go yeah, mane, amen.

And I am so glad that Thomas said that. Don't know where you're going. Don't know how to get there. I'm glad he said that. You know why?

Because after that Jesus answered it with one of the greatest proclamations ever that may not have been in the scripture unless he said that. Because right after that, Jesus said I am the way, the, truth the life. No man comes to the Father but by me. Thomas thank you for bringing up that objection so Jesus could say that.

So I don't know about y'all, but I like him. "Let's go that we may die with Him." So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been dead in the tomb, or 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. Then, Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him. But Mary was sitting in the House now Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

Can you hear the disappointment in her words? "If You would have been here, my brother wouldn't have died." Now I have to say there's a statement of faith there. The statement of faith is had You been present, You would have healed him. That's faith. You would have healed him. So it's a statement in the ability of Jesus to perform miracles.

At the same time, it's a limiting statement. If You have been here, in other words, You could have done something four days ago. Window of opportunity is gone. You can't do anything now, he's dead. So there's a statement of faith, but there's also a statement of limitation in what Jesus is able to do.
Now when a person dies, during a period of grief at a time of loss, the people left behind go through a gamut of emotion. If you've taken counseling courses in grief, this is basic, this is Grief 101.

Years ago Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, her seminal work on grief and grieving, she noted and, others have noted, that a person during a time of loss goes through five distinct stages of grief. First one being denial, you hear something that something bad happened. Your loved one died. You go no. Must be a mistake. Not true. I think you didn't get your facts right. Go check again. Must be somebody else. Denial. That's the first initial reaction.

The second one is anger. People get angry at doctors for not saving their loved one, angry at a nurse for not being there, angry at themselves. Why did I do this? I could have prevented this. Anger at God.
Third stage bargaining. Lord, please, please, please, please. I'll do anything. Please don't let this happen. Don't let this be true. You start going through a bargaining stage.

Then, the next stage is depression. A person after it all sets in, they just sink to such a low. So dark they can't see any light at the other end of that tunnel. It's just so bad, so bleak.

The fifth stage, says Ross and others, is acceptance. You finally come to terms with it. You deal with it. It's still painful. But you come to accept it, talk about it, work your way through it.

When a person is going through grief, at whatever stage, what they say and how they act is completely unpredictable. Unless you are an unshockable person and you've had experience in this, you could actually be detrimental. As somebody would just lash out and go why would God do that? I don't love God.

Or whatever they would say, they could say certain things based out of anger. And you might go ooh, I can't believe you said that. And you could actually start rebuking them. Wrong. Bad form. Go somewhere else. Have a Hershey bar or something. But don't be here. You're not helpful.

So she says if You would have been here, my brother wouldn't have died. "But even now I know that whatever you ask God, God will give You." I think she's kind of going between this is how I really feel. Oh, wait a minute, this is probably what I should say. Oh, wait a minute. I'm really angry. Oh, but praise God.

And notice verse 23, Jesus said to her "Your brother will rise again." Jesus doesn't rebuke her. He gives a short, positive little statement. Just a little your brother will rise again. He could have rebuked her, but again He wouldn't because He knew what was going on inside of her.

He could have said I can't believe you would say that. I was going to raise your brother from the dead, but I don't think I'm going to do now. None of that. Just this little positive affirmation, your brother will rise again.

"Martha said to Him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last days." She knew Daniel 12. She knew her scriptures. She knew enough of her Hebrew theology to say I believe in the resurrection. Yeah, in the sweet by and by, one day, I get all that. I get all that.

Can I just state for the record if one day you hear that I am dying or even that I have died, don't you dare pray me back. Because I'll come to get you if you do.

Now we're going to go through this story. And we're going to probably, well we are going to finish it next time, but you know let's say I was to die tonight. And for four days, I'm dead. And you have a prayer meeting. And you pray me back. now for four days, I've just been in heaven. I'm going wow, wow, wow. That's probably my most used words for the first four days. Wow, I'm seeing everything. This is awesome.

And then, God would say, yeah, but we have a little problem. There's a group down there that's been praying that you'd come back. Well you told them, no, right? No. I'm going to answer this one. You're going back. No, no. Yes. You're leaving heaven. And you're going back to New Mexico.

You get my drift, right? I'm coming after you, man. That's why I always thought reincarnation it's such a drag. So many people believe in reincarnation. What a horrible theological stance to take. There's a lot of stuff I don't want to go through again. Fifth grade rejected by Patti Quinn. I don't want to go through that again. High school English. Don't want to do that again. Braces aah. No, thank you. OK.

I digress. Back to the story. "Martha said to Him, I know that he will rise again at the resurrection of the last day. Jesus said to her", here it is. Here it is. This is the nugget. "...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." It's the fifth I am statement of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Powerful statement. Proclaiming His Deity. I am the resurrection and the life.

Interesting. Because resurrection is an event. But here Jesus takes it from the event status and assigns it to the person status. Instead of saying resurrection is an incident that happens to people, resurrection is a person that happens to people. I am the resurrection and the life. Wherever I am, I bring life. So whether it's at Lazarus' death or your death, He is the resurrection and the life.

And notice, "whoever believes in me, though he die, he will live. And who ever lives and believes in me will never die." One day, when you hear the news report that Skip Heitzig died, don't believe it. Not true. He's taking a little nap. He'll awaken on resurrection day. He's very alive in the presence of God. Don't say he died. Here's the accurate statement, he moved. He moved.

It's inaccurate to say somebody died. Jesus said you'll never die if you believe in me. I love Christian funerals because I get to say that at a funeral. This person isn't dead. He just moved. He got a transfer. OK? He got a promotion. He left the tenement. Don't pray him back to New Mexico. He's in heaven. He's alive.

And then Jesus asks a question to her. Do you believe this? Isn't that good? Now this is the truth. This is the statement I am the resurrection and the life. And whoever believes Me will never die. I know that to be true because Jesus is Jesus and He made a true statement. But after the true statement, He brings a question. Do you believe this?

Whenever I do a funeral, and I often preach on this text, I ask this question, and I deliberately look into the audience. Now, when I look into the audience, like I'm looking at you right now, I see very different faces at a funeral.

But when I share the Gospel, I say do you believe this? And I can see in their eyes if they do. Their eyes answer me back if they do. Their eyes, though all tearful, all sad, some of them their eyes are like glazed over all this truth is just like it's out there just kind of hovering around, but they don't get it. They don't see it. They have no belief system that's of any real value. So it's just like buzzzzch.

Other people, you look in their eyes, you know they're filled with sorrow. But it's not like a sorrow without hope. They have hope built into that sorrow. And they are being I believe this. I believe this. I believe, makes all the difference at a funeral, at a death.

You can really tell who a person is whenever there's a death. Have a person stare into the face of death and you'll get a real read on what that person believes in. They can say Hallelujah all their lives, at death that will be the litmus test. Do you believe this? Jesus asked.

"She said to Him, yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Messiah, the Messiah, the Son of God who is to come into the world. When she said these things, she went her way 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 the town but was in the place where Martha met Him. 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's going to the tomb to weep there. Then when Mary came where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell down at His feet", we always see her at the feet of Jesus, "saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

Now what they said sounds the same. But there's a difference. Can you detect the difference? Martha went out being the one who stood up to serve in Luke 10, comes out and, I can't prove it. But just because Mary fell down at the feet, Martha stood there. I'm picturing she stood like this. Or maybe like this, like in the pictures. I don't know. Anyway, just kind of stood there. If You would have been here, my brother wouldn't have died.

Mary says the thing same thing, but she's down at the feet of Jesus. It's where she always is. She's worshipping. Now listen to this. When life was calm, when life was good, when there's a dinner party and Jesus is there, Mary's at the feet of Jesus. When life is calm, but when life is a calamity, she's also at the feet of Jesus. Broken hearted, yes. Same questions, yes. But in worship.

How you face death will be determined by what posture and position you take before Jesus. Will you worship Him and praise Him even though you don't understand this? Even though this is a heart break? Even though you lost someone and this is pulling your heart out? But I'm at your feet where I belong. And I worship you. That's the safest place. It's the place of comfort that I know. Or will you stand and accuse Him. If you would have been here. True. But, there's worship here.

"Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the Spirit and was troubled." There's several things about this story that are odd. This is one of them. It says He groaned in the spirit. OK. So listen to this. This word, in the Greek language, this word groaned is only found a couple of times in the Greek New Testament. The literal meaning of the word means the snorting of a horse. It is a word used in other places, I mentioned just a couple of times, for a scolding or a strong stern rebuke. But, literally, it means the snorting of a horse. It's funny.

When I first married Lenya and she got frustrated, she would use the word that I only saw written out in cartoon captions. The word G-R-R-R-R-R-R, grrrrrrr. She'd go grrrrrr. And I remember going did you just say the word grrrrrr like a cartoon word? And I've seen people who get angry and they go grrrrrr.
So that's the idea. Jesus stood there and He was grrrrrr. It's a word that denotes a response of anger. He's angry at something. Jesus is troubled in spirit and He groaned hmmmm. Why?

We beg to know why? We wonder why. Why is He troubled? What is He angry at? He's angry at death, I believe. He's looking at, and he's involved in this experience, this human experience, come from heaven to the earth. He's watching what never should have been part of the experience in life. This was not part of the plan. Death was never in the design of God. It was always life, life, life, life. What happened in the garden brought death. That is not God's design. He is angry at death caused by sin that brings this kind of deep loss. He's angry at what He sees.

You know, death makes us angry. Makes us spooked out, if you're a kid. Makes us angry as an adult. No. This shouldn't have happened. Man, I got ripped off. I'm disappointed by it. Jesus agrees with you. He enters into your experience. Our problem is we are powerless to do anything about it. He will do something about that. But His first is an emotional response where He grieves.

"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." Shortest verse in the Bible. Charles Spurgeon said it's a verse that you can't just read, you have to feel. He preached two sermons on this verse. He says there's more in this verse than could ever be contained in two sermons. He could have preached more, but he preached two sermons on Jesus wept. Two distinct messages. What is there? What is the meaning of this? That's what we're going to take up next time. Oh! Now, now, now. Wait till you see the big picture.
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