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John 11 Breakdown: The Death and Resurrection of Lazarus

This blog post is to share my through on this passage that I have written down through my personal God time. I'm praying that you either get something out of these notes that can be applied to your own walk with God and that he shows you what you need to be shown as you read today.

We will be breaking down John 11:1-44, if you have a bible with you or want to use your phone or computer, read through these verses before continuing.

John 11: The Death and Resurrection of Lazarus.

“3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus,” Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said,” This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.” 

There are 2 things we need to catch from these verses:

  1. How everything happened was aligned to bring glory to the Father.

Why didn’t Jesus just heal him? We’ve seen him do it many times before. Matthew 15:30 He healed the lame, crippled, blind, and mute. Luke 4:40 he laid his hands on each one of those brought to him who had sickness and various diseases and healed them. Mark 6:56 the sick were brought to the market place when Jesus was there and when they touched his cloak they were healed. And we can’t forget about the woman in Luke 8:47 who had been bleeding for 12 years touched the edge of his cloak and was healed immediately. So what makes this time any different?

  • Because Jesus was known for healing people it was completely natural for us to just assume that’s what he would do and because it had been witnessed the people knew he was capable of it which made us comfortable with that assumption. 

 Assuming something of someone can be very dangerous.You’re expecting someone who does not think exactly how you think to do something exactly how you would do it. This is a bad habit we humans practice frequently with each other. But when we assume that we know what God is going to do and how he is going to do it we need to remember that we won’t fully know God’s plan until he sees that we’re ready to be shown.

  • Stop putting your thoughts before his will and limiting what you think he can do.

God is the almighty. The King of  Kings and Lord of Lords. He is capable of anything and is without limitation. So if that’s the case then why would we settle for the plans which are with limitations and are with flaws when we have access to a plan greater than we could ever hope to imagine? A perfect plan.

  • If we relinquish control to the Lord and let him do what he does he is going to blow your mind.

All we need to do is say Lord use me how you see fit and let your will be done.

  • To make this all really simple, submit to His plan completely and watch Him work.

2) He declared that the sickness would not end in death.

  • He only told us what we needed to know.

When we read a little further into the story, spoiler alert, Lazarus dies. In fact, not only did he die but he was dead for four days and placed in a tomb…

Can you imagine what people were thinking? “The heck Jesus…. You said he wouldn’t die.” 

  • Jesus never said Lazarus wouldn’t die, he said the sickness would not end, would not finish in death. 

  • Jesus would not have said this if it wasn’t true. Why? He’s perfect. Duh. He does not lie, he doesn’t make mistakes and nothing catches him by surprise.

 So why would he declare something like that without explaining what he meant? Let’s say I asked you to contact someone for me and you said,” Ok, I will call them at exactly 3pm and if I don’t hear anything from them within the hour, I will call again at 4pm.” I don’t really have to trust that you’re going to contact that person because you have given me a specific plan as to how you are going to do what I have asked. But, if I asked you to get in contact with this person and you just say,” Ok, they will be contacted.”, I am left with multiple ways as to how you will handle the task I have given you. You could call, text, email, facetime, fax, send a letter, use a walkie talkie, maybe make one of those can and string phones that kids play with I don’t know. The point is because you did not explain or show me how you were going to do it I have no reassurance as to when or if you will plan to get it done. All I can do is trust that you are going to carry out what I have asked you to do. I HAVE TO TRUST YOU.

  • God doesn’t always reveal his plans right away because the mystery invokes trust.

When he withholds details from you, it’s usually him asking for you to trust him regardless of your knowledge (which in doing so, draws you in closer with him).

 Lean not on our own understanding but fully submit to him Proverbs 3:5-6 

“11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them,” Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied,” Lord, if he sleeps he will get better.” 13  Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “ Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

This part doesn’t really have anything to do with my notes. I just thought it was kind of funny. Just seeing this play out in my head is hysterical to me. Jesus knows that Lazarus is dead but wants to be all mysterious and suave like a detective in CSI or something. He smolders, takes off his sunglasses slowly and in a deep voice he says,” Lazarus is asleep…. But I am going there to wake him up ”. But the disciples are not getting it, it’s just not clicking with them and they completely throw off Jesus’ grove when they say “but if he sleeps he will get better.” And Jesus being frustrated that they ruined the moment is just like, He’s dead ok. He’s not asleep, he’s dead. I don’t know, I just found that that was funny. Anyway back to it.

21” Lord,” Martha said to Jesus,” if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 22 Jesus said to her,” Your brother will rise again.”

At first it sounds like Martha is a little bitter with Jesus, that’s understandable. But even though she had a reason to be upset with him she did not let that cloud her image of who Jesus was and what he could do. 

  • Despite her circumstance she still chose to believe in what Jesus had said.

Put yourself in Martha’s sandel’s for a minute, her brother just died. Not only did he die but he did so after Jesus (the only man that could heal him) said the sickness would not end in death, yet she still believed in Jesus that he would heal her brother. 

  • Her faith was not shaken even in the midst of her grief.

The closest example I can give is a loved relative being diagnosed with cancer or some other form of life threatening illness, you take them to the hospital because that’s where you know you can go for help. You trust the doctors to take care of your loved one and maybe find a way to cure them. They tell you that your loved one will survive and you trust them because they’re the professionals, but then shortly after you got the good news that gave you hope, they pass away. Wouldn’t you struggle with some bitterness towards that doctor? I did, when my grandpa passed away. They were treating him for cancer. After a small battle with it he won, grandpa beat his cancer, the doctor told us he was clear of it and was going to be ok, they just needed to keep him overnight so he could get some rest. So because the doctor told us that grandpa was going to be ok I went home to get some sleep. Dad woke me up around 3am and told me grandpa was not going to make it because there was a blood clot in his lung. When they turned the machine off and grandpa passed I remember feeling so angry. I was mad at the doctor who said he was going to be ok. He told me my grandpa was going to be fine and now he’s gone. I was mad because I felt betrayed. Like he had lied to me. I didn’t stay mad for long though because I knew they did everything they could and I was just upset because I love my grandpa and I didn’t want to say goodbye.

And like me, I’m sure Martha had her time of emotions calling the shots, but Martha knew that Jesus could do anything and she knew that He could ask God for anything and she never asked any questions either because she didn’t need to know what he was going to do.

  • She didn’t have to understand everything to believe that Jesus would keep his promise.

I was listening to a sermon one time, on the interweb… and the man who was speaking is the father of a 4 year old little girl. He was telling this story about how one day his daughter asked him if when she turns 5 would her mommy and daddy take her to disney world. At the time he was working on something and while being distracted by it he answered,” Yeah sure baby no problem.”. That little girl happily reminded her daddy about the promise he made every single day leading up to her birthday. 

  • She was not concerned about how they were getting there, she wasn’t worried about how much money it was going to cost, all she cared about was that her daddy would come through and keep his promise. This is exactly what Martha was doing in this situation.

 But for real. If y’all could just pray for that guy and his wife their little girl is about to turn 5 and that means they going to disneyland.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept.

The Shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus Wept”. Why?

  1. There would be no story.

Yes it would be another miracle of Jesus healing a sick man recorded in scripture but this story is set apart from the rest because it is so powerful and there is so much we need to take away from it. 

  1. If he had just healed Lazarus, it would not have been in line with the Father's will.

Everything that Jesus does is in line with the will of the Father. Therefore how everything happened as we know it was the will of the Father. 

  1. Just because it’s in line with the Father’s will, does not mean it won’t be hard or it won’t hurt.

Would it have been easier to just heal Lazarus? Absolutely.  It would have saved  the family and friends of Lazarus the hurt of mourning him, but God’s timing is perfect as is his will, this story has and still is impacting people simply because everything happened as is. Jesus wept because he saw the hurt in his children and he cares. We need to remember this when things don’t go the way we expect or prayers aren’t answered the way we are hoping for, the will of the Father is perfect and good even when we can’t see it and we must never forget that He cares so much for us and what we go through. But again it all comes back to trusting him to use every hurt, every emotional experience, every trial we face to bring glory to him and make him known.

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

Alright look, this is the man who has performed many miracles including changing water into wine,  healing the sick, feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and walking on water and you’re going to tell me that he can’t move a stone away from the opening of a cave?.... C’mon son.

So I guess the big question is, why did he ask them to do what he could have done with the wave of his hand? I mean, on average at this time the weight of a stone that would be used to cover the entryway of a tomb was roughly 1-2 tons. And he just says, move it boys… Hey you, be a stud and just push this out of the way for me would ya. WHAT? There has to be a reason, yes the reason is very simple. 

  • He wanted us to be a part of the miracle

We can ask him for anything, but don’t expect to just sit there comfortably while he waits on us. Remember who serves who. He will help us always, he will save us always but we have got to be willing to put in the work he has for us. Stop being lazy Church! He wants us to be a part of the miracle. Are we ready to get our hands dirty? Are we ready to remove the stone so he can keep his promises?

  • It’s very easy to forget who we are as servants to Christ

How often do we go about our lives and don’t really make time for God until we’re having a bad day or week? So then we pray for him to fix it.” I’m struggling right now can you just make it all better?”,”I’m having a bad day can you just fix it for me?” If you are comfortable with a life that only includes God when you have a problem, you will never fully receive the blessings and plans that he has for you. Listen to me, God is not your bad day bandaid. He is not to be only relevant to you when it’s convenient. We are to be constantly longing for him,  in communion with him, in true repentance to him, and if we are successful in that then we will be successful when we do what he calls us to do. And I’m not saying that we won’t have bad days but  when we do, do not pray for Jesus to just fix it for us, pray that he gives us the strength and provision we need to handle what we are supposed to handle and trust that he will handle what he is going to handle. HE WILL ALWAYS COME THROUGH BUT YOU HAVE GOT TO BE WILLING TO TAKE ACTION WHEN WE CALL ON HIM FOR HELP.

(We’re actually going to dive more into taking action in faith in a different post but you get the basic idea here.)

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not  tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

  • I don’t know if you know this, but dead bodies typically don’t smell nice. 

I had a friend who was studying to be a forensic anthropologist and one day we were discussing her current studies and she told me the only thing she didn’t really like about the job she was pursuing was the smell. It was the worst thing she had ever encountered. What’s my point? My point is

  • Miracles and wonders aren't always a sunshine and roses experience, sometimes the process is very unpleasant but the outcome is always worth it.

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen,and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

In a nutshell, Lazarus is behind this stone, this stone was an obstacle keeping him from being reached, and Jesus asked the people there to remove it. It was hard work, and it probably took a little bit of time but they did what God asked them to do. After they were obedient, the miracle took place. Lazarus was brought back to life. He could barely walk out of the tomb himself because he was wrapped in linen and cloth that kept him bound. God called the people to help take off his “grave clothes” as he called them,  so he may walk which I imagine took a bit of doing to unwrap him given the amount of layers. That wasn’t a pleasant experience being that he had laid dead for some time and now smelled awful due to decomposition, but nevertheless these people helped him with his walk. Do you get where I’m going with this? What is keeping you from being a part of the miracle in someone else’s life? When God calls you to remove that obstacle no matter how hard it is or heavy it is or how much time it might take, are you going to do it? And then, when the miracle has taken place and this person you are trying to reach has been given new life through Christ Jesus, are you going to be there to help them walk? No matter how unpleasant the process might be, will you help them remove their grave clothes so they can be free? 

I’m going to share one more quick story with you and then end this post with 3 takeaways. There was a young man, he was at a gas station one day getting a couple of snacks. As he walked through the aisles to find all he wanted he heard God speak to him saying,” Do a cartwheel.” I know this sounds silly but for real this happened. The man ignored it and continued on his way. Three or four more times he heard God saying this. Do a cartwheel. Do a cartwheel. He asked God why he needed to do this, God said,” Just trust me.”. The young man approached the counter to pay and leave, but once more he heard the voice of God clearly say, ” Do a cartwheel.” The young man, confused as he could be and hesitant due to the embarrassment that would follow him performing an act like that for no apparent reason in a public place, decided to be obedient to what God had asked of him. He did a cartwheel, not just one, but several. Once he finished he paid for his items and began walking toward the door. As he was about to leave a young man about the same age as him came up to him and asked why he did a cartwheel. He replied,” This might sound strange but God asked me to.” The young man started weeping. Once he was able to speak he said,'' I prayed for the first time in years this morning. I told God I was going to kill myself tonight, unless I see a sign that he is really. Something he wouldn’t normally see like someone doing a cartwheel.” 

No matter what it is that God is asking you to do, do not let an obstacle like fear, or embarrassment stop you from being obedient, because you have no idea the impact that you could have on someone.

The 3 basic points I want you to get are:

  1. Trust God even in the midst of hard circumstances

  2. Be obedient to his calling no matter how unpleasant the experience may be

  3. Don’t hesitate to be a part of the miracle 

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