John 11:1-44

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me – Elevation Worship, Resurrecting

When I first heard the above song, I did not like it. I thought the lyrics were a bit trite for discussing resurrection. I still look at those lyrics on paper and can’t help but think, that’s it? Because when we talk about resurrection what comes to mind is John 11 and the story surrounding Lazarus dying and being brought back. When we talk about The Resurrection, we are talking about the entire premise the Christian faith is based on.

But… I like the song. I like it because when dead things come alive, emotion and energy overpower words. Sure poetry is nice, but nothing is more impressive than a resurrected life. So it should come as no surprise that in John 11, when Jesus resurrects Lazarus, the religious establishments wants to kill him.

A cursory reading of John 11 might make one think, this passage is about a guy that dies who Jesus then raises from the dead. While the resurrection of Lazarus looks like a story about life, it is more a story about love. I believe we can know it’s about love from John 11:3 when a word is sent to Jesus saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick,” and in John 11:5 which reads, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

But Jesus has an odd way of showing love. An odd but true way.

He refuses to be rushed.

Jesus heard Lazarus was sick so instead of going to him, he waits a couple of days. Then he tells the disciples they will go to him, but the disciples are apprehensive because the Jewish leaders were just trying to kill Jesus in those parts.

Jesus wants to veil the disciples in regard to the death of Lazarus, but they press him.So Jesus tells them Lazarus has died, and Thomas, in verse 16, assumes they are all going to march to their death as well. There is so much drama, but Jesus is trying to protect a whole bunch of people he cares about from the harsh truth of life so they would trust in the work of His kingdom. The disciples are afraid to die here, or at the least they are afraid that Jesus will die.

When Jesus arrives in Bethany, both Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, are pretty shook up. They are upset about their brother’s death and a little disappointed in Jesus.

*Pause button* How often do we get disappointed with Jesus? Martha says something to Jesus in 16:21-22 that maybe you have said to God,  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

If you were actually here, Jesus, all this $#%@ would not have happened. If you were here, I wouldn’t have gone through all this. If you were here, I wouldn’t have endured the divorce; I wouldn’t have endured missing my mother from sickness; I wouldn’t have been fired from my first ministry job; I wouldn’t have endured a broken heart; I wouldn’t be pushing 30 and feel like I’m pushing dirt off me.

Or… maybe… I would go through all those things, but in fact, you’ve always been here.

*Un-pause* The lesson Jesus teaches his disciples, the lesson he teaches Martha, the lesson he teaches Mary, and even the lesson he teaches Lazarus is when you were face to face with death, Jesus never left. When you and I face the end of something, we encounter the One who always was in the beginning and who has no end.

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We find Jesus saying, “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

 

In spite Jesus’ assurance, hope, and optimism toward resurrection life, he cries. In fact, he weeps. Jesus cries with us. He wept with you and he never left you. As much as I’d like to be able to level an accusation at Jesus as an excuse in times of distress, he doesn’t leave.

The message of the Resurrection is that death can’t keep God away, and if death can’t keep God away, so long as you live, in any situation, God is an ever-present help. This is the relentless pursuit of God toward the beloved creation. The demonstration of God’s love is faithfulness toward us.

Jesus took the time to meet each of the ones he loved in their emotional pain as he listened to their cry rather than fixing the situation immediately. To love someone in the depth of their pain is a demonstration of divine mercy. To be able to say “I will endure all suffering with you, even for you,” is the expression of love that no other god claims to offer.

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Yet Jesus doesn’t stop at meeting us in our pain. He moves away the stone to have the glory of God revealed to us. He calls us out of death and pain into life and joy. He says, “Take off the grave-clothes and let them go.”

 

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