What did I learn about Jesus?
- Jesus shows his humanity when he weeps over Lazarus’ death with Mary and Martha.
- Being present with people in their grieving is a powerful act of love.
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- Disciple-makers who empathize with grieving disciples perform a powerful ministry.
- Disciple-makers can help disciples see past the pain of the present to what God is doing/planning for the future.
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
Good morning disciple-makers!
As a review, John wrote his gospel much later than the other three (the synoptics). Perhaps 30-40 years later. It is clear that John wanted to tell the story of Jesus from a more theological perspective. But I have often wondered if he also didn’t want to write his gospel because there were so many great stories that the other three did not tell. And John 11 is the whopper, in my opinion. Aside from Jesus’ own resurrection, I think the story of Lazarus is the most exciting, spectacular display of Jesus’ power. Who knows, maybe it pushed John over the top in deciding to write his own gospel. “I can’t believe those guys didn’t tell the story of Lazarus! I’ve GOT to tell the story of Lazarus.”
There are four scenes to the Lazarus story.
Scene I- The delay
Lazarus, Mary and Martha were Jesus’ dear friends. He stayed at their home in Bethany when he was in Jerusalem, a short walk away. When Lazarus became sick, it was natural that word would be sent to his dear friend, Jesus. His response seems contradictory. On the one hand, he is ready to return to his friend’s side, despite the danger. Remember, at the end of chapter 8, they were ready to stone Jesus. Please notice the intimacy of Jesus’ relationship with these people. Real disciple-making is not a project; it is born out of deep relationship. Are we willing to put ourselves at risk or inconvenience to care for those in our life? YET, Jesus delays his return on purpose. Why? To LET Lazarus die! God would be glorified in what appeared to be a hopeless situation. One of the hardest things to do with disciples is to help them see past the pain of an immediate situation and to trust God’s goodness in the larger picture.
Also, did you notice how Thomas replied? Later, he would be known as the doubter. Does this story suggest why he might have been so hurt by Jesus’ death?
Scene II-Jesus with the sisters
What do we learn about how Jesus dealt differently with different types of people? He knew Martha and he knew Mary and he approached them differently. Disciple-making is not a one-size-fits-all approach. And the depth of Jesus’ empathy really shines in v. 35: “Jesus wept.” Why would he weep? He knew what he was about to do! He knew that Lazarus would arise. And yet, he was so pained by his friend’s grief, he could not help but enter into their pain. Do you have relationships that are that honest and raw?
Scene III-The raising of Lazarus
What a spectacular moment! Jesus had delayed four days, long enough that Jews believed the spirit, which hovered around the body for a while, had finally left. Lazarus was REALLY, really dead…and Martha (the practical one) was afraid that the odor would be awful. Notice that Jesus prays for the benefit of the listeners…an interesting take on prayer! And have you ever thought about this? Why did Jesus call Lazarus by name? Because, if he had just said, “Come forth!” every dead body in earshot would have risen in obedience to its creator! It was traffic control!
Scene IV-the consequences.
It is the saddest thing of all, that the religious leaders appeared to believe that Jesus really had raised someone from the dead…and instead of falling on their faces in worship, they decided this was the last straw and that he must die. How sad that someone’s heart can become that hard!
What do you see?