The story of Lazarus is about faith in a God who has no limitations, a God so powerful he can cause a body to live again — a human body, or a church body.
Grab your Bible and let’s go through John 11:1-44 together.
Are you concerned about your church? When you look back, do you see a season of life and vibrancy? Could we see that again? Do you wonder, “Can this body live again?” The answer is “Yes! Yes, it can!”
John 11:1 – Yes! Even when it appears sick unto death.
The request to Jesus was urgent, desperate. Jesus knew the expectation was that this illness was terminal. But Jesus consoled and encouraged them: “This illness will not lead to death.” Receive the consolation of Christ. There’s more life to come!
John 11:3,5 – Yes! Because Jesus loves it.
“Lord, he whom you love is ill.” “Now, Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Jesus loves His church. He has loved it to the uttermost. Jesus loves this church. By the power of love, He will give it new life.
John 11:4,40 – Yes! Because God can get glory in it.
The glory of God made manifest in the world is the mission goal of the church. The revival of a vibrant body here would display God’s power and glory in this city. “It is for the glory of God, that the son of God may be glorified through it.”
John 11:6,8,11 – Yes! Even when it doesn’t make sense.
“[Jesus] stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” “The Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and you are going there again?” “Lord, if he has simply fallen asleep, he will recover.” None of this made sense to the disciples. Trust him! Even when we don’t fully understand, Jesus still knows what’s he’s doing.
John 11:14-16 – Yes! Even when some don’t believe.
Jesus said, “Let us go, that you may believe.” Thomas said, “Let us go, that we all may die.” Thomas believed what he saw in the circumstances, not in the One sovereign over the circumstances. When Jesus says, “Let’s go,” go … believing.
John 11:21-27 – Yes! Even when theology and faith don’t match.
Martha’s theology was sound, but her faith still had limitations. She confessed that Jesus is the Christ, that God hears and answers his prayers, and that there is a coming resurrection. Nevertheless, her “if only” revealed a hole in her faith. Mary echoed the same limitation: “if only you had gotten here sooner.” Is our church’s condition partly a consequence of mismatched theology and faith? Let’s go believing, listening and learning from the Master afresh. He will expand our theology and deepen our faith. And make this body live again.
John 11:33-36,38 – Yes! Because God’s heart can be broken.
“Jesus was deeply moved … Jesus wept.” Jesus’ status as God, as “the resurrection and the life,” does not diminish His humanity. Lazarus’ suffering was real suffering, Mary and Martha’s grief was real grief. Jesus has a heart of compassion for those in pain. He had it for them; He has it for us. He knows this church’s pain and would love nothing better than to restore its joy!
John 11:39-44 – Yes! Because nothing is too hard for God!
Jesus had performed many miracles prior to this. But who can raise up a man who is literally rotting in the grave? And yet, Jesus effected this profound miracle with the simplest of phrases: “Come out!” And the dead man came out!
Pastor, is there anything too hard for Creator God, the giver of life, the defeater of death? No, no and no!
And can this church know life again? Can it have its wrappings removed to run free again? Can this body live again? Yes! Yes! Yes! Unbind it and let it go!
Published May 11, 2021