Sermon Manuscript . . .
Jesus Solves Life’s Greatest Problem
Open your Bibles to John 11. This morning we are going to take a detour from our study in 2 Peter, as Chris and Jean are in Hawaii celebrating Thanksgiving, getting some R & R, and spending time with family.
My name is Shawn Farrell and I serve as the college pastor here at FBC. Not sure if you are aware, there is a thriving group of collegians, 50 to 60 that come together each week. What to do with college age people is a quandary for many churches. They are in a transition state after high school, aren’t married yet, don’t fit any of the existing ministries, don’t give, and so often there is not much for them. What a major blessing it is to have a thriving college ministry of 18- to 24-year-olds who are being invested into and trained as the next generation of leaders in the church.
We have a core of serving staff who are leading, preaching, and serving the Lord. From college ministry, some go to serve in junior high or high school ministry, some to Training Center, and many serve here on Sunday mornings. Our purpose is helping college students know Jesus Christ and we are having a good time. Pray for us as we seek to impact collegians for Christ.
Recently, our college ministry worked through the gospel of John and chapter 11 is one of the highlights. The theme of the entire book is found in 20:31. “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name“–we could say to know and to believe. Let’s read our text together. This is rather lengthy, but will give us a good starting point. Buckle up.
“Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’ 4But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’ 5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7Then after this He said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ 8The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?’ 9Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.’ 11This He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.’ 12The disciples then said to Him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14So Jesus then said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, 15and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.’ 16Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.’ 17So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21Martha then said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.’ 23Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ 25Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 27She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.’ 28When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews were saying, ‘See how He loved him!’ 37But some of them said, ‘Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?’ 38So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, ‘Remove the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.’ 40Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ 41So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.’ 43When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’ 44The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ 45Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done. 47Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, ‘What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, 50nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the ‘whole nation not perish.” 51Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they planned together to kill Him” (John 11:1 to 53).
You are going to die. Take a moment to let that sink in. You are going to die. One morning the sun will rise and you won’t see it. Birds will greet the new day with their songs and you won’t hear them. Your friends and family will gather round to celebrate your life and then they will put your body in the ground. The world will pause briefly to remember you, but then it will continue on without you.
James 4:14, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Ecclesiastes 8:8, “No man has authority to restrain the wind, so also no man has authority over the day of his death.”
You are going to die. What a crushing, desperate, and heavy thought. We push it out of our minds, pretending that it will never happen to us. We go to great lengths to ensure that we will maximize the length of time that we live, but ultimately it is all in vain. Even the greatest medical advances can at best only postpone death.
What happens after death is a major focus in many world religions. Ancient Egyptians, for instance, believed in resurrection and immortality. In accordance with this, a scarab beetle was inserted in place of the corpse’s heart, because a scarab’s larva buries itself in the earth before emerging as a mature insect, symbolizing resurrection in Egyptian religion. When former president, John Quincy Adams suffered a stroke he said, “I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement; battered by the winds and broken in upon by the storms, and from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair.”
There are only two people that have never died–Enoch and Elijah. There are a handful of people that died twice. The Bible records a few resurrections from the dead, like the widow’s son in Elijah’s day, or the apostle Paul who was stoned to death and was resurrected in Acts 14, only to be beheaded by Nero. The reality is that since the fall, death is a part of life. It is the great enemy that all sons of Adam and daughters of Eve must face. It is the last battle, the valley of the shadow of death, the king of terrors, the final call. It is what ushers us into eternity, standing between this life and the next.
In many ways, we don’t take death seriously enough. But if death were no big deal, then there would be no reason to be a Christian. At its core, Christianity deals with these issues. In fact, we could say that Jesus is the solution to life’s greatest problem, because He has overcome death. He died and rose again to defeat the terrors of sin and death. To minimize them is to minimize the sacrifice of Christ that conquered them. You might be able to make it through this life without help, but overcoming death requires an act of God.
In the passage before us this morning, we will see both the death and resurrection of a man named Lazarus. We will be exposed to the reality that there is one, and only one, way that we can be delivered from the power of death, and that is through Christ. We will see that Lazarus is a picture of the state of every man and woman. For every man and every woman is dead in sin and is in need of Christ to bring them to life. My hope is that as the Savior is revealed, you would come to love and appreciate Him all the more for conquering death. If you are not yet a Christian, then our hope is that you would come to understand what Christ has done for you and that you would join Him in victory over death. Let’s dive in and see how Jesus solves life’s greatest problem.
1. Jesus is Sovereign over Your Suffering Verses 1 to 16
Look at verse 1, “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.” John introduces Lazarus to us and we get a quick glimpse into his life. He is the brother of Mary and Martha. They live in Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem and their home was a haven for Jesus when He was in town. Lazarus was relatively well-known and respected, because when he died it says in verse 19, many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them.
Verses 3 and 5 tell us that Jesus loved Lazarus and verse 11 tells us that he was Jesus’ friend, which is pretty cool. Look back at verse 3–so the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Take a moment to appreciate that they lived in a day when there were no antibiotics and no real medicines. The ability to fight bacteria, virus, fever, and infection was not understood. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was discovered in 1928. Before that time, fever and plague could sweep through a town, a city or even a nation, decimating people in its wake. Sickness at any level was serious, and here they send for Jesus because Lazarus is dying.
And the question that quickly comes to mind is, why didn’t Jesus just heal Him? He certainly had proven that He had the power to do it. He had healed paralytics, He had unstopped deaf ears and opened blind eyes. He had fed 5,000 people with nothing but a sack lunch, and He had walked on water as if it was dry land. The demons obeyed His command, as did the wind and the waves. Power radiated from Him. In the gospel of Mark, a woman who had hemorrhaged for 12 years was healed just by touching His cloak. In John 5, He healed a nobleman’s son from a great distance, just by saying, “Go your way, your son lives.”
Certainly, He could have healed Lazarus with a word as well. Look at verse 6, “So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” He chooses not to heal Lazarus. He allows Lazarus to be sick–to experience pain, to suffer, languish and even die. At first glance, it seems out of place that even though Jesus loves this man, yet He allows Him to suffer.
Maybe this hits home for you. You are a Christian, one who has committed their life to Christ, and you are a child of God. You love God and He loves you. And yet like Lazarus, you too are suffering. You are hurting and experiencing pain and loss. You are looking for God through your tears, but He seems to have abandoned you. And you begin to ask, “Where is God in my trial? Does He hear my prayers? If He loves me, then why do I hurt so bad?” These are all the same questions that confronted this family as Lazarus goes from bad to worse and Jesus does nothing. He has the power to save but chooses not to–why not?
Jesus answers in verse 4. “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” This sickness is for the glory of God. It is according to His purposes. “As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:1 to 3). “The Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?‘” (Exodus 4:11).
God is sovereign. He controls all things. He is working all things together for His glory. He makes no mistakes. All of your suffering, pain, sickness, and even death is part of God’s plan for you and it is all for His glory. And as His children, we can rest in the fact that it is all for our good. We struggle with this and we question God when we suffer or when someone close to us dies or when we suffer, but we must put in perspective that we are not God–He is. We do not control our lives–He does. We do not ultimately have authority–it belongs to Him.
“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39). “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Friend, are you struggling? Turn your heart to God and trust in His wise and kind heart. Reorient yourself in the light of His glory and grace. He has your life in His hand. His plan is perfect. The psalmist tells us to cease striving and know that He is God.
When Jonathan Edwards, the great pastor, theologian, and father of eleven died unexpectedly from a smallpox vaccination, his wife wrote these words, “What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it…But my God lives; and he has my heart.” In your unsure future, in your physical ailment, in your spiritual depression, in your lonely grief, learn to trust the God who loves you with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.
I heard a pastor tell a story of a friend of his whose fiancé died days before their wedding in a car crash. He had flown into her hometown for the wedding, but ended up at her funeral instead. Sitting on the airplane a few days later, he looked out the window at the rain that fell on the runway and commented that the weather mirrored the state of his heart–gloomy, stormy, melancholy and dark.
Then the plane took off and climbing through the clouds emerged into the brilliance of the morning sun. The skies were blue, the air was clear, and the sun was shining in its strength–and in that moment it hit him, that we see only the human perspective of suffering. We see and experience the storm, but God is above the clouds and He exists in perfect clarity, in the brilliance of His glory, working all things out according to His plan.
Make no mistake–God loves you, but that doesn’t mean He will remove all obstacles from your life and make everything perfect. He will use trials to strengthen you, to perfect you, to challenge you, and to make you depend more on Him, and all for His glory. Jesus is sovereign over your suffering.
2. Jesus is Sufficient for Your Salvation Verses 17 to 27
We find from verse 14 that Lazarus has died. The funeral has already taken place and the family and close friends are gathered around mourning. And here, four days later, Jesus enters Bethany and calls for Mary and Martha. When Martha arrives, she says in verse 21, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
This is not meant as a rebuke, but rather is an expression of her faith, mixed with grief. She saw Him heal, she knew of His power. Healing her brother would have been no problem–but alas, it was too late. This is real. Lazarus really died. This wasn’t a Bible story to Martha. She was barely holding it together and she is in the presence of the only One who could have saved Him.
“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (verse 22). She knew He had some special relationship with God and that through His prayers, some good might come of this. But she didn’t even imagine that He could raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus says in verse 23, “Your brother will rise again,” meaning, I am going to raise him from the dead immediately. But she missed the point and assumed that Jesus was speaking in an eschatological sense, verse 24, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
But Jesus wasn’t talking about the last day. He wasn’t talking about a future hour. He was talking about that day and He was referring to that hour. And so, He reveals Himself to her in greater fullness. Verse 25, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” We see four aspects of salvation in verses 25 to 26.
The Source of Salvation
“I am the resurrection and the life,” verse 25.
The life of every Christian is Christ. He awakens the cold, dead heart that is marred by sin. He resurrects it from its dead state, bringing it to life. In much the same way that a doctor grabs the paddles and says, “Clear,” before bringing a dead man back to life, so Christ, by His own power, brings our spiritual hearts to life. When He comes to us, we live.
John 1:4 says that, “in Him was life.” John 14:6 says that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life.” Colossians 3:4 says that “Christ is our life.” And in John 14:19 Jesus says, “Because I live, you shall live also.” He is the fountain from which all life flows. And we do not have even an ounce of life apart from the sovereign work of Christ in us.
Listen to what JC Ryle says of this verse. Referring to Christ, “I am the great conqueror of death…I am the great Spring and Source of all life, and whatever life one has, eternal, spiritual, physical, is all owing to Me. All that are raised from the grave will be raised by Me. Separate from Me there is no life at all. Death came by Adam: life comes from Me.”
The Promise of Salvation
“He shall live even if he dies,” verse 25.
The promise here is that even when you die, you will live. When a Christian dies, they are not in the grave–they are forever with the Lord. They are not in purgatory or a place of unconscious soul sleep–they are home in Paradise. Spurgeon said, “Death cannot kill a believer–it can only usher him into a freer form of life!”
As surely as the grave could not hold Christ, so all those who come to Christ in faith will live. And Jesus says in 26, “Everyone who lives shall never die.” This obviously isn’t referring to physical death, as that wouldn’t make sense. The point is that eternal life cannot be extinguished by physical death. And so as Christians we can say with confidence, 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting?”
The Means of Salvation
According to verse 25, comes to those who believe in Me–faith is the means of salvation. Over and over, the theme of belief is brought up in the gospel of John–98 times in this book, eight times in this chapter alone. Notice that He does not say, “He that loves Me,” even though it is the great command–that is not the portal through which salvation is given. Notice that He does not say, “He that serves Me”–though all who are in Christ will desire to serve Him. He does not even say, “He that imitates Me.” He says, “He who believes in Me.”
He who has come to me in faith with a heart of humility, in full dependence, without any of your own abilities or efforts–it is the simple realization that there is nothing you can do to please God, but instead you must cry out to Him for mercy. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
The Extent of Salvation
This offer of salvation is extended to all who will respond. Do you see verse 25, “he who believes,” and “everyone who believes” in verse 26? The offer is made to all sons and daughters of Adam ruined by the fall. All who are under the power of sin. All who have rebelled against God and face the penalty of sin, which is death.
Romans 10:13 says, “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved“–though the weight of your sin and the guilt of your past paralyze you, though you feel unworthy, though you think that God would never accept you because you have spurned Him for so long. Listen to the words of the gracious Savior. He invites you to come. He offers forgiveness, and cleansing, and hope as a free gift to all who would believe. There is no other condition–no work that must first be done. Simply come to Him and believe.
He comes to you this morning, and like Lazarus, wants to wake up your dead and lifeless heart. He wants to restore you and bring you into a relationship with Him. He is a loving and merciful Savior who has already suffered the pains of death, who has already carried the weight of sin. He stands today ready to receive you, to wash you and to make you His. Oh, won’t you come and find rest for your soul? Stop running, stop fighting, stop pretending and come to the giver of life that you might find peace.
At the end of verse 26, Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” And her response is awesome. “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” We may beat her up for serving, when she should have been at the feet of Christ–but she hits this one out of the park. This is her confession. This is her heart. Jesus is sufficient for her salvation and He is sufficient for yours.
3. Jesus Sympathizes with Your Sorrows Verses 28 to 37
In verse 32, Jesus meets with Mary. She is barely able to even hold it together–and seeing Christ reopens the wound and a flood of emotion pours out, as she begins to cry once again. Her sorrow has an effect on Jesus. We see here two different words used to describe His emotions. These have very different meanings and I’d like to lay out what I believe this is teaching us. The first is in verse 33 and we will call it . . .
Look at verse 33–it says, “He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled.” Jesus was deeply moved. He is feeling this pain. But interestingly enough, the word for deeply moved was used to describe the snorting of a horse and had the idea of indignation. It includes the connotation of anger, outrage, or deep agitation. Verse 33 also says that Jesus was troubled. The literal meaning of troubled is to cause acute emotional distress. It is to stir up or even to shake under the force of emotion. Here Jesus is so worked up that His body was trembling.
He now stands face to face with the last enemy, death. He was experiencing the fallenness of the world that He created. He saw what sin had done in destroying life. He sees pain, suffering, loneliness, sorrow, even death–and He is upset and angry at its cause. This is what Jesus is experiencing. And He is responding with strong emotion to the devastating effects of sin. The second emotion is in verse 35 and we will call it . . .
In verses 34 and 35, “He asks, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ 35Jesus wept.” This word for wept is different from the word used of Mary and the other mourners in verse 33–that was an outward loud wailing and very public and loud. This word, in contrast, has the connotation of silently bursting into tears. There is no greater demonstration of the humanity of Christ. He was one who could hunger, thirst, sleep, eat, drink, speak, walk, be wearied, feel anger, rejoice, and here He weeps. He who is one with the Father, who is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the creator of all things, the sustainer of the universe–and yet He Himself enters into human sorrow and sheds human tears. This is an amazing truth.
Charles Spurgeon said, “A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears.” Our Savior is tender toward us–He can be touched with our weaknesses and in our greatest darkness we can pour our hearts out before Him. He not only hears our prayers, but can sympathize with us as well. Hebrews 4:14 to 16, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”
“Let us carefully remark that our Lord never changes. He did not leave behind Him His human nature when He ascended up into heaven. At this moment, at God’s right hand, He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and can understand tears as well as ever. Our great High Priest is the very Friend that our souls need, able to save as God, able to feel as man.” (Ryle)
4. Jesus Substantiates His Claim Verses 38 to 44
He is about to validate the claim that He just made. He will show Himself to be the resurrection by raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus’ command in verse 39 is short and simple, “Remove the stone”–but it sends panic into the heart of Martha. She has no idea what Jesus is doing, and look at her response–“Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” The KJV translates it, “Lord, he stinketh.” The Jews put aromatic spices and herbs on the bodies of the dead in an effort to mask the smell–sort of like the Christmas tree in your car. But after four days, the body has already started decomposing. But Jesus prevails and the stone is removed.
When I was in college, I had the best job I could have ever had–waiting tables in a fancy restaurant right on the water in Malibu, serving famous people. A friend taught me what is known as the three-finger carry, balancing a tray with seven plates, and then holding a bottle. It is very efficient. But every once in awhile, a tray of dishes gets dropped, and what happens? The response is deafening–you can literally hear a pin drop and all eyes are instantly fixed on you.
In the same way, all of these people are gathered around and are now standing in stunned silence, waiting to see what Jesus is going to do. They know His reputation, and every eye is fixed intently on Jesus–and what happens next is amazing. He yells out, “Lazarus, come forth” in verse 43. The Greek text literally reads, “Lazarus! Here! Outside!”
Revelation 1:18 says that He has the keys to death and Hades, and here with little more than a word, the grave gave up its dead. It has been said that the Lord’s power is so great, that had He not addressed Lazarus by name, all the dead in all the graves would have come forth. And so, out of the black darkness, Lazarus stepped forward. Look at verse 44, “He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings; and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.” And there he was, alive!
Jesus says, “Unbind him, and let him go.” And with that, John draws a curtain on the scene. He does not describe Lazarus’s tearful reunion with Martha and Mary, or the stunned reactions of the people in the crowd. Nor does he report on Lazarus’s experience after his resurrection. All of that would have detracted from his reasons for recounting this miracle–that the Lord Jesus Christ might be glorified and that the readers of John’s gospel might believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be.
And so there is undeniable proof that He has power over sin and over death. He is who He claimed to be. The great I Am, clothed in human flesh. The raising of Lazarus was a preview of His own death and resurrection and ultimately serves as a preview of the resurrection of all believers in the future.
5. Jesus Stands as a Fork in the Road
There are two responses to this miracle in the text and I think they apply to us as well–two ways to respond to Jesus.
Verse 45, “Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.” What a great response it is to recognize that like Lazarus you are dead, lifeless and in need of divine help. It is to put your faith fully in Christ and rely on Him for salvation. It is to say like Martha, “Lord, I believe!” This is the soft heart of faith that holds nothing back from the Lord, but rather trusts Him as the anchor amidst the storms of life and of death. It is the one who has looked at their own mortality, their bondage under sin, the judgment of God that awaits and cries for help. Recognizing that on their own, they cannot conquer death–and so they trust that on that day, Jesus will usher them safely across the cold river of death and deliver them safely to the other side. He alone faced death, and conquered it, and He alone can resurrect us into newness of life. But there is another response . . .
Verse 46, “But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.” This is hard to understand. Having seen a man raised from the dead, they went back to the Pharisees and reported about the miracle. They saw the power of God clearly demonstrated and they hardened their hearts and rejected–why? Look at verses 47 and 48. “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
They didn’t want to give up their rights or their freedoms. They didn’t want to submit themselves to the King. Instead, they would reject. They saw God, heard His claim to deity, witnessed a man return from the dead, and then walk away from it unaffected. No, they didn’t walk away unaffected. They walked away hardened, defiant. They chose to reject. Look at verse 53. “So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.” Wow–they would have nothing to do with Him. They wanted Him dead. How sad.
Friend, what about you? His offer stands. He is the resurrection and the life. To all who will come to Him in faith, He grants eternal life. You can choose to believe or you can choose to reject. Jesus stands as a fork in the road. What will you do? You are going to die. Take a moment to let that sink in. One morning the sun will rise and you won’t see it. Birds will greet the new day with their songs and you won’t hear them. Your friends and family will gather round to celebrate your life and then they will put your body in the ground. The world will pause briefly to remember you, but then it will continue on without you. I hope that in that day, the great enemy will be silenced because Christ is in you, and you are raised to life in Him. Let’s pray.