JOHN:The Book Of Heartfelt Belief
Power to Raise The Dead
Jerry A. Collins
C.S. Lewis observed that the statistics on death are impressive--so far it is one for one! It is a certainty. Death comes calling on everyone like a concrete floor waiting for the falling lightbulb. It is appropriate that we talk about death because we know we are going to die. So we can make decisions in this life to prepare for the next one. Before you die you determine at least two things:
(1) Whether you will spend eternity in heaven or hell John 3:16. These are the only two alternatives there are. The Bible does not teach annihilation or non-existence. The Bible also does not teach reincarnation. There is also no purgatory where you can still have a chance after death! (2) What eternity will be like for you as a believer 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. While we are alive, Jesus tells is that we can lay up treasure in heaven. So we can determine to make our lives valuable in heaven by our faithfulness to Christ and obedience to His commandments.
From the story of the raising of Lazarus we will learn that since Jesus has the power over death, those believing in Him are guaranteed life everlasting.
1. DEATH IS FOR THE GLORY OF GOD 1-6
Piecing together the details here, it seems that even at the time word reached Jesus Lazarus had already passed away. The urgent message sent to Him was evidence of the confidence and faith in Him as both Savior and friend. He is simply informed of the situation. No doubt, Jesus could have healed Lazarus at a distance. He did not have to be there. He did not even have to have this message to know what was going on. At the very least, some might have expected him to immediately go to Bethany about 20 miles away. But he instead purposed to stay another two days where he was! Since Bethany was only 2 miles from Jerusalem where Jesus had his life threatened, it may have made sense to some not to make the trip. However, concern for personal safety was not the issue at all with Jesus. The fact is, the Lordís delay was due to the divine purpose for Lazarusí death 11:4! Godís purpose was to glorify himself thru the glorifying of His Son. To give God glory means to put God on display in some way. God is going to put Himself on display by putting the power of His Son on display! That is going to happen by raising Lazarus from the dead after four days in the tomb! Jesus message to Martha and Mary is that Lazarus is only temporarily dead but ultimately He was going to live vs 23. Thats why Jesus says he is asleep, for he would soon be awakened.
Whenever a Christian comes face to face with death, whether the reality of his own, or any other believer or unbeliever--we find comfort in fact that every death is for the glory of God! How?
(1) Death reveals God to be holy and just. He cannot wink at sin but must punish it. He deals decisively with it. No compromise or grading on a curve here. In the garden he commanded that eating of the forbidden fruit would bring sure death Gen 2:17. The result of disobeying God brought spiritual death (separation from God needing redemption by blood of Christ) and physical death (to dust you shall return) Gen 3:19. Rom 3:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. So death displays how offensive sin is in the sight of God. The fact that every man will die reveals that God is absolutely consistent and unwavering in His judgment on sin (anything contrary to the character of God).
(2) Death is last enemy over which Jesus Christ will have victory 1 Cor 15:20-28. Well, I say amen to this one! Although an insect can still frighten us when the stinger is gone, it can do no damage to us. So, the Bible declares, O death where is your sting? 1 Cor 15:55.
(3) Death is necessary to enter into the presence of our Heavenly Father 1 Cor 15:50-58. A believer puts God on display by their victorious testimony in the face of death. Our future existence is not in the hands of doctors, disease, drunk drivers or accidents. Our death is in the hands of God Almighty Who can use any means he wishes to bring us into heaven to be with Him forever. We die right on time at the exact moment planned by God Ecc 3:1-2. The immediate cause of death might be any number of things but the ultimate cause is God. And death for a believer means immediate access into the presence of His heavenly Father (2 Cor 5:8). D. L. Moody said before he died ĎSoon you will read in the papers that Moody is dead...Donít believe it...for in that moment I will be more alive than I have ever beení.
By the way, throughout the account of Lazarus, the intimate friendship and love of Jesus for this family is clear. Which tells us that Gods purpose in death is never separated from His love for His own children. Godís purposes, even including death, never sacrifice the best interests of His own family members! His love is not surrendered when one of His own dies! Gods love for us is probably never more displayed than when His children breathe their last here and their first there!
2. DEATH ONLY COMES WHEN OUR WORK HERE IS DONE 7-16
The real concern of the disciples was not Lazarus death but over their own death if they went with Jesus to Judea. It seemed like suicide but Jesus says there is no danger of harm or injury outside of Gods will. Committed to the will of God, we are indestructible until it has been accomplished. We are in real danger though, when we depart from His will for our lives to pursue our own selfish pleasures. So Jesus explains to them that Lazarus death was in part for the strengthening of their own faith. Ironic, that history records the martyrdom of 11 of 12 apostles. While many have suffered and died doing Gods will, such was the purpose and plan of God for them. Our job is to live devoted lives for Christ. Gods job is to call us home when thats finished! Spurgeon taught Ď you do not want dying grace until dying moments. Ask for living grace and glorify Christ...you shall have dying grace when the time comes.í
3. WE CAN HAVE COMFORT INSTEAD OF FEAR IN PRESENCE OF DEATH 17-44
It was the absence of Jesus when Lazarus died which plagued Mary and Martha. Both commented Lord if only you had been here (21, 23). The mere presence of Christ is sufficient to calm us at death. God is deeply touched with our sufferings (35). His promise vss 25-26 bring comfort. His person ĎI Amí not just good man or teacher.