Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easter Soul Prep Day 11

As we have already discussed, John is very concerned with ensuring there is a fully documented reason to believe that Jesus IS the Son of God...that he is God. The "I Am" statements would have been startlingly recognizable. The conversation with Nicodemus in chapter 3. The testimony of the blind man in 9 and the question in 9:35. From the very beginning of John's account (see the prologue to John and Day 1), John has been trying to tell us that Jesus IS God - in the flesh - with all the powers of God.

Now, he will demonstrate that in the most profound way.

Perhaps this is why we only get this story of Lazarus in John. I'm sure the other Gospel writers would have found it compelling to tell, but for John, it is especially apropos his central theme.

There are some things worth noting that aren't on the surface:

1) John refers us to Mary in v.2 as the same Mary who 'poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair'. But that hasn't happened yet in John's account. He's referring to chapter 12. As a writer, he's trying to tie up the loose ends for us so that we can connect the dots.

2) I have always found a lesson in the 2 confrontations that Jesus receives - one from Mary, the other from Martha. Each of those ladies said the exact same words to Jesus, which means they had been talking about (badmouthing) him to each other. I'm sure this wasn't lost on Jesus.

3) This is where we get the famously noted shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept" (v.35). I've done an entire message on this that I adapted from the renowned Pastor/Preacher James Forbes entitled, "Why did Jesus Cry?". It's worth asking: What was so upsetting to Jesus? He knew Lazarus would come out of the grave. So, why was he so emotional here? I'll leave that with you.

4) Jesus deliberately lets Lazarus die, and names the reason: "it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." This adds fuel to the fire for those who believe that God causes bad things to happen. Like with Job, God stirs the pot (or participates in the stirring), and stands back to watch the fireworks before coming in at the last minute and saving the day. But that's not what happens here. Jesus isn't saying that the sickness was created so that God could look good. He was talking about it not ending in death. Lazarus was sick. God didn't cause it. But He sure was going to use it. The fact that death would not have the final word would bring Glory to God's Son. That's what he intended to do with this situation.

It reminds me of Paul's words from 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and specifically Paul's reference to Hosea 13:14. And, of course, there is an underlying building here to Jesus' own resurrection from the dead.

There is so much more that could be said. We could write an entire book on John 11, but I will leave that to you. Talk to you tomorrow.

4 comments:

jf said...

I think you sum up the chapter perfectly when you say "death would not have the final word". Wow! Those 7 words pretty much sum up the "promise" that Jesus gives to all of us who follow him.

I think Jesus wept because he felt like a failure in that moment. His time on earth was comming to a close yet even this family, that loved and professed to believe that he was the Son of God still didn't fully understand that God is all powerful even over death. He may have been thinking that if some of his closest followers didn't "get it", then chances are, he hadn't convinced anyone.

Ginger said...

I found the comment about Mary and Martha using the exact same words interesting. I would never have thought about them "badmouthing" Jesus. Maybe John used the exact same words for Mary and Martha when telling the story to emphasize the fact that even those close to Jesus didn't understand.

I think there are many reason that Jesus would have wept. John mentions earlier in the chapter that Lazarus is "the one that he loves." Obviously, Jesus had a special human connection to Lazarus and his family. I'm sure he wept over the suffering the family and friends were going through...as well as the fact that he was calling Lazarus back to earthly suffering.

On a much less meaningful note, verses 9 and 10 concerning 12 hours of daylight really confused me. And then I read the notes in my Bible about those verses and really had a hard time following the logic...it basically says that since the hours of daylight are fixed (12 hours), so is the length of Jesus' ministry on earth. I wouldn't have made that leap by myself...would this have made sense to the disciples?

Heather said...

I, too, and intrigued by the verse, "Jesus wept." I tried to piece it all together and visualize when (timing wise) exactly he wept. I came up with this-- Jesus knew Lazarus was sick; He announced that, "This sickness will not end in death..."(v.4); he stayed put for 2 days; he announced he was going to Lazarus and his disciples argued; he said Lazarus was asleep then had to restate it for the disciples to understand-- Lazarus is dead; he is confronted by both Martha and Mary- both anxious b/c they knew Jesus could have prevented this; Mary had others with her and they were all weeping; Jesus "was deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (v.33) and when he asked where Lazarus was they invited Him to "Come and see.." That's when he wept.

To me, he didn't go anywhere before he wept. He was there with Mary and others who were so deeply upset. He didn't go anywhere physically until Jesus, himself, was "more deeply moved" (v.38). Therefore- I think he was weeping not for his friend Lazarus or Mary or the others, but for something else entirely.

I think Jesus, while a man of God, was still a man/human in many ways. He knows that going to Lazarus and raising him from the dead will be the catalyst for human pain and suffering. He also knows that his time to show the world that he is the Son of God is drawing to a close. How frustrated Jesus seems because people just aren't understanding him or believing him. "Did I not tell you that if you believed..."(v.40) or "But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles..."(John 10:38) I think He knows time is running out and He is anxious...but He still follows his Father despite human fears. I don't think it has to do with Lazarus-- He says "for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe" (v.15)

And for me I keep coming back to v.9. In it Jesus says "A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light." I think he is talking about taking those steps towards his fate. God has given him the strength through the Light to walk through his last days without stumbling, without human weakness. His time is up--which, Ginger, may be something with the "fixed time" theory in your comment. I don't know-- something is there to me---I just haven't quite worked it out.
(and sorry so long --this one is really sitting heavy with me tonight- typing it out seems to help me work it out!)

Brian C. Hughes said...

To me, this is the best way to study the Bible - in the context of community where we work it out together. I am really moved by the thoughts here.

One quick note about commentaries. Ginger referred to hers at the bottom of the pages in her Bible. I used lots of commentaries to help me sort out difficult texts, but it's important to remember that they are someone else's thoughts. While well informed, they are not infallible. Just keep that in mind. I try to first figure out what God is saying to me, then move to the commentary when needed.

Great work, friends!