Anger with God, and His
representatives, often mingles with grief.
Lazarus had been dead
four days and his sisters were upset. "Why didn't
Jesus come when they sent word?" "Why did He delay?"
It would have been easy for Jesus to come to Lazarus
in his time of illness. He wasn't that far away. He
could have prevented Lazarus' death. But Jesus
"The Son," Jesus said,
"does nothing of Himself," but "whatsoever the
Father does, that does the Son likewise." His will
continually coincide with the Father's will, and
there comes to Him the power to do all the Father
does. His omnipotence is the Father's. "As the
Father has life, so has He given to the Son to have
life in Himself."
Jesus Christ is the
Lord over death and the giver of life.
Jesus received word of
Lazarus' sickness (John 11:1-3). But when Jesus
heard it, He said, "This sickness is not unto death,
but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be
glorified by it" (v. 4). That is the key to the
whole chapter. "This sickness is not unto death."
The ultimate goal of his sickness will be the glory
of God, and the glorification of the Son of God.
Jesus did not say that
Lazarus will not die but only that this sickness is
not—its final result and outcome is not death.
Lazarus was already dead by the time the messengers
arrived which created an opportunity for the display
of the glory of God. Jesus waited until the event
should be absolutely supreme in its evidence of
Therefore the delay was
not a question of love because John makes it very
clear that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and
Lazarus" (v. 5). But Jesus stayed where He was two
more days and Lazarus died (vv. 6-14).
Jesus stayed because He
loved that little family. Christ's delays in our
circumstances are delays of love. Nothing but the
purest and simplest of profound transparent love
sways Him in everything He does every day. God's
delays are God sized opportunities!
"The highest blessing
that any of us can obtain, is that our wills should
be bent until they coincide with God's, and that
takes time," observes Alexander Maclaren. Therefore,
He delays, yet His timing is always perfect. His
delay causes us to humble our hearts in submission
to His perfect will. He can give us nothing better
than the opportunity to bow our wills to His perfect
will. The truest token of His love is to have the
effect of bending us to submit to His will. "Lord,
what would you have me to do today."
Just as in the life of
Martha, Mary and Lazarus, the delay always
accomplishes God's purposes. His delayed help comes
at the right time. God's clock is different from
ours, but it is always right on time. What seems so
terribly long to us is only a second to Him.
Maclaren said, "God works
leisurely because God has eternity to work in."
God's answer always comes
at the right time and is punctual, though we most
often think it is delayed. The best help we can ever
receive is never delayed. It comes at God's perfect
timing and is always "so that you may believe" (v.
The love which often
delays, is delayed for our good and God's glory, is
swift as the lightening to answer every petition
which moves with the circles of our spiritual life.
LORD IF YOU HAD BEEN
It is only later that we
come to the realization that He is always there with
us. When the winds of life blow hard and cold He is
always there in the shadows.
Like Martha we tend to
fly in the face of our Lord the pain of our heart.
"Lord, if you had been here Lazarus would not have
died." The sisters lamented, "Oh, if only Jesus were
here!" When Jesus did not arrive and Lazarus died,
the sisters cried, "Oh, if only He had been here!
Our brother would not have died." They had watched
Jesus heal many sick, and yet their own brother had
died. "If only . . . if only . . . if only . . ."
What Jesus was teaching
Martha and you and me is that "I being here your
brother shall live though he had died." When Jesus
is with His people none of them shall die forever
because He is the resurrection and the life. The
Resurrection and the Life was standing there talking
to Martha. The Resurrection and the Life stands
before us and speaks to us if we will but listen and
trust Him. He comes to us at the open grave and says
to us, "I am the Resurrection and the Life!"
Like Martha, we see with
our tears and emotions what Jesus might have done if
He had been there before Lazarus died. What He wants
us to realize is what He is at the present moment.
He speaks; I hear Him saying, "I am the Resurrection
and the Life."
"Could He not have
prevented this man's dying?" asked Campbell Morgan.
"Of course He could! And yet He could not! If it is
a question of power, yes. His power was unlimited.
But it is not a question of power; it is one of
purpose." What was that purpose? "I was glad for
your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you
may believe." That was His purpose.
The darkest place in the
world is when we have one eye on Christ and one on
self. We need to get a new vision of Him with all of
the soul's eye. Martha in her tears said, "Even now
I know that whatever You will ask God, God will give
You" (v. 22). "Even now"—even with my brother dead—I
Jesus told her, "You
brother shall rise again."
Martha's response is, "I
know that he will rise again in the resurrection on
the last day" (v. 24).
Which would be more
difficult, raising Lazarus at the end of the age, or
after he has been dead four days? Obviously, neither
because He is the "I am."
In these words of Jesus
we find a stream of hope, assurance, joy, and
comfort for all believers.
"I AM THE RESURRECTION
AND THE LIFE"
In John 11:25-26 there is
recorded the great "I am" formula that Jesus used on
seven occasions in the Gospel of John. Emphatically,
Jesus says using the divine formula, "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. Do you believe
John doesn't say simply
that He will give resurrection and life. He says
that He is the resurrection and the life. The life
He brings is the life of the age to come. It is
"eternal life" of which He speaks elsewhere (1:4;
3:15). The man who believes receives His kind of
The "I AM" is
self-existence. He has life in Himself even as the
Father has life in Himself (5:26). He that was alive
and was dead, is alive forevermore. He is the Alpha
and the Omega, the beginning and the end. "I am the
resurrection and the life." Only God can say that
and it make any sense whatsoever. The resurrection
and the life radiate from the one center "I AM."
Jesus is the I AM, and as the I AM He is the
resurrection and life.
There is no resurrection
and no life exist except that they are embodied the
person and work of Jesus. When Jesus Christ is
absent the resurrection and life are absent. On the
other hand, when Christ is present, resurrection and
life are present. There simply is no hope of a
resurrected body and eternal life without Christ.
If I am to live unto God,
I must have Christ, and if I desire to continue in
my life unto God I must continue in Christ. I must
have Christ. Anything beyond the circle of Christ is
death. "You are dead, and your life is hid with
Christ in God," wrote the apostle Paul.
The presence of
Jesus Christ with us means life and resurrection.
"If Jesus comes to
Lazarus, Lazarus must live." If Jesus comes to you
and me, we, too, must come alive and live. Spurgeon
said, "He virtually says, 'I am to Lazarus the Power
that can make him live again; and I am the Power
that can keep him in life. Yea, I am the
resurrection and the life." He says to us, "I am
even now the resurrection and the life."
LAZARUS SHALL LIVE
Martha's response to
Jesus is a settled, firm conviction. "I have
believed and do so now." She said, "Yes, Lord; I
have believed that You are the Messiah, the Son of
God, even he who comes into the world" (v. 27).
Let's go with Jesus and
Mary and Martha down to the cemetery. Some along the
way are saying, "Could not this man, who opened the
eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also
from dying?" (v. 37). They believed in preventive
medicine. Do they believe in the living God?
They came to the tomb
which was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.
Jesus 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." Jesus said to her, "Did
I not say to you that if you believe, you will see
the glory of God?" (vv. 39-40).
So they removed the
stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said,
"Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I 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." When He had said these things, He
cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth."
The 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" (vv. 41-44).
Use your imagination for
a few moments and see in your mind what was
happening at the tomb.
Mary leaned on Martha's
shoulder hiding her eyes from the horrid scene. She
tried to damped the sounds of death all about her.
Martha held Mary tight and tried to prepare herself
for the odor of death. People moved aside so Jesus
could come near. Martha could see clearly now the
entrance to the tomb. This is where she and her
sister had directed the men to bury their brother.
They could barely see through the shadows a figure
sitting up. He rose from the stone bench and slowly
moved toward the entrance of the tomb. Martha's
heart pounded as she peeked through her fingers.
Mary whispered, "Look!" "Look!"
Everyone moved together closer to the opening not
wanting to miss a thing. They could now see the
white binding cloths, which wrapped the figure of a
man. They watched in utter disbelief as the man
begin trying to remove the burial wrappings. Instead
of the repulsive odor they had expected, the air was
filled with the fragrance of myrrh and aloes.
Fragrance of heaven filled the air. Jesus saw
Lazarus struggling with the wrappings and commanded,
"Unbind him! Let him go!" Martha left Mary and
grabbed the head napkin and asked, "Lazarus is it
really you?" She could see the color of his hair,
and his beautiful eyes clearly sparkled. The skin
had lost its ashen color of death. His winsome smile
teased, "Martha will you stand there all day, or
will you get me out of this mess?"
Lazarus had been dead for
four days and Jesus came and cried out, "Come out
and he came out!" Jesus is the resurrection
and the life.
Lazarus was far away from
the rock cave in which his body was buried. But,
wherever he was in the realm of death, he could hear
the voice of God, and must obey Him. The calm, clear
voice of Jesus reverberated through the regions of
the dead, spoke the simple command and he was freed
from death. It was no wonder to Jesus that He could
give back a life for He is the Resurrection and the
Life. One day all who are in the grave will hear His
voice and come forth.
Wherever Lazarus was he
heard and obeyed the familiar voice of Jesus. Death
has no power at all over those who know Him. Christ
is the Life and the Resurrection, and the thing that
we call death has no power to penetrate into the
depths of the relationship between Christ and those
who belong to Him.
Lazarus returned from
death to a continuation of his mortal life. By
contrast those who hear the shout on the last day
are called out to resurrection life. But before
resurrection life could be imparted to others, Jesus
Himself must be raised from the dead. He triumphed
over death! Because He lives we, too, shall live.
The omnipotence and the
mercy of God are revealed when Jesus revealed
Himself as the Son of God. The Father and the Son
are equally revealed in the exercise of these
attributes of Jesus when He raised Lazarus from the
dead. The shining forth of the glory of the Son of
God is the shining forth of the Father's own glory.
We, too, will be glorified when Jesus returns.
Moreover, all of this glory of the Father and the
Son is connected with our salvation.
"HE THAT BELIEVES IN
The natural world says,
"seeing is believing," but the Christian says,
"believing is seeing."
Jesus spoke the life
giving word and Lazarus came alive. It was the
acting of God's will. The Son is constantly and
perfectly one with the Father that He is conscious
of continual wielding of the whole divine power. He
speaks and it is done. "Lazarus, come forth" (v.
The central verity of
Christianity is that Christ from above is the giver
of life to all who put their trust in Him. "I am the
Resurrection and the Life"—"Do you believer this?"
"We have all sinned and come short of the glory of
God"—"Do you believe this?" "We must all appear
before the judgment seat of Christ"—Do you believe
this?" "God so loved the world that he gave His only
begotten son, that whosoever believes on Him should
not perish"—"Do you believe this?" "The Son of man
came . . . to give His life a ransom for many"—"Do
you believe this?" "Being justified by faith we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"—"Do
you believe this?" "Now is Christ risen from the
dead, and become the first fruits of them that
sleep"—"Do you believe this?" "I go to prepare a
place for you"—"Do you believe this?" "Where I am
there shall also My servant be"—"Do you believe
this?" "So shall we ever be with the Lord"—"Do you
believe this?" "I am the resurrection and the life;
he who believes in me shall live even if he
dies"—"Do you believe this?" "And everyone who lives
and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe
this?" (John 11:25-26).
That is Biblical
Christianity. It is not some theory or philosophy of
religion. It is truth that can be believed in for
eternity. It is the living, breathing center of
The believer in Jesus who
undergoes physical death will nevertheless live.
Jesus is not announcing a general resurrection on
the last day. He is looking forward to His own
rising from the dead and affirms that believers in
Him, being united to Him by faith, will share His
risen life even though they experience bodily death.
Our eternal life is a life which knows no death.
This mortal life must come to an end. However,
eternal life is life forever. Jesus said, "because I
live, you will live also" (Jn. 14:19). This is our
Faith is the only link
between the Lord Jesus and our soul. It unites us to
Christ. Faith is an empty handed receiver that is a
suitable conductor for grace. Faith is nothing apart
from that upon which it relies. Faith makes no noise
of its own. It receives Christ. It allows the Word
of God to speak and it obeys.
Faith hastens to ascribe
all the glory of salvation to Jesus Christ alone.
Works of self-righteousness seeks to take the credit
for what God alone can do for sinners. Faith is
"Whoever lives and
believes in Me shall never die," said Jesus. "And I
give eternal life to them, and they will never
perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than
all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the
Father's hand" (John 10:28-29).
There is no limit to the
power of the resurrection and life in Christ. There
are no hopeless cases with Christ who saves by grace
through faith alone. We are all dead in trespasses
and sins. No one can merit, earn or manipulate God
with self-righteousness. It is God alone who can
raise the dead spiritually. Yet, if you believe on
Christ you shall live. It is the matchless power of
Jesus Christ who is the resurrection and life that
raises the dead. "You get the life of God in your
soul, and you shall never die."
Alexander Maclaren said
it well: "It is just this—a man gets from Christ
what he trusts Christ to give him, and there is no
other way of proving the truth of His promises than
by accepting His promises, and then they fulfill
themselves. You cannot know that a medicine will
cure you till you swallow it. You must first 'taste'
before you 'see that God is good.' Faith verifies
itself by the experience it brings."
JESUS IS THE LIFE OF
HIS PEOPLE NOW
The Bible makes it very
clear that we are dead by nature, and you and I can
never produce life out of death. The last spark of
heavenly life is gone from human nature. We are dead
in trespasses and sins, and it is vain to seek for
life among the dead. Jesus links physical death with
the spiritual death which is at work within us even
now. We experience the inner death as loneliness,
bitterness, emptiness, despair, depression, boredom,
hate, pride, malice, resentment, violent temper,
restlessness, guilt, lust, fear, despair, etc. How
do we overcome? It is through the power of the
resurrection. We have the resurrection life now and
The life of every
Christian is Christ. He is the beginning of life,
being the Resurrection: when He comes to us we live.
Regeneration is the result of contact with the
living Christ: we are begotten again unto living
hope by His resurrection from the dead. The life of
the Christian in its commencement is in Christ
alone. No fragment of the Christian life is from the
believer himself, and the continuance of that life
is equally the same. Jesus is not only the
resurrection to begin with, but He is the life to go
on with day unto day.
Your spiritual life, in
every breath it draws is in Christ. It is a vital
union in Christ and you have no life of your own.
For the Christian it must ever be so. "I live, yet
not I, but Christ lives in me." He is ever saying to
the believer, "I am the resurrection and the life."
Do we have a tendency to
bind our Savior's words to some experience of the
past, or some distant future? Martha said, "Of
course there will be a resurrection and then my
brother will rise with all the dead."
Do we place the words of
Jesus on a shelf out of the way? Do we go to Him
saying, "Lord, I thank you for that word! I expect
You to do what You have said. I know You are always
better than I can possibly think You to be. I take
You at Your word. This promise is from You for me. I
choose to act upon it."
How sad that we who
profess to believe in Christ never take His words to
be true in our hour of need. "Lord, I know Lazarus
will rise again in the last day." But Christ wants
us to treat Him as the resurrection today! We tend
to think His promises are a long way off in the
distant future. How tragic that we look at God's
Word through the wrong end of the telescope. Don't
refuse the present blessing because of lack of
faith. He has life for you today.
Do we make the promises
of God unreal and impersonal? Jesus told Martha,
"Your brother shall rise again." She replied, "Yes,
he will rise in the resurrection at the last day."
He will rise when everyone does. He will come with
the rest." Oh, Martha don't miss the point. We can
quote the great promises in magnificent style, and
yet be in spiritual poverty because we do not trust
Him personally for our present hour of need. We have
to go to the bank on His promises and cash His
check. "If you are a child of God all things are
yours, and you may help yourself. If you are hungry
at His banquet it is for want of faith; if you are
thirsty by the brink of this river it is because you
do not stoop down and drink. His promises are true.
The principles upon which we live Christ every day
have not changed. Behold, God is your portion. The
Father is your shepherd, the Son of God is your
food, and the Spirit of God is your comforter.
Do you rejoice, and are
you glad with the firm hand of a personal faith in
the promises of our Savior?
Have you grasped the
truth of the personal power of Jesus Christ to give
and sustain your life? Jesus said, "I am the
resurrection and the life." Do you believe that?
What changes has that truth brought about in your
Just like He did for
Martha, Jesus with gentle spirit comes to us and
proceeds to teach us more about Himself. We need to
appropriate more of Jesus! Jesus Christ is the
sovereign cure for our problems. Jesus revealed
Himself to Martha as the resurrection and life. Here
is reason for us to have a clearer hope and
substantial faith. He says to you and me, "I and the
resurrection and life." Don't miss His claim, "I am,
I and I alone, I and no other am the resurrection
and the life."
This is our need today.
God's people need to know more of what Jesus is,
more of the fullness which it has pleased the Father
to place in Him. Why should I limit Him by my lack
of faith when God the Father has placed so much
fullness of Himself in Jesus?
Let's get into God's Word
and spy out all the riches of His grace which lie
hidden in Him for you and me. Jesus is the author
and giver of life. He maintains life of the believer
because it is His life. He was what Martha wanted
for her brother. Lord, You are my life.
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
When you say yes to
Jesus Christ then you will get a life which will
quicken you out of your spiritual deadness, and
fashion you day by day into more of the beauty of
"There is nothing worth
calling life, except that which comes to a quiet
heart submissive and enfranchised through faith in
Jesus said, "He that has
the Son has life; he that has not the Son has not
life." Again, "He that believes . . . though he were
dead, yet shall he live and whosoever lives and
believes on Me shall never die." The implication of
Jesus' words are very clear: He that believes not in
Christ, though he were living, yet shall he die, and
whosoever lives and believes not shall never live.
There are no other options. "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. Do you believe this?"
When a sinner dead
in trespasses and sins believes in Christ a miracle
When Jesus comes
the dead shall live.
They always come to life.
Every born again believer in Jesus Christ is a
miracle because there is a true coming into the
human life of the divine, a true supernatural work,
the infusion of life which is the Christ-life, into
a dead soul.
The whole human race is
plunged into death because of sin. "Therefore," as
Calvin says, "no man will possess life unless he is
first risen from the dead." The believer to all
eternity cannot die.
There is no greater
comfort than having received the life He gives. "He
that believes on Me, though he die, yet shall he
When you come into
a vital life-giving connection with Jesus Christ it
is always by faith in Him.
There is only one way any
person can have a intimate personal relationship
with God and it is by the exercise of his own
personal faith in Christ. You and you alone, must
answer to it. No one else can do it for you.
When Jesus Christ
returns all His redeemed shall come and live with
The body of every
believer will be transformed and made glorious like
the magnificent body of Jesus Christ. "Men of
Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This
Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,
will come in just the same way as you have watched
Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
"Then our brother shall
rise again, and all our dear ones who have fallen
asleep in Jesus the Lord will bring with Him," said
Spurgeon. Only Jesus Christ gives us hope over death
and the grave. When He shall come with trumpet sound
all the redeemed shall come with Him.
"Therefore we do not lose
heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our
inner man is being renewed day by day. For
momentary, light affliction is producing for us an
eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen, but
at the things which are not seen; for the things
which are seen are temporal, but the things which
are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
When Jesus Christ
comes all living believers will be transformed.
We shall all be changed,
and there shall be no more death for His people. "We
shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."
C. H. Spurgeon said,
"When the Lord comes there will be no more death; we
who are alive and remain . . . will undergo a sudden
transformation—for flesh and blood, as they are,
cannot inherit the kingdom of God—and by that
transformation our bodies shall be made meet to be
'partakers of the inheritance of the saints in
light.' There shall be no more death then."
Thank God. That is hope
for the grieving widow, the fatherless son, the
mother who has lost her daughter. "When Christ comes
the dead shall live; when Christ comes those that
live shall never die."
Even now the "dead in
Christ" are alive.
They are more alive now
than ever before in their existence. Alexander
"Those that believe on
Jesus Christ appear to die, but yet they live. They
are not in the grave, they are forever with the
Lord. They are not unconscious, they are with their
Lord in Paradise. Death cannot kill a believer, it
can only usher him into a freer form of life.
Because Jesus lives, His people live. God is not the
God of the dead, but of the living: those who have
departed have not perished."
Death to the wicked is
the king of terrors: death to the saints is the end
of terrors, the commencement of glory.
Depend upon Christ with
all your might just as you now are, and as the Lord
lives you shall live, and as Christ reigns you shall
reign over sin, and as Christ comes to glory you
shall partake of that glory forever and ever.
From the moment of death
on for the believer death is only a restful shadow,
not the real death, because Jesus has taken that
away. The moment the Christian dies he enters into
the presence of the Lord God and the Lord Jesus
Christ. What a blessed hope. Once you have this real
life in you, which is identified with Jesus Christ,
just as is "the resurrection" no death in a real
sense can ever touch him. There is no way the
believer in Jesus Christ can die forever. We "shall
in no way die"! Why? Because we have eternal life.
We have it because of our connection with Jesus
Christ. By this intimate, personal, connection with
Him, by the confident trust in Christ we have
eternal life and shall never die the second death.
Temporal death will come, but not the second death
that issues in eternal separation from God.
Another way of stating
the issue is by asking the question, where will you
spend eternity? If you died and stood before the
Lord God today, would you spend eternity with Him?
Or, would you spend it eternally separated from Him
in hell? Do you have a personal trust in Christ?
Physical death is not the important thing. Death
which has eternal significance is to be avoided at
all costs. The Christian passes though the
door we call physical death, but he will not die in
the fuller sense. Death for the Christian is the
gateway to fellowship with God for all eternity. "It
means the moment a man puts his trust in Jesus he
begins to experience that life of the age to come
which cannot be touched by death."
Title: John 11:25-26,
38-45 Lazarus, is that You?
Series: Life of