Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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18. Courage in the Crisis – Part 3

John 11:28-44

28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him. 30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” 38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” 40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

It’s here in John 11 that we see not only the sorrow of the two sisters but also the sorrow of the:

  1. Savior

“Jesus wept” is the most condensed verse in the bible but it’s one of the most comforting.  Jesus took time for tears, because he understands our hearts and our hurts. Do you believe that Christ cares about you, do you believe that he not only hears your hurts but wants to heal them? You see when it came to Christ’s care the crowd was divided. Some people saw Christ as compassionate while others saw him as calloused and uncaring. Instead of believing they chose to blame. What side are you on, are you a believer or a blamer? Are you amazed at God or angry with God? One of the challenging questions that confronts our hearts with here is what are we crying over? Are we crying over the loss of stuff or the loss of souls? Am I burdened about the things that break the heart of God? When was the last time you wept over the brokenness of humanity? Is your heart heavy because of the hurts you see around you? Where is the church at today, are we crying like Christ or have we become so comfortably complacent or worse calloused to the cares? It’s here in the midst of the heartache that we hear Christs:

  1. Call

Christ commands them to roll back the stone. To the crowd this would have come across as a very uncaring command. But Jesus wanted to remove anything that would have prevented the people from witnessing the wonder of the resurrection. So let me ask you what are the stones in your life that cause you to miss the miracles? What is it that’s blocking the blessings? What is it that needs to be rolled away in your life so you can witness God’s wonder? For Martha it was her fear, she was reluctant to roll the stone away because she didn’t believe. Faith follows God and obeys but fear will cause us to falter and focus on the obstacle. But belief is not just an attitude it’s an action, belief should cause us to boldly obey. You will either agree with God and obey or argue with God and object. While Lazarus was bound by death, the disciples were bound by doubt. So Jesus reminds them of the goal, God’s glory. Rolling the stone away comes down to whether you believe in rotting or in raising. Jesus was giving them a glimpse of what was to come on that Easter morning just around the corner. The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word. On Friday it seemed like wickedness was winning but on Sunday we see God triumph over the grave. But what about Saturday, that in-between time of uncertainty, sandwiched between disaster and deliverance? Are you going to believe or are you going to bail? As they remove the obstacle to belief Jesus gives the order for Lazarus to live. Why does the Savior shout the command, because He is in charge. This is the miraculous moment when Jesus defied death and they discovered that death can’t separate us from the Savior. It is here that we see despite all the obstacles Lazarus rise in obedience. But it wasn’t just Lazarus that was commanded to obey, Jesus invites the disciples to join Him in the joy of freeing Lazarus from his grave clothes. Jesus invites us to join Him in the privilege of partnering with God. How do you think they felt about getting to unwrap Lazarus? Do you think they were merry or mad? Partnering with Jesus is a privilege not a pain. Look Jesus has done all the work, He paid the price we just get to unwrap the present. If you have responded to salvation, and have gone from being dead in your sins to saved then you can’t keep wearing you grave clothes. Sadly many Christians today look more like Lazarus as he came out of the grave bound up in his grave clothes. They have life but not liberty; they have forgiveness but not freedom because they want to keep on wearing their old grave clothes. It’s time to strip of the old clothes of death and exchange them for Christ’s clothes of life.  To stop being defined by death and start being defined by deliverance. What about you have you responded to Christs call to come out of the grave and live for God, or are you still stuck in the dead life of serving self instead of the Savior? Sadly many Christians today instead of dressing to serve dress to show off. But Christians don’t dress to impress, they dress to express the Glory of God.