John 11, Lazarus

I wrote awhile back that I wanted to get input from people before I preach, so that others can help shape what is shared on Sunday mornings. I haven’t forgotten…this coming Sunday will be the first time I’m sharing the message since I wrote the previous piece. So I’d like to invite you to prayerfully consider John 11, where Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead. You can read John 11 here.

Here are some of the thoughts I’m being drawn to as I reflect:

  • In the book of John, this is the pinnacle of Jesus’ power. He’s done amazing things throughout the book, doing things that God does, claiming that he is one with the Father. Now, he leaves no doubt: a man dead and buried for four days is brought back to life and walks out of the tomb. God, and God alone, has the power of life and death. This is a clear demonstration of God’s power, ultimate power…and yet it raises some troubling questions if we think about it. Why the selective use of power? Why is it only his friend who is raised from the dead, in a land where many good people have died? How does Jesus decide?
  • This chapter is the pinnacle of the book in another way. “The Jews” have been angry with Jesus already, but now Caiaphas, the chief priest, makes it clear that it is only Jesus’ death that will satisfy. Jesus’ followers realize things are coming to a head, and Thomas gives the response that all of us as followers of Jesus ought to give: “Let’s go with him, and die with Jesus.” The coming of God’s power into the world, while amazing and wondrous, is now being completely rejected and opposed by people. What does it say to people in power that we often oppose the very thing God is doing in the world?
  • If Jesus could raise someone from the dead…if he has power over life itself…then there can be no question in our minds that his own death on the cross is only because of his willing choice. For the rest of the book of John, we’ll see Jesus willingly choosing to die for humanity’s good. We have to wrestle with Thomas’ words, which are supposed to be our model as disciples: “Let’s go, too, and die with Jesus.” How do we die with Jesus? What sacrifices are we called to make?
  • Finally, there are just so many wonderful things to notice: the disciples’ continued misunderstandings; Martha missing what Jesus wants to do; Jesus and his compassion and strong emotion, even as he does not stray from his mission; and perhaps best of all, God’s Spirit giving a prophesy to Caiaphas, the worst of enemies. God can and does speak to and through people who are in the very act of plotting against what God is doing. God really is sovereign, completely in charge. What Caiaphas says is absolutely true, but it is true in a completely different way than Caiaphas intends.

I’m really serious about this…I want to hear your thoughts. Share what God draws your attention to in John 11. Raise questions, give your thoughts. Let’s join in teaching one another, as the bible says we ought. Hit the old comments, if you please!

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4 thoughts on “John 11, Lazarus

  1. I had long wondered why Jesus wept when he knew what he was about to do; it didn’t seem like he had a reason to weep, knowing that his friend would soon be alive again. I gained an insight last week, listening to an old tape of a pastor in the Philippines, who thinks that it was death itself that Jesus wept about: The cruel tyranny it has (had!!) over us and how this consequence of sin wreaks such devastation in the lives of humanity. It helped me to understand how much Jesus grieves over everything that robs us of the kind of life He intended for us.

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  2. First ignorant question: how do you know what portion of the Bible to preach about? Is there a common calendar for EFI or NWYM churches? Or did you choose this because it jumped out at you as relevant?

    Or is it more like casting lots, reading tea leaves, etc?

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  3. Thanks Walt!

    Hey Robin…it’s a good question. Every couple of months, I spend some time talking with others and listening to Christ for what passages of the bible we ought to look at together for the upcoming months. January through April, we’re working our way through the book of John.

    Friends don’t have a common calendar that I am aware of. There is something called the common lectionary, which I sometimes look at. It’s a collection of readings for each week that goes on a three year cycle as agreed upon by some major denominations.

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  4. Dude, you want us to skip ahead? Then we might actually know what happens! 🙂

    Some thoughts/ponderings I have – very rambly:

    — We live in an age that tries to defy/ignore death, sometimes at the cost of quality of life. Healthcare has been turned over to professionals, been made into a very expensive scientific process: compartmentalized If the Gospel is about Kingdom living and a holistic life, then what does that mean for us today? If everything is sacred and nothing is truly “secular,” then what does that mean for us and the health system/view on healthy living/attitude and engagement with death?

    — Christ didn’t ask God to raise Lazarus; he thanks Him for already doing it. Do we ever live/act with such boldness? Is that evident in our anemic society? Where? What would that look like in our daily living?

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