Sermon: Jesus Loves Mary, Martha, Lazarus and You (Part 1) John 11:17-27

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Jesus Loves Mary, Martha, Lazarus and You (Part 1)

John 11:17-27

Primary Truth Taught- Jesus reveals more of His glory to Martha, deepening her faith and giving her eternal life

Introduction

Last time we saw some very strange things going on in the beginning account of the death of Lazarus. Jesus told us that Lazarus’ sickness had a purpose that through this sickness God’s glory would be seen. We also read that once Jesus heard Lazarus was ill and sinking into death He waited two more days. The reason He waited was the glory of God. Then, we saw very clearly that Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
If we were to summarize what’s going on here we might say that it is loving for God to create suffering and grief for believers if through that suffering the believer would see more of God.
For God, revealing more of Himself to us is the most loving thing He can do. Because in showing us more of Himself we are receiving the person we need most for all of life and for all of eternity. Because eternal life is believing all that Jesus says and is then what God does to create that belief or strengthen that belief is the most loving thing He can do for us.
How did He show His love to Martha, Mary, Lazarus, then finally, to us.

Here, in our text today, we’re going to see how it is that Jesus shows His love specifically to Martha. What does Martha need from Jesus? What is it specifically that she lacks. Since God shows His love to us by revealing more of Himself How is it that Jesus reveals more of Himself to Martha? How does this affect her?

Human Need Met

Whatever we think our needs are today, our greatest need is to see and experience more of Jesus. When times are easy and when times are hard. This is exactly what Martha needed.

John 11:17–27 (ESV)

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

  1. Lord, If You’d Only Been Here

There is a Jewish tradition (I’m not saying it’s true) that says the soul of the deceased hovers around the body for three days trying to reenter. Once the natural decomposition begins the soul leaves.   This may be why Jesus waited four days after Lazarus died. So that no explanation could be given except God’s power was working through Him.[1]

20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  

These verses are completely understandable. Martha did not have the Book of John to read. She didn’t know what was going to happen next.

We must read this section in light of the previous verses…
John 11:5–6 (ESV)

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Martha was questioning Jesus’ love just like everyone else and just like we may be.

Jesus, you’ve healed everyone else…You have showed them mercy why not my brother? Martha was deeply grieving, deeply saddened by her brother’s death, and deeply confused by her Lord’s actions.
Can you sense the frustration here? I’m sure as Martha and Mary sat with their brother watching him slowly sink into death they waited for Jesus to come. They had sent word and expected every minute that He would walk through their door kneel down, pray asking God to heal Lazarus, then they would help him to his feet and rejoice that their brother was well. As they waited and as every noise at the door fell short of their expectations their hopes sank with Lazarus.
Martha never doubted for a second that Jesus had the power to heal Lazarus and she knew of His great love for all of them. For some reason He didn’t come. Why did He not come? To make matters even worse, Jesus arrived too late. He’s here now but Lazarus is dead.

  1. I Know He Will Rise Again at the Last Day

22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Martha, even in her grief knew and trusted Jesus. Her faith was still in tact, albeit shaken and fragile. She never doubted Jesus for a second. Her attitude seems to be much like Daniels companions who were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace…our God is able to deliver us, but if He doesn’t we will never bow down to you. She knew Jesus was able and trusted Him completely but was wondering why.

Even now, after my brother is dead, I know that God will give You whatever You ask. Martha knew Jesus and He knew her.
Martha had very good eschatology. She knew about the resurrection of all believers at the last day. She knew that at the last trumpet her brother would rise from the grave receive his resurrection body and be forever in the presence of her Lord. She knew that an end-times resurrection was coming she knew it from what her studies in Judaism taught her and she knew it from what Jesus taught her.

Do you trust in the fact that your loved one will also rise again at the last day? Jesus’ resurrection is proof that we too will rise from the grave. There is a biblical connection between Christ’s resurrection and ours.
1 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)

14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

2 Corinthians 4:14 (ESV)

14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

1 Corinthians 15 is the great resurrection chapter that in many places connects our Lord’s resurrection with ours. His resurrection is proof that we too will rise.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (ESV)

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

First fruit is the representation of all the rest. His rising from death to life is the pattern for what will happen to all who are His.
Martha knew about the end-times resurrection. What she didn’t know was the fact that Jesus was not speaking to her about that.
For us, we should take comfort in the fact that our loved ones who are in Christ will also rise again at the last day. We will see them again. We will rejoice with them again and we will worship our Lord together.
Martha was taking comfort in her accurate theology. Jesus was about to expand her universe. Jesus was going to show her great love because He’s about to reveal to Martha another dimension of Himself to her.

  1. I AM the Resurrection and the Life

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die
Jesus is giving Martha, Lazarus, and us exactly what we need. Notice what He tells her.
She’s just explained her belief about the resurrection to Jesus. Her belief is accurate. However, with Jesus things come early. There will be a great resurrection to life for all who belong to Jesus…someday. When Jesus was on earth, He did things early. What I mean is the resurrection of Lazarus will be a glimpse of what is to come full scale.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (ESV)

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Martha, you’re thinking about the future resurrection…I AM the resurrection. I AM He who will call all my people to rise from the dead. I will cause the massive resurrection of all believers and right now I’m going to give everyone a taste of what that will be like.
How did Jesus address Lazarus’ need here?
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live
How did Jesus address Martha here?
26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die
He’s telling Martha that her brother was a believer so even though he’s dead he will live. Then He tells her that even though she’s living and believing she will not die.
Jesus is comforting Martha by explaining that Lazarus will live again and she too will live. Notice it all revolves around the person’s belief in Jesus.
What does Jesus mean when He says if we believe we will never die?
We’re learning that belief is more than a cognitive assessment. Let’s look at how Jesus says it back in John 8…
John 8:51–53 (ESV)

51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”

The Jews have the same reaction we might have at least at first. Remember, Jesus is not saying their bodies won’t die. Abraham, the prophets, and Lazarus have all died physically. The death Jesus refers to here is an eternal spiritual death. For the four days Lazarus’ body was dead and in the grave, Lazarus was not dead. Jesus had His eternal loving grip on Lazarus. He was safely within the grip of Jesus and the Father.
Yes, We Die — And, No, We Don’t
Yes, we die: “Though he die, yet shall he live.” No, we don’t die: “Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Lazarus’ body lay dead in the grave. But Lazarus was not dead. His body was dead. But he was not dead. He had not died.
Even more important is the way Jesus says it in John 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Believers on Jesus have passed already from death to life. They have now already an eternal life. Eternal life cannot — cannot by definition — end. Believers do not see death. Do not taste death.[2]
4. Martha Has Never Tasted Death
27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

What we should see here is that through her broken grief stricken heart, through her frustration and tossed emotions her faith in her Lord has never for a second wavered.
Her response to Jesus’ question is the absolute strongest possible way she could have said it. It is hyper emphatic. I Believe! She believed everything Jesus told her about Himself to the degree that she was willing to follow Him anywhere. Her confession matches John’s purpose doesn’t it?
John 20:30–31 (ESV)

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Here’s what we need to understand that when we believe and then we’re given the gift of eternal life we never die. For Lazarus, God still had him. There is no time between our physical death and resurrection that we are dead. Eternal life means that we are forever, without a lapse, alive.
John 12:24 (ESV)

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

1 Corinthians 15:35–38 (ESV)

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

Like a seed that has an outer shell that dies and falls away so too our bodies die, fall away. When God raises us up, it will be with a new body.
Because of her belief, this is also a picture of Martha. Martha will never taste death. If you believe, this is also a picture of you.
Let’s look at what Martha believed…
you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

You are the Messiah, the Son of God meaning God incarnate, and You are the One who is promised and who we’ve all been waiting for.
I pray today that this is your confession as well.
Already, Jesus is showing Martha His love for her by revealing more of who He is to her. Remember when God loves us when He gives us more of Himself. She now has another dimension of God she can believe in. Since belief is eternal life for us then God loves us when He shows us more of Himself. Most often this is done through suffering.
So let’s go back for a second and see that for His people then suffering is the means God uses to show us more of Himself and that’s exactly what we need to have eternal life. That’s what Jesus did for Martha…He loved Martha, so He waited two more days to go to her.

Application
Whenever we come to a crossroad in life that causes us to cling to God more tightly or seek Him more diligently remember that’s God placing us in a position to learn and receive more of Him than ever before. This may come through trials and suffering, it may come through great joy, it may come through some everyday blessing but however it comes let’s be careful to not waist the opportunity to learn more of God and believe in a greater way.
If it’s through grief, trial, pain, suffering, great joy, or everyday things, don’t waist the chance to have your faith in Christ made more solid and firm.
Seek to discover how God is specifically showing you or revealing to you Himself in just they way you need Him to. For Martha, she needed to see Who is responsible for the resurrection she believed in. When she learned it was Jesus, her faith soared and she was never the same again. Because of her belief she would never taste death.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

Declaration of Grace

In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

[1] The Gospel According to John by D A Carson

[2] John Piper

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