Classic Christianity – Book of John Part 51 (07-29-19)
Bob shares from the book of John where Lazarus had died. Jesus meets Mary and Martha. Martha tells Jesus, “If you had only been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask will be done.” Here we come to see more about the person of Jesus. When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Jesus is a real person with a heart. Jesus, being God in the flesh, was at His Father’s side, creating all that exists, the world we see and all of mankind. Mankind was designed to be created with the Spirit of God living in him. Here he is among his own creation. Imagine God weeping at the fall of man, seeing what was intended in his creation, knowing how man was designed to function, destroyed in a moment by the cunning of Satan, once known as Lucifer, a fallen angel, who has become the father of lies and has deceived man and has him bound in sin and death. That is why God sent His only son into the world that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus came to comfort Mary and Martha, but God had a greater purpose for his coming. Jesus always did exactly what he saw His Father doing. Jesus identifies himself as the resurrection and the life. Many people think of eternal life as some day I will be raised to go to a place called heaven. Jesus explained that he is the resurrection, a person that can live inside you this very moment by simple belief. This is called being born again of the Spirit of God. This is how you can live in the manner God intended from the beginning, to have a real and dynamic relationship with the living God.
Jesus has compassion. He was just not a miracle worker. He is God with a heart. God so loved us you and me. He is a God of love, full of compassion for you and me. We see the humanity of Jesus, identifying with man, becoming like one of us, but without sin. We see the heart of God at work inside Jesus, who is God in the flesh. We see Jesus walking among men, teaching them truths about himself, that he is God and he came to give mankind new life in Him. We do not always grasp everything Jesus is saying, but little by little, truth is made known into our hearts as we see Him at work. He draws men to himself. The humble listen to his voice. They hear his voice and begin to understand spiritual truth as God reveals Himself to them. In a moment, in an instant, their eyes are open and they come alive in truth.
How hard it is for us to understand. How slow of heart for us to believe. We are inundated with the ideas and thoughts of this world. We are bound up in the letter of the law, in legalism, thinking we are okay by striving to obey the law. But the law crushes us so we realize something is deeply wrong within me. I am empty inside like a dead corpse. I am dead without the Spirit of God living in me. That is why I am empty and longing for something I do not know but realize I do not have. Then the Spirit of Jesus makes Himself known!
Jesus raises us to new life in Him. Jesus tells us to take off those old clothes of the law and to put on new clothes of His righteousness. When we do, we can truly live in the present, in the world we live in, not by our own efforts and our natural thinking, but by the supernatural life of Jesus in us. Only Jesus can raise the dead to life again, like he did Lazarus, not just a physical resurrection but the receiving of new spiritual life. He lives in us to will and to act according to his good purposes. We never had such life in us before. He came to understand we were born dead in sin through the fall. That is why Jesus came. He came to take away our sins, the cause of death, in order that when he is raised to new life, we too are raised to new life in Him. Not life that will someday come but life now. For this is eternal life, to know God and His son Jesus Christ. He is the resurrection and the life.
Not everyone responded in faith to believe in Jesus. There were those who believed in Jesus because of his miracles. When you see Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, you would think that would be enough for anyone to believe who he said he is and what he came to do. There are those who saw this miracle and yet will go running out to their leaders to ask them what they think. Even today, people will hear truth and yet run to old Martin Luther to see what he has to say, or run to their pastor to see what he had to say. Can you not believe because Jesus revealed truth to you. What if the leaders you turned to told you something different than what you clearly heard from God? Would you trust your leaders over the clear revelation from God himself? We do not need confirmation of truth from men. It is nice to have but we do not need it. God is the one who reveals truth to men. No one else has been to heaven but Jesus. No one knows what truth is but Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life. We have His word today from those who were eyewitnesses of all that Jesus said and did. Let us put our trust in what God reveals to us by His Spirit as we read His word. Men can deceive you but when your confidence is in the meaning of God’s word as the Spirit reveals truth to you, reveals Himself to you, who is truth, you will not be easily led astray.
Then you have the response of the religious leaders, who although they saw or heard the report of Lazarus being raised from the dead, they did not deny that Jesus did that, but yet failed to come to Christ for life. They only saw Jesus as one who violated their man-made laws of healing on the Sabbath. They only thought of their position of authority and their power and thought, “How dare Jesus come along and say he knows more than us?” or “What has he accomplished?” or “Now all these people are following him rather than us.” Job security is what led the religious leaders, the Pharisees, to determine in their heart to kill Jesus. They saw him as a threat to their position and their nation. God, knowing all men, knew it had to be this way, so he could ultimately go to the cross. That is why we read that God causes all things to happen for the good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.We, as natural man, are accustomed to things in the natural realm, and tend to think only in terms of this life, the immediate world around us. So we ask questions like, “Why did God allow my mother to die?” Yet, when you think about how God created man with free will and how the first man Adam chose to use his free will to disobey God so that sin and death entered the world, then you see more clearly how even though God does not cause these things, murders and rapes and all the evil we see, and even disease and death. All of nature groans for its redemption. We live in a fallen world. We even realize that we have sinned and use our free will against the purposes of God. God allows these things to happen and at times he intervenes, as in the gospel of John, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. But Jesus operates always in the will of the Father, what His Father has called him to do and say and in His time. A man was blind for over 40 years. Why did God not heal him sooner? Why was he even born blind? Those are the kind of questions that natural man asks. We read that Jesus said that this was allowed to happen so that the glory of God would be revealed. We may not understand all the details but we know God always has a greater purpose, and that is the raising of men to new spiritual life in Him. He came to make the blind see and the seeing blind.
God is Spirit. God wants people to willingly come to him because they want to. That is the way he created man and that is why man has free will. So God does not intervene in every situation, and not in accordance with how we think he should work. Our prayers do not cause God to act. Otherwise we would be God. We are to respond to God in accordance with His will, not ours. God is the initiator and we are the responder. We would not even know what love is if He did not love us first. God so loved the world that He sent His one and only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love. We are to love as God loved us. We can only do that as we allow him to live His life in us and through us. We tend to make a god out of our own imaginations. How much more so when not knowing God or His Word! We are to trust God in all things, not for all things. But in all things, we can trust Him to cause all things to happen for the good. We can take God at His word. So too with the death of Jesus. Jesus said it was for the joy set before him that he endured the cross, scorning its shame. For he knew he had received a command by his Father to be raised from the dead when the time comes. That time has now come in our day. For that was accomplished over 2000 years ago. Jesus died, was buried and rose again, all to the glory of the Father. He who seeks, not his own glory, but the glory of God, there is nothing false in him.
We were talking about the announcement to Jesus that his good friend Lazarus had died. Jesus made the announcement to people that he is sleeping. They thought he was talking about natural sleep but Jesus was talking about death.
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Here again people understood the teaching of resurrection. They understood that when the Messiah came that on the last day, there will be a resurrection. But Jesus clarified. “Yes, you are looking forward to a resurrection on the last day, but I am the resurrection and where I am there will be a resurrection, not in the future, but right now.” He is talking about you and me going to be raised from our state of spiritual death at the very moment of spiritual birth. We are not waiting for an event in the future. It happens the moment you are born again of the Spirit of God. That was not understood at the time but it was certainly proclaimed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus is talking about two different kinds of death. Though he were dead, and you cannot believe in someone when dead physically, but dead spiritually, yet shall he live spiritually. Whosoever lives spiritually shall never die spiritually. We are all going to die physically. The real you is not this house, this body, we live in. This house will burn down or go to the grave some day. Our bodies will die and return to the dust. We came from the dust and will return to the dust. This house we live in, and some have better houses than others, but the real you is the invisible you, that is expressed though the body. The real you is what is not there when you look at a corpse. The one who believes in me, while alive physically, even though he dies physically, he will live forever spiritually and whoever lives physically and by believing in me will never die spiritually. Jesus asked her, “Do you believe this?” Jesus just asked her a question and she answered in a strange way.
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Jesus did not ask her that. Jesus asked if she believed in what he just told her. She is saying, “I do not know for sure what you are talking about. But this is what I do know and believe. I believe you are that person.” Is that faith? Yes. Did she understand all that Jesus was saying to her? No. She was acknowledging what she did know and did believe.
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
She understood that wherever Jesus was, that if he is the resurrection and the life, then he could have saved him from death.
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
Jesus has compassion. He was just not a miracle worker. He is God with a heart. God so loved us, you and me. He is a God of love, full of compassion for you and me. We came into this world as broken vessels. We came into this world broken and scarred. We came into this world in depravity. We came into this world without hope, with no way of ever entering the presence of a perfectly holy God in our condition. God looked down on his fallen humanity, humanity he made to live forever, and through the work of Satan, that we became death instruments. We are instruments of death. He looked down upon us full of mercy and compassion. I imagine if we could see Spirit, there was a tear in his eye as well, as he looks down at His humanity whom he created for His own glory, and seeing us in the fallen state we had fallen into. We get a glimpse of that when we look at people who are not in Christ Jesus and when we look at nations who do not follow what the bible says is truth about salvation in Christ Jesus and him alone. We look at people who follow other gods or foreign gods. We look at people who pay no attention to Jesus as who he is, God, but may recognize him as a good teacher or a prophet, but never come to him as savior and Lord. And we see the repercussions in the hearts of people that refuse God when he has testified to us and the entire world that God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sins against us. Jesus too was moved, When you see the heart of Jesus, you see the heart of God. God too weeps when he sees the dilemma he finds us in.
34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
This is the shortest passage in all scripture.
35 Jesus wept.
Jesus wept at the sight of those who were weeping for their beloved Lazarus. He too wept at those who were dying.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
That was an evidence to them Jesus loved Lazarus.
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
“Why does God allow this to happen?” Have you ever said that or heard someone else say that? How could a loving God allow this to happen? How can God let this good men die? How does God let a bad man die? Any man die? Because the wages of sin is death. That is why. There is a law of God that sin caused death and the consequences of sin is death. In the midst of that, he came to execute a plan, to give spiritual life to the dead that can only come through Christ Jesus.
Many times we have this tendency to ask, “How can God allow this to happen?” instead of asking, “What does God want me to learn from this experience?” There is a difference in those two. People have asked, “How can you let my father die? Or my mother die?” God did not cause it to happen but he allows it to happen because he gave man a will, to choose to follow God. But man chose to follow Satan and when he did, sin and death entered this world. Even nature groans for its redemption.
The whole world fell when Satan caused sin to enter the world. God will not intervene or impinge upon your will and my will. He will continue to allow the will to be expressed until finally every knee will bow and confess Jesus is Lord. You will come to the end of yourself and recognize who we have been neglecting in our life, and that is Christ Jesus. So many times people say, “He could have opened his eyes. He could have saved her. He did not have to let her die.” We have to recognize that we often ask these questions because of our own selfishness.
We are not so concerned when somebody else dies. We are just concerned when someone we love dies. Aren’t we? We are not so concerned if somebody else‘s husband runs out on his wife. We just are concerned if that one is mine. That is how we are. We are concerned with our baby. I will rock my baby. God looks beyond the immediate. He looks at the needs of the entire world. God looks at those needs and says, “I will cause all things to work together for the good of those who love God and have been called according to his purpose. I will not make bad good.” That is why we can praise God in all things. We have that promise from Christ Jesus.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.
It was very similar to the tomb Jesus was buried in. It was a cave with a stone rolled across the entrance.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
The corpse does stink.
39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
Did I not tell you, that if you believed, you will see the glory of God? Is the glory of God dependent on their believing or is it dependent upon Jesus. He is saying, “that if you trust me, and put your faith in me, you will see the glory of god. Your faith in me will not cause me to raise Lazarus from the dead. Your faith in me is going to say ‘I trust in you that you will go and do whatever you say you will do. If you said you will raise Lazarus, then you will raise Lazarus.’”
41 So they took away the stone.
Why? Because they trusted what Jesus said.
Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
He is going to explain why he is praying. It is not because he has any doubt that the Father is going to hear him, but we, who are listening, will come to understand something.
42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
Why did he say just Lazarus? If he had not said Lazarus, then you would have had a mass exodus out of the grave. So he isolates it to one person’s name to come out, Lazarus.
44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
This is a picture of resurrection. You may have been raised from the dead but you are still in the grave clothes of legalism. Those are clothes for the dead. The law is clothes for the dead. You may be alive but there is something else you must do to be alive. You must take off what killed you.
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.”
You may be alive but you have these grave clothes, this law hanging on you, condemning you to death. The law is grave clothes of the dead. Law can also be the grace clothes for those who are also alive. There are many people walking around, alive in Christ, still clothed, not in the righteousness of Christ Jesus, but still clothed in grace clothes of the law. Until you die to the law, you will never come alive to Christ Jesus.
What does it mean to die to yourself? What do you die to? The law. That is what you die to. The law is what demands you to behave. If you are going to die to self and keep the law alive, you will never die to yourself. The law is always demanding you to do or not do something. We must learn that law is not your friend. The purpose of the law is like a mirror to show you your face is dirty. You do not use a mirror to wipe dirt off your face. You use a mirror to recognize your condition so you can go to Christ Jesus for cleansing. You do not go to a wash rag to see if your face is dirty. You go to the mirror to see the dirt. You use the wash rag to wipe the dirt off your face. The law was given as a reflection, to show you that you are a sinner. This is the purpose of the law. It showed me my face was dirty so I turn to him for my cleansing and turn to him for my resurrected life.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
So what can be summarized concerning the purpose of the law?
- Law was temporary until Christ came
- Law was not opposed to the promises of God
- Law cannot give life.
- Law cannot make anyone righteous
- Law brings the knowledge of sin.
- Law held us captive or locked up until faith could be revealed.
- Law stops the sinner’s mouth from justifying itself.
- Law helps the world to realize that they are guilty.
- Law acts as a schoolmaster (guardian) to bring us to Christ.
When you turned to Christ Jesus, you leave the law behind. The law did its work. It showed me my condition. Now I am going to turn to him for his provision. I am not going to be camping on what showed me my face is dirty the rest of my life. I am camping on the one who cleansed me once I saw my face was dirty. The law keeps you focused over here and grace keeps you focused with Him and what he is doing. Law keeps you focused on you and what you are not doing but grace keeps me focused on what He is doing. Take these grave clothes off you. Some of you came from a very legalistic background and God is still dealing with you to peel these layers off. But it comes a point that you have to take those grave clothes off. You have to get rid of them so you can walk free, not free with no leading, but free to be led by the Holy Spirit of God living in you.
Later, in the next chapters, you can see why he told them to take off the grace clothes because he will explain in detail how to be led by the Holy Spirit of God.
2 Corinthians 3:6
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
As spiritual people, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit of God living in us. He will lead you into all truth, to take the things of Jesus Christ and make them known to you.
14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
If a man could do this, that would get your attention, would it not? If you had seen a person dead for 4 days walk out of a grave and a man tells him to take his grave clothes off, now that would get your attention! So they put their faith in him.
46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
You can hear the Pharisees saying, “Do you know what this guy did? What kind of magic trick did he pull?” Would that get the Pharisees attention? Yes, it really did.
One group said I will believe Jesus. Another group went to tell the leaders. How many times have you heard a truth and you run to a pastor to see what he thinks 11:18 AM 7/28/2019about it. You hear the chattering. “I will run to old Martin Luther and see what he thinks about it. I will run to Billy Graham and see what he thinks about it. I will run to a Calvinist and see what he thinks about it. I will run to anyone and see what he thinks about it. If they think something about it, then maybe that is what I should think.” Why? We do not trust the Spirit of God living in me. If the Holy Spirit is living in you, he will reveal truth to you.
1 Corinthians 2:10
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
1 John 2:27
27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.
You do not need it confirmed. It is nice to have it confirmed. The truth is you do not need it confirmed by man if it is confirmed by the Spirit of God. Bob said he would have liked to have confirmation from somebody on the totality of the cross but he could find no one. The Holy Spirit revealed that truth to him through the reading of God’s word. He can and will do the same for you.
47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
So the leaders do what they always do. They call a meeting. Get the whole group together to develop a plan of action. “We just head a report and no reason to doubt. We have seen him heal a blind man on the Sabbath, and we know he is a Sabbath breaker. How can we get rid of this man?
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked.
If you were there hearing them talk, this is what you could have heard: “What are we accomplishing by allowing this man to live. We are trying to negotiate. You cannot negotiate with this man. He just tells what is true and what he says is true is the opposite of what I think is true. What are we accomplishing? We are the leaders. We are the big dogs. We are the ones on television.”
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked.
“Here is this man performing many signs.”
You would think that their attitude would be, “This man might be who he is claiming to be. It is not what we are accomplishing. What does he seem to be accomplishing? Could this be the Messiah we are teaching everybody about? Could this be?” Never a thought. Never a thought.
“Here is this man performing many signs”
They are not denying Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. They are just saying he is performing these miracles and then they say this.
48 “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”