Not Even Death Can Stop a Miracle

This post is also available in: Francés Inglés

Morgan Becker, preached at the NNU Wesley Center Festival of Young Preachers

John 11:32-44

 

In the past few years, I have experienced anxiety in my life. When I get anxious I begin to feel as

if I have no air in my lungs and it becomes very difficult to breathe. I begin to question whether

or not I am really living out the life that God has planned for me, because if I truly was I would

not be anxious. Anxiety and insecurity were never a part of the plan that God ever had for us.

However, God does promise that he will sustain us, that he will not lead us into anything that he

doesn’t plan to also lead us out of. We tend to sit in our anxiousness and fear instead of running

into the arms of God for security. We rather run farther away from God because we do not have a

greater trust that no matter what he will provide for our every needs. We are being called into a

life of running into the arms of God no matter what our life looks like. God has called us into a

life of persisting his goodness, not perfection and once we can lean into that we will be able to

truly step into the call that God has for us to run to him and out of our tombs just like the story of

Lazarus. Today we are going to talk about John 11:32-44, the story of the resurrection of

Lazarus.

 

32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him,

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping,

and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly

troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could

not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.

39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by

this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not

tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone.

And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that

you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may

believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice,

“Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen

strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

As we read this story in John we are presented with Mary and Martha going to Jesus twice. First

they go to him and tell him that their brother is dying. Jesus hears them but continues in his

teaching, and does not pick up his things and go straight to Lazarus. In that moment in the story

the first few times that I read it I questioned if the connection that I thought that Jesus and

Lazarus had was even real, did Jesus really love him the way that I thought he did? I read it a few

more times, and I realized that that is exactly what some of the Jews were thinking. Jesus, the

man with the healing power, if he could perform other miracles, why is this one one that he did

not have the power to do? If it was possible for him to go and give Lazarus life again why would

he not just go right then and there and perform a miracle? The second time that Mary and Martha

go to Jesus, it is when they cry at his feet in telling him that their brother is dead, and if he had

been there that he would not have died. I feel the pain of Mary and Martha in this moment. I

usually give God about two chances before I give up on him and question his plan. In this

moment I am sure that Mary and Martha did not understand. In my life when Jesus does not just

pick up everything and go to perform a miracle in my life I instantly tell myself that he doesn’t

even have the power to perform these miracles. There is an underlying plan here that only Jesus

and his Father knew. The son of God was to be glorified within the sickness that Lazarus had.

This had to happen so that the Father would be glorified as the source of all life no matter the

nature of impossibility in any situation, and the son would be glorified as he is in obedience with

his Father also being an overwhelming source of life. Jesus knew exactly what he was doing.

When he sees Mary and Martha weeping he shows a relatable human characteristic. He weeps

with them. As I read the verse “Jesus wept” I get emotional every single time. My God has come

to the Earth, to be fully human and also fully God so that it moments like these he can have the

ability to meet me in my suffering. Jesus weeps with Mary and Martha, he feels the deep pain in

this moment because Lazarus was one of his dearest and closest friends. Jesus was deeply

moved, and he wanted everyone to see the way that he could hurt for a loss.

 

When I was younger I was taught that crying was weakness and showed that I was not

good enough and weak. To this day I have a hard time crying in front of other people. In this

verse “Jesus wept”, Jesus gives validation to the fact that weeping with your brothers and sisters

is not imperfect because Jesus had the ability to do it and he was perfect. We are called into

vulnerability with the God who understands and has ability to empathize with our pain.

As Jesus was moved again he approaches the tomb that Lazarus is in. Martha is right

there to say that if they open the tomb that there is going to be a terrible smell. When I read this I

see myself saying to Jesus, no you can’t open my tomb because I have been dead in my sin for so

long there will be a terrible stink. As if we think that Jesus doesn’t know already that it isn’t

going to be pretty. I say Jesus no, its too much for you it’s too much for anyone. Please, that

stone has to stay there because the terrible smell of sin in my life is way too much for you. I

don’t want you to have to smell this horrible smell because you are Jesus and that is not the way

that I want to present myself to you. BUT NO Jesus calls the stone to be rolled away!! In this

moment the stone is rolled away from the tomb, and Jesus cries out to his Father in thankfulness

that he has heard him so that everyone around him may believe that he has been truly sent by the

Father.

 

Jesus cries out, “Lazarus come out”, and right then and there Lazarus comes out of the

tomb. When he comes out his hands, feet, and face are still wrapped in bandages and Jesus says,

“unbind him and let him go”!!. Jesus calls Lazarus by name! With three words Jesus gives life to

Lazarus. When Lazarus comes out still wrapped in cloths Jesus calls the people around him to

unbind him, unwrap him so that he can finally be set free. When Jesus calls my name, when

Jesus calls for me to come out of my tomb into new life I hesitate. We all do. We hesitate because

none of us feel like we deserve this new life that Jesu calls us into. Jesus calls my name and I am

tempted to run even further into my tomb. And surely if I ever did wake up and come out, I

wouldn’t want anyone to take off my bandages because the sores are too deep and they smell too

bad.

 

Jesus they are too much for you, my wounds smell, it is too much for you and even

though you have called me into this new life, I don’t deserve to be free, so I will live with the

bandages on. And Jesus comes to us as he is unwrapping our bandages and he calls us by our

name. Stop living in light of your sin and start living in the new life that that I have chosen for

you to dwell in. Jesus has called every single one of us into this new life that he has for us, and

he doesn’t care about our smells, he doesn’t care about the wounds that sin has made in our life,

all he cares about is that we know that he is always chasing us, he is always going to come for

us. He cares that our fear becomes faith. Perhaps that is the whole reason that Jesus waited until

the fourth day to see Lazarus. He wanted everyone to come out of this moment with the

confidence that he was sent by the Father, and that not even death can stop the miracle working

hands of Jesus. Jesus is a miracle working God, he was back in the days of Lazarus, and he still

is now. We are called out of our sinful human nature into a life of faith that knows that Jesus will

come and raise us up. The intimate relationship that Jesus and Lazarus had is a perfect example

of the relationship that we are being called into. When the painful things of our life happen, Jesus

weeps. We worship a relational and relatable God who knows the feeling of pain. We all need

miraculous healing, whether that is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual healing. In this

passage, Jesus proves to his people that nothing is impossible for him. If he can defeat death,

then there is nothing that can stop him from doing the work of his father. We are called into

having confidence that no matter what trials we go through, and no matter how far into our sin

we are, that Jesus is right outside of our tombs calling us into new life. This new life looks like

an intense trust for the plans that the Lord has for each of us. This looks like having a radical

faith that not only has Jesus chosen you specifically but that he is also going to use you. This

looks like an intense love for others, one that is so strong that people notice something different

in you and they begin to desire it for themselves. This looks like loving your family

unconditionally the way that Jesus unconditionally loves his people even if we are doubtful and

question his presence. This looks like trusting God with your financial situations, your

relationships, and all of the worldly things that hinder the way that we trust God. This looks like

leaning into community and realizing that we can not take off our bandages alone. This looks

like trust. Jesus we know that you will come.

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