In John Chapter 11 Jesus told Martha that He was the resurrection and the life, and then He asked her if she believed what He said. The answer that Martha gave is found in John 11:27. The Bible says, "She said unto him, Yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." Itís very important to have a part in the resurrection from the dead so that you will live forever. Jesus is the resurrection, and the thing that you must do to become united with Him in the resurrection is to believe. Thatís all. Thatís it. Thereís nothing else to do, but to believe. Paul said in Rom. 4:3 that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. Thatís why Jesus asked Martha if she believed. Will you have a part in the resurrection that Jesus will give? The answer will be determined by what you believe. Martha will be there because she said to Jesus, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God."
John 11:28-37 says, "And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come and calls for you. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up hastily, and went out, followed her, saying, She goes unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if you had been here my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And said, Where have you laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him. And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?"
Martha said to Mary, "The Master is come, and calls for you." When anyone comes to Jesus, it must happen just like this. First, Jesus calls us to Himself. He calls us in spite of the noise of the angry world. He calls us with a still, small voice that we can hear with our conscience because we are human beings with the capacity for spiritual awakening. He calls us because we are not sufficient in and of ourselves, and we need His companionship. Jesus calls us because He is love, and He offers us the great eternal love of God. After Jesus called Mary, the Bible says that she arose quickly and came to Him. Itís very important to come to God quickly when He calls you, because the attractions of the world or the busy affairs of life may cause you to no longer hear His call. "Many are called but few are chosen," because some of those who are called do not do what Mary did. They fail to arise and go quickly to Jesus. If God is speaking to your heart, itís critical that you respond positively to Him and quickly. "Boast not thyself of tomorrow, because a man knows not what a day may bring forth." "Behold, today is the day of salvation: now is the accepted time."
When the Jews saw Mary get up and leave, they thought that she was surely going to the grave to mourn for her brother Lazarus. But they were wrong: she was going to Jesus. If the choice is to go to the place of sorrow and mourn there, or to go to Jesus; itís much better to go to Jesus. The hope and the comfort and the love that Jesus can offer is beyond understanding. What a shame that some people remain shackled by the regrets and sorrows of this life, when they could have taken their burden to the Lord and left it there.
When Mary came to Jesus, she said the exact same thing to Him that Martha said. "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died." Thatís an expression of faith. Both Martha and Mary had strong faith in Jesus. And because of the miracle that Jesus is about to do, their faith will become even stronger. "To him that has, shall be given. But to him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has." Look for faith. Seek it, and find it. Then when you have it, express it and act on it and you will be given even more.
Before they got to the grave, Mary and the others had come to Jesus. This was a time for great and heavy sorrow for these people. Lazarus must have been an exceptional person, because the people that knew him had an exceptional sorrow. The Bible says that Jesus groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and it says that Jesus wept. Perhaps this was Jesus in sorrow for the dead and departed Lazarus, or perhaps Jesus felt the pain of the others who were in mourning. If someone that you know and care about has passed on, there is nothing wrong with having a time of sorrow and mourning. There is a time for weeping, but there is also a time for rejoicing. The sorrow of death should be replaced by the hope of the resurrection. Even Jesus wept at the sorrow of death: itís no wonder that such sorrow destroys some people, especially when they have no hope of life after death.
Death is the last and the greatest enemy of mankind. If we solve all the other problems of the earth, but we still die, then we have not solved very much. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Thatís why the raising from the dead is so important. If there is no such thing as the resurrection from the dead, then it does not matter what you believe because your faith is vain anyway. The resurrection from the dead is the final and greatest proof of who Jesus was, and itís the most significant of all the miracles that He performed.
John 11:38-44 says, "Jesus therefore again groaning in himself came to the grave. It was a cave and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said to him, Lord, by this time he smells badly: because he has been dead four days. Jesus said to her, Did I not say to you, that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that you hear me always; but because of the people who stand by I said it, that they may believe that you have sent me. And when He had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go."
Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He prayed to the Father. Jesus wanted the disciples to understand that His power was associated with His connection to the Father. Jesus came into the world to bring glory to the Father. In this passage we see Jesus as a man of sorrows, a man of compassion, and a man of prayer. In this prayer Jesus said to the Father, "You hear me always." Undoubtedly, the life of Jesus was a constant ongoing prayer. Prayer is talking to God. Notice that in this prayer, Jesus did not ask the Father for anything; He simply talked to the Father. You can always talk to the Father because He is everywhere, and the Father will always hear you. Do you understand the way that Jesus did that the Father always hears you?
When Jesus told them to roll the stone away from the door of the grave, Martha was surprised and warned Jesus that there would be a terrible stench because Lazarus had now been dead for four days, and the decomposition of his body would have already progressed considerably. Jesus saved His greatest miracle for the end of His life, because what could be greater than to give new life to the cells of the body when once they had begun to decompose? But Jesus will one day do even greater. He will give new life to dried bones and to the very dust of the ground. The grave will not keep its prey, because of the power of God on the resurrection day.
In John 11:45-46 the Bible says, "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done." Some people think that in the age in which we live, itís too hard to believe in God and in the miracles of the Bible. But itís no harder than it has ever been. The same spiritual principles are at work today that were at work during the time of Christ. Even if you saw a miracle with your own eyes, you would not believe unless you were ready to be rightly related to God.
To some people it did not really matter if the miracle happened or not. The Jewish leaders opposed Jesus because they were paranoid about their position of power and privilege. They viewed Jesus as a rival. Be careful: not all competition is good. Sometimes itís evil. John 11:47-52 says, "Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What should we do? for this man does many miracles. If we let him alone, everyone will believe on Him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said to them, You know nothing at all, Nor consider that itís expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spoke he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad."
In the Gospel of John we are now just a couple of weeks from the time that Jesus would die. Jesus came to die for the sins of the world. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus because they were jealous of Him: but this is just a great example of the power of God, who uses all things to accomplish His will: even the jealousy and hatred of selfish men. Things may look bad sometimes, but if you are a child of God, He may lead you through the valley of the shadow of death or even worse, but you will end up in green pastures.
Jesus came to die for us because of His great, eternal love; and there is something else that Jesus came to do. It says in John 11:52 that He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. One of the things that have plagued mankind from the beginning of the human race is the divisions and the strife and the wars that have so often pitted man against man and nation against nation. Today there are wars that rage in many parts of the world, and innocent ones are being slaughtered because of it. In our own country even when there is not a war going on, we feel the pain of so many who are not able to get along in unity. Families have been torn apart, and marriages have been destroyed because of the tendency of humans to separate from one another for a multitude of reasons. And so often we can look back and say, how much better it would have been had they only been able to stay together and work together. In places that you would expect the greatest unity, there is too often the greatest divisions: such as the church. One would think that the church of Jesus Christ would be united by their faith in Jesus. But there may be no greater divisions than that which divides the various churches and denominations.
Humans recognize the need for unity, but they are unable to accomplish it for very long. But just as humans are not able to save themselves, and it requires Jesus to save us. The same is ultimately true about the unity that we need. One day all the children of God will be united, because Jesus will do it. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish it. Those who opposed Jesus, by putting Him to death, have helped to seal not only the salvation of the children of God, but also the ultimate unity and togetherness of those who believe in Jesus.
But the leaders of the Jews made their decision to put Jesus to death. They went beyond the point of repentance. They hardened their own hearts. The Bible says in John 11:53-57, "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went from there into a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jewsí Passover was near at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spoke among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What do you think, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where he were, he should show it, that they might take him."
Things were now prepared for the death of Jesus. The miracles had been performed, the wonderful words had been spoken and the will of God had been done by Jesus. Jealousy and paranoia had done their work in the hearts of the religious leaders. The main thing that was left was for the Passover to arrive. Jesus did not come to Jerusalem until the Passover, because He was the Passover lamb. At the first Passover, God told Moses to tell the people to kill innocent animals and to put the blood on the posts of the doors; and God said that when He saw the blood, He would pass over them and they would be saved. Jesus is now the Passover that God gave, and the reason that Jesus died on the Passover is because He is the Passover lamb; given by God for the sins of the world. The only question is: has Jesus become your Passover lamb? Thatís why Jesus shed His blood: so that you could enter into the promise, and at the judgment God might say to you: because I see the blood of Jesus, I will pass over you and you are saved, instead of being judged for your sins.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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