(John 11:39)

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Pastor Carolyn Sissom

John 11:40:  Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?

Jesus was in the region of Jericho, where John at first baptized (Jn. 10:40).   He is called to Bethany knowing the Sanhedrin has given orders to arrest Him on sight.  As we have studied the gospel of Mark, as dictated by Peter, Jesus has persistently not only quoted scripture revealing that He is the Messiah, but performed the Word of God which reveals He is the Son of God made flesh.  He has informed the disciples and others that in Jerusalem He will be executed and will raise from the dead on the third day.  The disciples continue to be clueless, not understanding the power of God to raise the dead.

The gospels record three people Jesus raised from the dead before He, Himself, rose from the dead.  The three people were the widow’s son of Nain (Lk. 7:11-17), Jairus’ daughter (Lk 8:40-50), and Lazarus (John 11:1-44). 

Our story today is about Lazarus.

John 11:5:  Now, Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

There can be no conjecture regarding this home in Bethany where Jesus chose many times as a place of rest and refreshing.  On the hills and mountains of Galilee, we know Jesus as the Son of God holding fellowship with His Father.  Here in Bethany, we see Him as the Son of man enjoying sympathetic fellowship with loving friends.

The village of Bethany lies on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives a mile from the summit and a half-day’s walk from Jerusalem.  The Mount of Olives was well trodden by Jesus’ footsteps and sanctified by His presence.  O blissful Home! O honored Home on the Mount. 

 If the cup of cold water given to a prophet shall not lose its reward; ---what shall be the reward of that loving and beloved family, whose sympathy and kindness served to ease the burdens of “the Man of sorrows,” and brighten his path.

It is without any stretching of the Word of God, we can conclude this family occupied a position of some wealth and influence.  In John 11:1b: “…Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.”  The ointment (Jn. 11:2) which Mary anointed the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair was very costly.

John 11:2: (It was Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick).

(It is my persuasion that the anointing by the woman with the alabaster box (Luke 7) is a separate incident from the anointing by Mary???). 

The town of Mary and her sister Martha” would imply their dwelling was distinguished amid the lowlier ones that surrounded it.

Jesus was “no respecter of persons,” but he was guest and associate alike of rich and poor, lowly and honorable.

It is remarkable in the narratives of John no light whatever is cast upon the character of Lazarus.  We seem to know his sisters intimately, by their marked individuality; but Lazarus is shadowy---undefined.  We are acquainted with him only as their brother and Jesus loved him.  Lazarus was probably the youngest of the household.   

John 11:1-3:  Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)  His sisters sent to Him, saying, Lord, behold he whom you love is sick.

A messenger is sent with a message --- Yes, Jesus already knew that Lazarus was sick.  He knows far better than we know ourselves every pain we bear, every tear we weep, every perplexing path we tread; but the prayer must ascend.  We have this blessed link of communication between our souls and Heaven!  More especially in our seasons of trouble, (when, vain is the help of man (Psa. 60:11)

Prayer brings us near to Jesus.  He may linger, as He did now at the Jordan, but it is always for some wise reason; and even if the answer given is not in accordance with our preconceived wishes or anxious desires, yet how comforting to have put our case and all its perplexities in His hand.

11: 4-6:  When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.’  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.  When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where he was.

The raising of Lazarus from death was a fixed appointment in time.  Jesus was on time, prayed up, and followed exactly the leadership of the Spirit. 

Lazarus was predestined and ordained to be raised from the dead revealing Jesus Christ as the Resurrection and the Life.  We are all a word sent from God to this planet on a specific assignment. 

All believers who follow the example of Jesus know that we too have a divine schedule to meet, a schedule which demands we be prayed up, paid up, and postured.

We must be awakened by His hand and directed by His voice---everyday.  We must know His plan for that day.  Our tongues must speak words which have been crafted by the Father. 

Jesus was on God’s schedule.  Self-determination was not His forte.  The Father’s business demanded discipline and perception.  It created a schedule of its own and required diligence.  It was based on a plan and the execution of that plan predetermined from the foundation of the world.

1l: 7-10: After that, Jesus said to His disciples,” Let us go into Judaea again.”  His disciples replied, “Master, the Jews tried to stone you; and you want to go there again?  Jesus answered, are there not twelve hours in day?  If any man walks in the day, he stumbles not, because he seeks the light of this world.  But if a man walks in the night he stumbles, because there is no light in him.

“The Lord said (through Isaiah) that it is not possible to walk in Him and not have the true light.  It is the absence or presence of His light which is the determining factor of judgment.  Light can only be derived from the Author of Light.  His words, “Let there be light,” still forms universes.  It is the same for the soul of man to whom He utters, “Let there be light.”

11: 11-16:  After that He said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.  The disciples replied, Lord, if he sleeps, he should recover.  However, Jesus spoke of his death; but they thought that He had spoken of Lazarus taking his rest in sleep.  Jesus then spoke to them plainly, Lazarus is dead.  I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe, nevertheless let us go to him.  Then Thomas spoke.  He is the one called Didymus, to his fellow disciples,” Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

 Death = a sleep!  How beautiful the image!  Beautifully true, and only true regarding the Christian.  Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it was not known that only a man’s body dies, and the soul of the man that has been redeemed by Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life never dies.   

Paul teaches that Jesus “brought life and immortality to light.”  2 Ti. 1:10:  But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

We say, “death was disarmed at Calvary,” but Jesus had power over death before Calvary.   So complete, indeed, is the Redeemer’s victory over this last enemy that He Himself speaks of it as no longer a reality, but a shadow---a phantom-foe from which we have nothing to dread.  Whosoever believes in Me shall never die.” (Jn. 11:26).  If a man keeps My sayings, he shall never see death.” (Jn. 8:51).

The sounds of lamentation had now been heard for four days in the household in Bethany.  The friends and relatives of the deceased had assembled to pay their tribute of respect to the memory of their revered friend. 

11: 17-26:  Then when Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had lain in the grave four days.  Bethany was near to Jerusalem, less than two miles away.  Many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother.  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him; but Mary sat still in the house.  Then Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now, whatsoever You will ask of God, God will give it to You.  Jesus said to her, “Your brother shall rise again.”  Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  Jesus said to here, I AM the resurrection and the life; he that believes in Me; though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?

Do you believe that the dealings of our God are for the strengthening of our faith, and invigorate our spiritual graces?  Do you believe that all things are for our sake, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God?

God often hides Himself from his people in order to try our faith, that He may speak comfortably unto us that we may have faith like Abraham who “against hope believed in hope” (Ro. 4:18).

Christ unfolded to Martha in a single verse the whole Gospel.  He had irradiated by a few words the darkness of the tomb, “Do you believe this?” What must she believe?  That He is the Abolisher of death and the Giver of Life.

The full grandeur of that Bethany utterance could not be appreciated by her to whom it was first spoken.  His death and resurrection were still, even to His nearest disciples, a profound mystery.  Little did that trembling spirit, who was now gazing at her living LORD with tearful eyes, dream that in a few brief days the grave was to hold HIM as its captive; and that guardian angels were to proclaim words which would now have been all enigma and strangeness, “the Lord is risen!’

11: 27-35:  She said to him, Yea, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God which should come into the world.  After she spoke, 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, Mary arose quickly, and came to Him.  Jesus had not yet come into town, but was in that place where Martha met Him.  The Jews then which were with her in the house who were comforting her, followed Mary saying, ‘She goes to the grave to weep there.’  Then when Mary came to where Jesus was, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with here, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.  He asked,” Where have you laid him?”  They said to Him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.

The Creator of all worlds is in tears!  The God-man Mediator is dissolved in tenderest grief!  Of all the memories of Bethany, this surely is the most hallowed and the most wondrous. These tears form the most touching episode in sacred story.

We know that he also weeps with us.  Ph. 56:8: …you put my tears into your bottle; are they not in your book?

In the volume of the book, it is written that His tears and our tears are bottled and in the book.  As man he wept with us.  He came to bear our grief and sorrow and to heal the broken-hearted.  Yes, he felt the anguish of grief as a man that he might bear it for us as God.   At that eventful moment, the Savior had before Him the bereaved of all time---we can consider His eye was roaming at that moment through time to the grief of all of us down to the end of the world.  All whose tears have been bottled in Heaven were included in those Bethany tears! 

11: 36-39:  Then said the Jews, “Behold how He loved him!”  Some of them said, “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have healed this man?”  Jesus again groaned in Himself comes to the grave.  It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.  Jesus said, Take away the stone.

He who has the keys of the grave and of death orders the stone to be removed. We know that angels moved the stone from Jesus’ tomb.  He could command angels to move this stone, but Jesus commands it to be removed by human hands.  He alone can bring back Lazarus from his death-sleep; but the Church of the Living God is to be a participant in His Kingdom as the vehicle and a means of His Glory.   

11:40:  Martha the sister of him that was dead, said to Him, Lord, by this time he stinks; for he has been dead four days.  Jesus said to her, Did I not say to you, that if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?

They have now reached the grave.  It is the appointed time for another of God’s divine interruptions into opening the seal of death.  John was the only gospel writer to mention the loosing of Lazarus from the grave and the events leading up to and away from that moment. 

The stone is rolled away, but there is a solemn pause just when the miracle is about to be performed.

Jesus prays!  The God-Man mediator---the Lord of Life---the Abolisher of Death---the Being of all Beings---who had the boundless treasures of eternity in His grasp---pauses by the grave of Lazarus, and lifts His eyes to His Father.  This is his Godhead and His manhood standing together in stupendous contrast.  At His birth the mystic star and the lowly manger were together; at His death, the ignominious cross and the eclipsed sun were together.  Here he weeps and prays at the very moment when He is baring the arm of Omnipotence.

The “Mighty God” appears in conjunction with “the man Christ Jesus.”  His name is Immanuel, God with us.”

Jesus lifted his eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I know that you hear me always.

That voice is still eloquent in heaven.  The Great Intercessor still is here, “walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks." 


“It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Ro. 8:34).  Against that intercession the gates of hell can never prevail, he can utter the challenge to devils, angels, and men, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”


The moment has now come for the voice of Omnipotence to give the command.  The group has gathered around the tomb. 


11:43:  Lazarus come forth! 


11:44:  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.

O most wondrous power---Death vanquished in his own territory!  The sleeper has awoken a moral Samson, snapping the bounds which the King of Terrors had bound him.  The star of Bethlehem shines, and the Valley of Achor becomes a door of hope.  The all-devouring destroyer must relinquish his prey. 

The hour of death is to the Christian the birthday of endless life.  The souls of believers do immediately pass into glory.

And Jesus said, "Come to the water, stand by My side,
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied;
I felt ev'ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,
And I'm here to remind you that for those tears I

Your goodness so great I can't understand,
but, dear Lord, I know now that all this was planned;
I know You're here now, and always will be,
Your love loosed my chains and in You I'm free;
But Jesus, why me?

And Jesus said, "Come to the water, stand by My side,
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied;
I felt ev'ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,
And I'm here to remind you that for those tears I

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church, 10115 West Hidden Lakes Lane, Richmond, TX


Scripture from K.J.V. – I entered the labors of John Ross MacDuff – Memories of Bethany; and En Punto by C. R. Oliver; A Story of Lazarus, Carolyn Sissom 10/31/15; John – Chapter 11, 5/30/17, Carolyn Sissom  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors. 

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