Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jesus Resurrected Lazarus (part 1) (Jn. 11:1-11)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 2 October 2011 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 11:1-11

John 11 demonstrates the greatest miracle Jesus had performed, resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. In the Old Testament, Elijah resurrected one person. Elisha resurrected two persons. Elijah did 7 miracles. Elisha did 14 miracles. God answered Elisha’s great prayer in giving him a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. More than Elijah and Elisha, Jesus resurrected 3 persons.

The power of Jesus surpassed that of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah and Elisha would first call upon the Lord. But Jesus simply commanded the dead to come to life because He is God. The Father gives life and so the Son also gives life. The Father can resurrect the dead and the Son has the same power.

The first person Jesus resurrected from the dead is Jairus’ daughter, the second is a young man, the son of a widow about to be buried. Death came about because of sin. If you disobey the law you will die. Jesus’ power transcended the law and could raise the dead.

The third resurrection miracle performed by Jesus is in John 11. This incident is not found in 3 other synoptic gospels. This is most unique incident. The Scripture said Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Some day someone brought the news that “the one You love is sick”. Instead of saying Lazarus is sick, the person said “the one you love” is sick. This tells that they had a close relationship. Naturally if you were to hear this, you would immediately go to see the person you love, to comfort and serve him. But strangely, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but unto the glory of God.” Christ often sees the glory of God through the presence of sufferings. This is lacking in many Christians’ lives. So the sickness has a purpose, God will be glorified. The Son of God will be glorified. Jesus had no anxiety. How can you look at sickness as an opportunity to glorify God? When Jesus saw the man born blind, he said neither he nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that God might be glorified.

When Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days (Jn. 11:5-6). This seems very uncaring. But God has His own timing and we cannot impose our timing upon Him. He is our sovereign Lord. When His time has not come, when it is not yet the time for His grace to be displayed, we must wait, submit patiently and obey.

Jesus finally said to go to Judea (v.7). However that is a very dangerous place where many Jews wanted to stone him. Jesus said, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” (v.9-10)

When God allows the sun to shine upon us, we should not be afraid of the coming darkness. When you are in the light, walk in the light. This is a very important statement. In 12 hours of day light, you see the light of the world and when you walk you will not stumble. Jesus is the Light of the world. If we walk with Him we will not stumble. But what has this got to do with Lazarus?

John speaks a lot about light, a theme not expounded in the synoptic gospels. The gospel of John was written 20 years after the death of Peter. Could it be because the time has changed? Peter and Paul died around AD 68. Peter was crucified upside down and Paul was beheaded. Romans crucified the Gentile but wouldn’t punish the Roman citizen (Paul) in the same way. In AD 90 the church was in a mess. All the leaders were gone. Paul and Peter had died. The church was facing great persecution. How can it continue in its great faith?

Influenced by Gnostism, many false gospels appeared. The enemies of the church falsified the gospels. John was the only apostle left. He was the most important witness left who was a disciple of Jesus, who walked with Jesus and witnessed all His works. The entire Christianity would collapse in that 30 years without him. Jesus had long prepared him for this day. He was the youngest disciple. When he was young, he was impulsive. He was fervent for God. Jesus picked him and especially loved him. He referred to himself as the one whom Jesus loved. Jesus placed him in the inner circles of his disciples, Peter, James and John.

Christianity faced great challenges in AD 90. When John was about to be persecuted, he was alone. He was about to be burned alive, but in the end he was exiled to the island of Patmos, all alone. In that island, on a Sunday, heavens opened and God revealed the book of Revelation to him. Without him we do not know how the world would end.

He wrote about Christ coming in the flesh, but not the Christmas story. He did not write about Jesus’ birth. This is an unusual gospel. He has great memory and write the teaching of Jesus. In the matter of Lazarus, he recorded the greatest miracle, something absent from other gospels.


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