Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jesus Resurrected Lazarus (part 3) (Jn. 11:11-46)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 16 October 2011 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 11:44-53

Jesus calmed the sea, showing Himself to be the Lord of nature. He raised the dead, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walked, showing Himself to be the Lord of life. So His disciples believed Him to be the Son of God.

The biggest miracle happened in John 11 where He resurrected Lazarus who had been in the tomb for 4 days. After this, there were bipolar reactions. One side believed in Him and the other side determined to kill Him. His destiny has been set. Many people put their faith in Him but many wanted Him dead. They wanted to kill Lazarus too. Why did they react that way? On what basis did they oppose Him after such a miracle accomplisment?

From John 2 onwards there had been two reactions against Him, those who believed and those who opposed Him. However, even to those who believed, the Bible said Jesus did not give Himself over to men for He knew the hearts of all men (Jn 2). Again in John 3, when Nicodemus came to Him and said nobody could accomplish the miracles He did if he were not from God, far from being flattered Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, if you are not born again you cannot see the kingdom of God.” Self-righteous intellectuals will find it hard to humble themselves to learn the truth.

John 5-11 record many debates which are not recorded in the synoptic gospels. Jesus received stern response from the Jews. He was called demon-possessed, an illegitimate child, looked down upon as a Galilean where no prophet had ever come from. Judging Jesus from these human angles they never understood who Jesus is. Our Lord is patient and continued to discourse with the Jews. He challenged if any of them could convince Him of sin and nobody could. Finally in John 11, He performed the greatest miracle by raising Lazarus, and from then on they were determined to kill him.

Jesus healed a paralytic on Sabbath day in John 5. He healed a blind man on Sabbath in John 9. Far from breaking the Sabbath, Jesus brought people into true Sabbath. The greatest rest had occurred for these people who were never able to enjoy true Sabbath in the past. The Jews who plotted to kill Jesus were the ones who truly broke the Sabbath. Jesus said they saw the speck into their brother’s eye but could not see the plank in their own eye.

According to the Jews who opposed Him, Jesus broke the law by breaking Sabbath. As a result, they wanted to murder him. But paradoxically, their intent to murder was breaking the law too. They killed Jesus not because Jesus broke the law but because He was a threat to their culture.

After resurrecting Lazarus, many believed in Jesus. Since the creation of mankind nobody has done this so He must surely be the Son of God. But is this true faith? In the eyes of God this is not sufficient. Jesus said, “if you do not witness miracles you cannot believe.” This is not true faith. So although they believe, Jesus did not give Himself to them. In John 8, Jesus said to the Jews that their father is not Abraham but the devil. Jesus said this to the Jews who believed in Him too, not only those who opposed Him.

We ought to examine ourselves. One day when we come before the Lord, would we hear Him say, “depart from me I never knew you”?

Apostle Paul said we are to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. If you think you belong to Christ, you need to search yourselves and think how you belong to Christ. If you only believe because you see miracle, there is no much value in such faith. We do not belong to Christ unless we have the spirit of Christ. Jesus said not all who called Him Lord would enter the Kingdom of God but those who do the will of His Father in heaven. This is not about salvation by works, but it implies that true faith results in obedience.

The Jews went to the Pharisees as they were concerned to see more and more people following Jesus. When the servant of God is not thinking about the glory of God but their own glory the church is headed for destruction. Many pastors are using the church as a means to make money. Who is willing to suffer for the Lord?

Caiaphas, the high priest of the year, said that it is better for one man to die for the people than the whole nation perish (Jn. 11:49-50). Caiaphas did not believe in Jesus and was speaking in nationalistic spirit to preserve Israel so they plotted to kill Jesus. But what he said indirectly prophesied Jesus’ death, which was God’s purpose so that His people might be saved from sin. Prior to His birth, it was already prophesied that Jesus would save His people from sin. John saw that Jesus would die not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles.

The Jews wanted to kill him however because it is against the their law to kill, they get the Romans to kill him. This is the greatest political plot in history. Religion made use of politics to carry out the greatest injustice. It was religious leaders who killed Jesus, not the politicians, as Pilate himself acknowledged that he could not find any fault in Jesus and he washed his hands from that guilt. The Lord was calm under the judgement of the Jews. He would one day come back and be our Judge.


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