(In loving memory of my dear brother who passed away unexpectedly October 1, 2020)
John 11:14: “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” One day, the news that a loved one is dead will come to us all. Will we have any hope?
In John 11, we read that Jesus went to Bethany that Mary and Martha might have hope because he loved them. John 11:5: “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus;” as he loves us all: John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“Light has come into the world” (John 3:19). He brought light into the darkness. He was physically on earth and could not be everywhere at the same time. In John 13, Jesus tells His disciples of his betrayal. In John 14, he lets them know that He is going away to prepare a place for them. In John 15:16, He tells them that He will not leave them alone, but that He will send a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to abide with them forever. Now, He is with every believer even here on earth; the light is with every believer. But here, in John 11, He brings the light, Himself, to Mary and Martha to give them hope.
- John 11:8-10: “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.”
- 1 John 1:5: “[Jesus who is] God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
- In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not” (John 1:4-5). Jesus was “… the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).
- John 11:11-14 “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”
- John 11:15 “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.”
After receiving the news that Lazarus was sick, that was no news to the Lord, Jesus tarried two days waiting for Lazurus to die (v 6). This was all for the glory of God (vs 4, 40).
If you want to know how Jesus feels about the death of our loved ones, look at verse 33: “Jesus wept.” Death is a frightful thing, actually. We can be sure of one thing, though. Jesus enters into sympathy with us. His sympathy is for the living, not for the dead.
Mary knew that Lazarus would rise again at the resurrection (v 24). She grieved because Lazarus had died and was no longer on this earth. John 11:31-33: “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 goeth 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 thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”
When one dies, This is how Jesus feels at his or her funeral:
- “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (v33).
- “Jesus wept” (v 35). When one’s loved one dies, Jesus weeps. He joins you in shedding tears, but not for the loved one that is in Christ, not for the one who is going to be with Christ, but for those who remain.
Of course, the Jews missed it (verse 36).
We know that Jesus sympathy was with the living, that Lazarus would rise again, and that Martha knew that Lazarus would rise again at the resurrection. We read in verses 23-26:
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
Here, Jesus is speaking of the eternal. Praise the Lord for those family and friends who, like Mary, are believers. John 11:27: “She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”
Finally, let me say that you cannot cover up death by embalming and prettying up the dead body. It is the body that dies, not the soul. The soul of the person in Christ will be with the Lord. The greatest benefit is eternal life. This life is nothing compared to eternity. The big question in any religion and in this life is, “Can Christ raise the dead?” This life is a great mystery and this life is meaningless if there is no resurrection of the dead.
Modernism wants the practical, not the doctrinal. Modernism does not realize that the most practical thing of all is eternal, not temporal life. The modernist promises so much here, but nothing eternal.
If one is flying high today, one day he is going to land. He better learn how to land.
This account of Lazarus is written, as is the book of John, that we may believe:
John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”