The Compassion of the Creator God

Posted: August 2, 2015 in John

John 11:28-44, “The Compassion of the Creator God”

It was a funeral they would never forget!  As a pastor, I’ve been to all kinds of weddings and funerals, and funerals are obviously the far less enjoyable of the two.  For those who celebrate the home-going of Christians, there is oftentimes joy in the midst of tears, and that is a good thing – but for those who mourn others who didn’t believe, there is often much sadness and despair.  And of course that difference is understandable.  As Christians, we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Ths 4:13).  Quite the contrary!  We have much hope as believers, knowing that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).  Those who believe in Christ Jesus have the absolute assurance of being in the comforting presence of God at the very moment of our death.  Death truly is a home-going, in that we go to the arms of our Creator God.

Yet many people don’t have that same assurance.  Those who die without faith in Jesus definitely do not.  And prior to Jesus’ resurrection, many people who worshipped God still didn’t have that kind of comfort.  They may have known that they belonged to God, but many things about the afterlife were a mystery.  They hoped to be in Paradise with God, but they may not have been absolutely sure of it.

In any case, they still grieved, as did Martha and Mary did with the death of their brother Lazarus.  The three of them had been great friends of Jesus, and though the sisters sent for Jesus when Lazarus became ill, by the time Jesus received the news, Lazarus had already died.  Even so, Jesus did something curious in that He purposefully delayed His journey, which suited the disciples just fine being that Jesus’ life was attacked the last time He was in Judea.  Of course Jesus was never in danger (due to the sovereignty of God), and when Jesus finally announced they were going to go to the family, the disciples reacted in fear instead of faith.

When Jesus arrived, He was first met by Martha, who said matter-of-factly that if Jesus had been present, Lazarus would still be alive.  And that was true – but she would have missed out on a miracle.  Jesus had told the disciples His plans to raise Lazarus from the grave, though He hadn’t yet said anything directly to Martha about it.  Instead, He gives Martha the opportunity to be reminded of her faith in Him, and who He is as the Author of Life.  Martha affirmed her belief, and gave one of the greatest statements of faith in the gospels (on par with that of Peter).

So now what?  Now there was still work to do.  There was another sister to see, and a miracle to perform.  Yet none of this was done stoically or casually.  Jesus ministered individually to the needs of each sister, and demonstrated His kind compassion to those who were grieving the loss of their brother.  He would go on to raise Lazarus from the dead in a grand demonstration of power, proving Himself to be the Son of God sent by God the Father.  Yet Jesus’ compassion and His power are not mutually exclusive – they are sublimely combined in Christ.  He is kind AND He is the Creator.  He loves us AND He has the power to give us new life.  THAT is our Jesus!

John 11:28–44
28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”

  1. So Martha already had her meeting with Jesus.  She was able to get some one-on-one time with Him, pouring out her heart, and affirming her faith in Jesus as the Son of God.  Now it was Mary’s turn.  Due to the crowd that had gathered, Martha went “secretly” to Mary, probably with the hope that Mary could return to Jesus alone.  That was not to be the case, but at least the intent was good.
  2. Her message to Mary says much! (1) The fact that Martha referred to Jesus as “The Teacher” is revealing in that women did not often receive formal instruction from men.  Martha is using language with Mary that would naturally belong among Jesus’ disciples…and that is exactly what they were.  The two sisters may not have been part of the 12, but they were certainly disciples of Jesus.  Jesus had no wall of separation between the sexes – male and female alike were (and are) invited to follow Him as Lord.  (2) Jesus specifically sent for Mary.  He called for her, requesting that she some to Him.  Jesus knew her individual needs, and He cared about her as a person.  Mary was not just another face in the crowd – she was known by Jesus & loved by Him.
    1. That’s no different today.  God knows you by name!  Jesus died for the entire world, but He didn’t di for some nameless nebulous group.  He died for each individual man and woman in history (and future).  He knows you, and He calls you.  Have you responded?  Will you respond?

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him.

  1. Mary didn’t waste any time.  As soon as she heard what her sister said, Mary was on her way.  She hadn’t initially gone to Jesus on the edge of town as Martha had, for whatever reason.  But now that she knew she had an opportunity to see Jesus, she wasn’t going to let it pass by. (Neither should we!)  Keep in mind that Mary was grieving & seemingly disappointed in Jesus.  She gives voice to that later in vs. 32.  Yet she didn’t let that disappointment keep her from her Lord & Teacher.  There was one place she needed to be at that moment, and it was with Jesus.
    1. Have you ever found yourself hesitant to talk to God because of disappointment or grief?  Maybe God didn’t answer your prayer in the way you wanted, and now you wonder why you even bother praying at all.  What’s the point if it doesn’t do any good?  Take note of Mary!  We might not understand why God acts the way He does, but we can know that God never stops being God.  When we experience that disappointment, that’s not the time to pull away – it’s time to draw even closer!  Those are the days that we truly need to walk by faith, and the only way to do it is to spend time with Jesus in worship, prayer, and the word.
  2. Jesus’ location is interesting.  He had come to Bethany, but He did not come all the way into town.  He stopped short of the village limits at the place Martha met Him.  After that, He didn’t proceed further.  Why not?  He could have easily gone to the house of Lazarus – He surely knew where they lived.  Even if He wanted to avoid the crowds, He could have kept walking & met Mary along the way.  Why did He stop?  Scripture never directly says, but there seems to be an implication that Jesus waited for Mary to respond.  Jesus had come the bulk of the distance (all the way from Perea) and He took the initiative to invite Mary to come to Him…now it was up to her.  He would not force Himself upon Mary – she had to be willing to respond to Him.
    1. That’s the way it works in salvation.  God always takes the initiative, but we have to respond. … …

31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”

  1. If Martha had attempted to get Mary some alone time with Jesus, those efforts were thwarted by the crowd.  According to Jewish custom, people came to the grieving family to mourn with them in an act of comfort.  Sometimes mourners were even hired, in that the more mourners a person had at the funeral, it was a social indication of the better reputation the person had.  That said, we’re not told if these were professional mourners, or just sincere well-wishers.  What we do know is that they followed Mary out the door.  They had come to grieve with her, and if she was headed to the tomb, that’s where they needed to be too.  They didn’t know they would be seeing Jesus, and they were about to witness one of the greatest miracles recorded in the Scripture!

32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

  1. Notice this is exactly the same sentiment expressed by Martha.  There is a slight difference in word order in the Greek, but the meaning/translation is the same.  The two sisters seemed to have this as a subject of conversation while they were waiting for Jesus, and it was only natural that each of them would express it to Him upon seeing Him.  As with Martha, this need not be viewed as a complaint (though we cannot hear their tone of voice to be sure).  Rather, it’s a statement of fact.  Jesus would not have been able to arrive in Bethany prior to Lazarus’ death by the time the messengers originally came to Him (at least, not apart from supernatural means), so this isn’t a reference to Jesus’ purposeful delay.  It was simply the truth.  If Jesus had been there, Lazarus would still be alive.  Their brother would have been healed of his sickness, and they would be rejoicing instead of weeping.
  2. That may have been the simple fact, but it didn’t make her reality any easier.  She still felt disappointment and grief.  Her emotions came pouring out as she “fell down” at Jesus’ feet.  She was sound in her relationship with Jesus, she willingly came to Jesus, and she had total faith in what Jesus could do…but none of that stopped her tears at the moment.
    1. Sometimes we get the idea that if we’re truly spiritual, then we will never have a bad day.  We’ll always be able to brush off trials & problems with a shrug and a statement of faith.  After all, we’ve got the joy of the Lord & nothing can get us down!  Can we be done with that?  Can we acknowledge it as the pious hypocrisy that it is?  The original concept behind a “hypocrite” was to wear a mask for a Greek play.  That’s what all of that false piety is: play acting.  We present to be happy because that’s what “good” Christians are supposed to do.  Stop it!  Sometimes life hurts.  Sometimes we’re confused.  Sometimes we grieve.  And guess what?  God knows all about it.  God knows when we’re hurting, and when we lie & pretend that we’re not.  God knows when we put on the mask of our “church face.”  So let’s stop.  Let’s be real – especially in our prayer time with God.  If there is any person with whom we never need to fear to be ourselves, it’s with our Heavenly Father.  He loves us, and He will not condemn us for honestly pouring out our emotions to Him.  That’s what Mary did, and that’s what we can do as well.

33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.

  1. The definition of the English word “compassion” is that of a feeling of deep sympathy or even sorrow.  It is formed with the prefix “com” (with, together) and put with “passion” (powerful emotion).  Truly our Lord Jesus is compassionate!  He sees the mourning of Mary & of the other Jews, and He Himself is moved with emotion.  In classic theology, God is sometimes described as “impassible,” meaning “without passions,” but we need to be careful not to get the wrong idea.  The testimony of the Scriptures clearly demonstrates the emotions of our God.  The better idea is that God is “impassible” in that He is not enslaved to His passions as we so often are.  God is not subject to mood swings.  Everything He does is with purpose.  God most definitely has emotions, and this is what is on display with Jesus.  Although certain of the Greeks valued stoicism (a lack of emotions), our God does not.  God values emotions so much that He shared in them with the people around Him.
  2. We can easily imagine the first part of what happened.  Mary came to Jesus, crumbled at His feet, and said what she could get out before she was overcome with sobbing.  The people with her joined in her grief & likely began to wail (which was considered appropriate by their culture).  The whole mass of people in front of Jesus are vehemently sobbing, and our Lord is emotionally responsive.
  3. What we might not easily grasp is how Jesus responded.  He didn’t join in with their wailing, but He “groaned in the spirit and was troubled.”  Other translations say “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”  The word used for “groaning/deeply moved” is interesting in that it generally speaks of anger, referring to the snorting of a horse.  One Bible translation goes so far as to say Jesus was angry (HCSB).  We can understand sorrow & sympathy – but anger?  Why anger?  Some scholars have jumped on this to show Jesus’ displeasure with the crowd, thinking them to be insincere.  Yet there’s nothing else in the text that indicates that these were contracted, hired mourners.  So there must be a different explanation.  Look again at the context: Jesus had come to a funeral & all kinds of people are broken in sorrow.  Jesus is God…why wouldn’t the Author of Life get upset at that?  We tend to forget that the Bible treats death as an enemy.  It’s a reality to be sure, and God offers much comfort to those who grieve – but death is ultimately an enemy for all humanity.  It entered the world the day Adam ate of the tree, and it was been the wage of sin ever since.  Thankfully, this enemy is defeated in the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:55), and death itself will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the age (Rev 20:14).  That is glorious good news!  But at the moment, Jesus was staring square into the eye of death, seeing how it affected those whom He loved.  So yes, Jesus was deeply upset and troubled – perhaps even angry.

34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.

  1. Jesus asked to be led to the tomb, and once He arrived, we read the shortest verse to be found in our English Bibles: “Jesus wept.”  Please do not confuse this weeping for the weeping that took place earlier with Mary & the Jews.  Although our English translations use the same word, the Greek does not.  For Mary & the Jews, it was κλαιω, which can refer to weeping, but usually denotes wailing, sobbing, deep crying, etc.  For Jesus, it is δακρύω – and it is the only time this word is used in the NT.  This also speaks of crying, but it is far more quiet and restrained.  The grammar that is used implies that Jesus perhaps burst into tears, but even that is restrained.  The basic idea is that His tears came at once, but it was far quieter than those around Him.
    1. The point?  Jesus is sincere.  Although we cannot say with certainty about the motives of the crowd, there is no doubt about the motives of Jesus.  His emotions were real, heartfelt, and He wept.
  2. Some have wondered why Jesus wept, particularly since He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead in the next few minutes.  It’s not as if Jesus was mourning Lazarus’ death, thinking that He’d never see His friend again.  Besides, Jesus knew better than anyone where Lazarus’ soul was at that very moment, so Jesus had every reason to be comforted.  Some have suggested that Jesus wept at the lack of faith of those around Him, or at the prospect that He Himself would soon be facing the grave.  Personally, I think these explanations fall short & attribute motive to Jesus that are never implied in the text.  Perhaps the simplest explanation is best: Jesus wept because others wept.  Jesus is kind and compassionate.  Jesus joined in the grief of His friends.  The Bible plainly tells us to weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15), and Jesus set the example.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” 37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

  1. There are two reactions among the people to Jesus’ tears.  First, the people witnessed His sincerity.  They could see His honest love for His friend & they knew this wasn’t a pretend show/put-on. (And Jesus did love him, just like He loves you & me!)  Second, some of the people questioned His ability.  They remembered the miracle of Jesus giving sight to the man born blind.  That itself demonstrated the power of the Creator God.  Where was this power now?  Surely the Jesus of the past could have healed Lazarus.  Had Jesus lost His ability?  Was His power limited in some way?  They were about to find out!
  2. It almost sounds silly to us for people to question the abilities of Jesus when He was in the middle of His earthly ministry, but don’t we so often do the same thing today?  Our God has not changed – Jesus has not lost His power.  If anything, Jesus has more authority & power today than He did prior to the cross & resurrection (Mt 28:18).  So why don’t we pray like we believe He has that power?  Pray with faith, trusting God’s sovereignty.

38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

  1. Jesus again has that deep upsetting, almost angry emotion as He comes to the tomb.  Perhaps the sight of the grave was a stark reminder of the enemy, and Jesus was preparing for battle.  Whatever the reason for His emotion, He tells the people to get ready & commands them to remove the stone from the tomb.
  2. To picture it, we need to get rid of the mental images we might have of typical western graveyards.  That’s not what Jesus faced at all.  For ancient Jews, dead bodies were packed with spices, tightly wrapped, and placed in above-ground tombs – oftentimes, caves.  Giant stones would be rolled in front as protection from animals & stench while the flesh decomposed.  When enough time passed that only bones remained, the bones would be gathered & placed in a box called an “ossuary” and the tomb could be used again.  That’s what Jesus faced when He commanded the stone to be removed, and that was the reason for Martha’s objection in vs. 39.
  3. The KJV puts her objection so vividly: “by this time he stinketh.”  Martha’s objection was logical.  Her brother had been dead 4 days, and it’s not as if he was on ice in a morgue.  Israel is not the frozen tundra where bodies might be better preserved.  His corpse had already begun to putrefy…that was the very reason the stone was there! 
  4. So what happened?  Did Martha lose her faith from verse 27?  No.  She believed, but she didn’t know what to expect.  She knew that the resurrection of the saints was found in Jesus, and that all life is found in Jesus.  She knew and believed that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, which meant that Jesus could do anything.  However, she didn’t know what Jesus was about to do at the moment.  Even if she had a glimmer of hope that her brother might be raised from the dead, it would have been fleeting.  That’s the kind of thought you don’t allow yourself to entertain because it’s too good to be true.  But it was.
    1. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation?  You believe Jesus to be God & in your mind you know that there is truly nothing impossible for Him.  But it’s tough to actually apply that to impossible situations.  It’s not that you don’t have any faith; you just don’t have enough faith when it counts.  Beloved, we need to remember that we worship the God who does the impossible.  In fact, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you’ve already personally experienced the impossible!  How so?  Your sins were forgiven and you’ve become a new creation & a child of God.  If God can do that, there what are a few other minor matters in our lives?  It’s far harder to grant eternal life than bring someone back from the dead – yet that is exactly what Jesus has done.
    2. Obviously we don’t often see the kinds of miracles & healings today that Jesus did then.  But that (1) doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for Jesus, and (2) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take these things to Jesus in prayer.  By all means, pray…and then let God be God.  You might just witness the impossible become possible.

40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

  1. Don’t think for a moment that Jesus chastises Martha.  He isn’t scolding her for her very logical statement – but He is giving her an opportunity to overcome her stumbling block.  He’s giving her the opportunity to believe.  Martha needed faith.  It’s not that Jesus’ power depended on it – He could raise the dead with or without anyone around.  But if Martha was to witness Jesus’ power, then she needed to believe.  Lazarus would have experienced Jesus’ power no matter what, but Martha needed faith if she was going to experience it.
    1. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: God is God & we’re not.  So often people get the idea that their faith is the key to making God work. They think, “If I just believe, I can be healed… If I can just visualize it, it will come… If I just want it bad enough, I can get it…”  The problem with all of that is that it makes a god out of faith instead of putting our faith in God.  It’s not a matter of simply believing, but in Whom we believe.  God gives us the opportunity to believe in Him, to trust Him, and to have faith that whatever He does, it will be good.  So believe!
    2. Notice this was an opportunity for Martha.  Faith is a gift, but it’s not forced upon us.  Jesus gave Martha an opportunity to believe, just as He gives us opportunities to believe.  How will we respond?
  2. Did you notice that Jesus never directly says what He is about to do with Lazarus?  He never says, “If you believe, you will see Me raise your brother from the grave.”  Instead, He tells her that if she believed, she “would see the glory of God.”  THAT is the point of miracles.  Any miracle at any time is about the glory of God.  It’s not about an evangelist – it’s not about raising money – it’s not about individual people reveling in some emotion – it’s about the glory of God.  If it isn’t, then it didn’t come from God.

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”

  1. We’re never told Martha’s reaction, but obviously she agreed to have the stone removed because that’s what they did.  Whether or not a stench came out, we don’t know.  The apostle John’s attention goes straight to Jesus as He begins to pray.  What’s so interesting about His prayer is that it sounds like the details have already been worked out & that Jesus & the Father are simply wrapping up.  There’s no request for any miracle…there’s no request for any actions whatsoever.  There is simply thanks.  Jesus thanks the Father for hearing His prayer, just like God always heard His prayers. (Which tells us that Jesus prayed often.  So should we!) 
  2. The only other thing Jesus says is His reason for praying this particular time: as a public witness.  Jesus wanted to pray to His Father so that everyone else would know that His Father heard Him & sent Him.  Normally, we don’t pray for the benefit of others listening.  We might pray for others, as in intercession & other prayer requests, but we don’t typically pray for the primary reason of other people hearing us.  We are aware of other people when we pray publicly, but our ultimate audience is God.  Using prayer time to preach at others is normally inappropriate.  However, Jesus specifically said that this prayer would be a public testimony.  He wanted people to know that everything He did was in the name of the Father, blessed by the Father, and endorsed by the Father.  Jesus wasn’t appealing to any magic or demon in order to perform the miracle – everything He did was to & for God the Father.  This was a public sign to give glory to God, as a testimony to the Son.
    1. BTW – Jesus still prays, and God still hears Him.  And praise God, because He’s praying for us!

43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”

  1. Here’s the main event!  Using only His words & prefaced only with a short prayer, Jesus calls Lazarus forth from the grave.  Jesus hadn’t even personally touched the stone to remove it, nor did He peek inside.  There was no trickery, no lights, no smoke & mirrors – just the command of the Son of God.  And that was more than enough!  The same God who spoke the world into existence spoke life into Lazarus, and even that was the briefest of commands.  Some have suggested that this could be paraphrased, “Lazarus – out here!”  There’s no verb at all – just a couple of adverbs of location, as if Lazarus was already awakened by the will of Jesus & just needed to know which way to walk due to being blindfolded.
  2. There is power in the word of God!  There is power in the will of God!  Jesus wanted Lazarus to walk, and he walked.  It’s as simple as that.  The ancient church father Augustine rightly observed that it was a good thing that Jesus specifically called Lazarus by name, because otherwise ALL of the dead might have risen up at that very moment!  Such is the power of the word of God!
  3. What Jesus did physically with Lazarus is the same miracle that He does spiritually with everyone who believes in Him.  Remember what He told Martha back in vs. 25-26: John 11:25–26, “(25) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. (26) And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?””  Lazarus had died, and he was given life by Jesus – by Jesus’ will & word.  We are already dead spiritually speaking, and we are also given life by the word and will of our Lord Jesus.  Those who believe in Him are commanded to come out of the grave of spiritual death & given a new birth & new life in His name!  Before, we were dead to the things of God, but now we are alive.  Before, we were enslaved to sin, but now we are free.  Before, we were doomed with the prospect of eternal death and separation from God, but now we are blessed with the promise and gift of eternal life.  How did it all come?  By the will and word of Jesus!  There is power in His word!  (Do you believe?  Lazarus surely did!)

44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

  1. Lazarus came out, probably shuffling along in baby steps, considering how he was bound up in the graveclothes.  But he came out, and he was whole!  Amazing!  He had been dead 4 days – beyond a coma, beyond hope.  His body was already rotting away…but in an instant, everything changed!  He was completely restored as if he hadn’t even been sick in the first place.
    1. This is much like how the rapture and resurrection will be, only without the problem of any binding.  Those who had faith in Christ and previously died will have their bodies entirely restored.  In fact, all who are raised in Christ will have restored, renewed bodies – completely transformed by the power of God.  It will be raised incorruptible, never to die, perish, and decompose again.
    2. For Lazarus, that was something still in the future.  The body with which he was raised was the same body in which he had died (only restored & no longer sick).  Lazarus was not permanently resurrected, though he was definitely raised up from the dead.  Only Jesus has died and been permanently raised, which is why Paul can write that Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:20).  Everyone else who died and was risen have died again (which is kind of a bummer!).  But…now that Jesus HAS raised up from the dead, it is ultimately His resurrection that we look forward to receiving as well.  What took place with Lazarus was a preview (of both Jesus and us), but it was still incomplete.  What took place with Jesus is the real thing!
  2. That Lazarus came out still-bound is not itself unusual, for that is how he was placed in the tomb.  But it definitely gives us an interesting picture.  Jesus gave the man life, but there were still restraints that needed to be removed.  He was alive on the inside, but he was covered on the outside with the clothing of death.  Isn’t that how it is with us?  We come to faith in Christ, and we’re alive!  We’re new creations, and we give glory to God!  We rejoice after we pray that prayer of salvation…and then we still have to face the rest of the world.  We still have the reality of sin all around us.  We might even have bad habits that need to change, and some of the stuff we face takes real work.  The inside has changed, but the outside still needs to be addressed.  We need to remove the graveclothes.
    1. This is one reason it’s so important to be around other Christians in a local church!  Lazarus was himself bound up hand & foot, and he needed help getting the graveclothes off.  Likewise, we need help.  Jesus has made us new creations, but He has also given us the gift of the Church to help us live as those new creations.  He puts people around us to help us in the areas in which we’re weak and vice-versa.  Where someone is able to help you remove your graveclothes, you’re able to help someone else.  We need one another within the body of Christ, and there’s a reason it feels so discomforting when we’re not plugged into a church.  God intended us to be around others, so that we could minister to one another & help one another walk in the freedom that He makes available to us.
    2. The other problem with graveclothes is that some Christians get used to them.  Instead of walking in freedom, they’re walking as if they’re still bound.  They believe in Jesus on the inside, but on the outside they look & smell like death.  They still walk in old habits, still engage in old behaviors, and do many of the things that confirmed their death in the first place.  That makes sense for a corpse, but not a Christian.  If we’ve been given life, we ought to walk as if we’re alive!  The graveclothes are not the norm; life in Jesus is our new normal.  Live free!  Live new!  Live unbound by the sin that took you to the grave, and live as Jesus desires for you to live!

Earlier, the people wondered if Jesus had the ability to keep Lazarus from dying.  Their question was answered in spades!  Jesus already demonstrated the power to heal, but now He demonstrated something far greater: power to raise the dead!  The compassionate Christ had the power of the Creator God, for that is exactly who He is. 

The crowd witnessed it, the sisters had faith in it, and Lazarus personally experienced it.  The power of Jesus is an amazing thing, as He gives life to the dead & displays the glory of God.  And on top of it all, this glorious God is not some far-removed, remote, emotionless Being – He is kind, compassionate, and approachable in His grace.  We can be honest with Him in our emotions, and we can know that He actually shares in those emotions with us.  We get angry at sin, so does God.  We have grief over death, and Jesus weeps.  We have a Savior who walks with us in our times of trials, and we have no reason to ever put on pretense with Him.  He knows how we feel anyway, so we might as well be honest about it.

What kind of God is this?  What religion even comes close?  Our God is both all-powerful and all-compassionate.  There is nothing like Jesus in any religion of the world or any philosophy of man, and better yet, Jesus has actually proven Himself to be true!  The greatest resurrection in the Bible is not that of Lazarus, but that of Jesus.  Jesus did raise Lazarus from the dead in demonstration of His power as God, but that was only a preview of when Jesus would raise Himself from the dead demonstrating He IS God.  We can have the utmost confidence that when we put our faith in the compassionate Christ, that we are putting our faith in the truth.

So what’s stopping you?  For some, you’ve heard the gospel invitation over & over.  You’ve been in churches, and been repeatedly invited to turn away from your sins & put your faith in Christ.  Why haven’t you?  What more could Jesus offer?  He graciously invites you to come, and He demonstrates His kindness & compassion – He won’t turn you away.  Without Him, you’re already dead – dead in sins & trespasses, just waiting the day your heartbeat catches up with your spirit.  When it stops, you’re done, and you will face God with a sentence of eternal death.  But WITH Jesus, you can live!  You can be forgiven, and have the promise of new & eternal life, given to you by the Creator God.

For others of us, we believe, but there are days it’s difficult to tell.  Sometimes we know the facts of our faith, but we have a tough time applying them.  Sometimes we’re not sure how honest we can really be with our God.  Sometimes we find ourselves walking around in our old graveclothes.  Have faith.  Remember Who it is that called you & gave you life.  Trust Him by entrusting yourself to Him.  You won’t be disappointed.


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