How He Loves Us
Topic: Love of God Passage: John 11:17–11:27
How He Loves - John 11:17-27
Introduction: We continue to look at the story of the resurrection of Lazarus. Karl commented, Dean tee-ed it up last week, so John can whack it this Sunday. But sadly, at the end of this sermon, Lazarus will still be dead. So I think, Dean handed me the ball, I’ll be tee-ing it up today, and Don Stenberg, who’s preaching next week, can whack it next week.
Introduction 2: Have you ever been angry at God? Have you ever felt like God had wronged you?
1. Messenger – Jesus said, “This illness will not lead to death.”
3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
• Jesus hears and responds that the illness will not end in death. Presumably, the messenger takes that message back to Mary and Martha.
2. Love: Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
• Jesus loved them + He knew Lazarus is stick = He waited
3. He waited.
• We’d assume that if he really loved Lazarus, he’d go and heal him.
4. Lazarus died - Consider How Mary & Martha are Feeling
• Jesus gives them hope that Lazarus will live.
• Instead, they watch their brother’s health slowly deteriorate and they watch him die.
• They struggle with the question, “Did Jesus lie to us?” He said that this would not lead to death and now my brother is dead.
• Jesus is supposed to be our friend. Why didn’t he come? Why did he wait so long?
• ILL: Consider if your best friend in the whole world is dying (picture that person). You call a doctor who is a family friend and who has the medicine to cure your friend. Instead of coming, the doctor goes out and plays golf. While he’s teeing up at hole 8, your friend dies. How would you feel? Imagine the loss. The betrayal. I imagine if that doctor finally showed up, I would want to run out and greet him.
20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.
• Martha comes out, but Mary stays inside.
• Mary, the one that only wanted to sit at Jesus feet…can’t bring herself to get up out of the chair and greet Jesus.
• Thing that I find amazing: Is not that Mary doesn’t come out. What I find amazing is that Martha does come out.
• This is a house of morning. Of great sorrow. Depression. Fear of the future. How would they survive without Lazarus? How would they survive emotionally? How would they survive financially? How do they deal with all the doubts that are creeping into their minds now about Jesus?
• He was our dear friend. He said he loved us. And yet, he put us through this. He could have saved our brother, but he chose not to. One question plagues them over and over and over…WHY?
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.
• Similar to how Jesus was in the tomb 3 days before the resurrection.
• If you want a bonafied resurrection, you need a verifiably dead person.
o Witnesses who see the death
o 3-4 days in the tomb
o No food and water
o Perhaps little oxygen
o He’s really dead. So dead that later in verse ___, Mary says, “It’s been 4 days. By now I’m sure his body stinks.” Meaning, it’s starting to decay. Lazarus is really dead!
18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.
• Map of Israel: According to the end of John 10, Jesus is up north where John the Baptist ministered when the messenger comes to him. After waiting a couple days, he travels south-west to Bethany, which is just a couple miles away from Jerusalem.
• This is what Jesus comes to when he arrives in Bethany at the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Mary and Martha are completely tore up. They’ve been crying until they can cry no more. People around town are really concerned and they’re coming trying to comfort them.
• I imagine they are completely exhausted. They’re mascara is dripping down their faces. They feel terrible. They look terrible. They may just want time to themselves. But then again, they don’t really want to be alone. Nothing seems right. Everything seems wrong.
20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.
• Mary just can’t face Jesus. After what he did, she doesn’t know what to say to him.
• Martha, on the other hand, has to know why. Her head is filled with dissonance. She loves Jesus. She trusts Jesus. But Jesus let her down. Jesus let her brother die. So she confronts Jesus with the issue that is on everyone’s mind.
21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
• Do you know what you put us through Jesus?
• You could have healed him. We never doubted that for a moment. That’s why we sent to you.
• Mary says the same thing in verse 32: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
• The people who came to comfort Mary and Martha said the same thing in verse 37, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
• John MacArthur argues that he sees collusion here. It sounds like people have been talking. That’s why they all sound the same. Perhaps it was these “comforters” that first verbalized this accusation against Jesus. Perhaps they were the ones that put doubt in Mary and Martha’s mind…saying, “If Jesus were here, he could have healed Lazarus”…perhaps even implying, if Jesus really cared, he would have come earlier.
• Here, Martha expresses her doubt and struggle, and in the next breath she reaffirms her faith.
She says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
• Martha understood that Jesus had a special relationship with God.
• Jesus gets what Jesus wants. If Jesus asks anything of God, he gets it.
• Not so for Mary and Martha. They begged God to spare their brother’s life, but God took him anyway.
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
• I think Martha is playing it safe here. She doesn’t want to misunderstand Jesus and get her hopes up again only to have them dashed.
• She believes in life after death, and she affirms that. She knows there will be a final day when God will raise the dead.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
• Who will raise the dead on the final day?
• You’re looking at him, Martha!
Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
• Yes, there will be a final day, and at the zenith of history, I will be at center stage.
• I imagine Martha’s mind goes into a whirl as she thinks back through her life. She thinks back through the scriptures. The creation. The fall. The covenants to Abraham, Noah and David, the prophets, John the Baptist… Everything has been leading up to this point. Everything has been leading up to Jesus!
26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
• Jesus changed the subject. Lazarus is not the most important thing here.
• The most loving thing that Jesus can do for Martha is not to give her her brother back. The most loving thing that Jesus can do for Martha is to give her himself!
• And Martha needed to know that!
• Jesus loved Martha. Lazarus was dying. And Jesus let him die because Jesus loved Martha. Jesus wanted to give Martha something far more important than Lazarus. He wanted to give her life! His life! His self. He wanted to reveal himself to Martha in a deeper way than he ever had. The most loving thing that Jesus could do for Martha is to give her Jesus. The most loving thing that he can do for you is to give him yourself.
o Jesus loved Martha so he waited.
ï‚§ Jesus, if you wanted to, you could have healed Lazarus. Yes, that’s true, but I love you more than that.
o Jesus loves you so he gave you a difficult marriage.
o Jesus loves you so he gave you physical pain and suffering.
o Consider the challenge you’re facing right now. The suffering. The loss. The challenging circumstances. Jesus loves you so he put those challenging circumstances in your life.
o If Jesus wanted to, he could
ï‚§ Pay your mortgage
ï‚§ Heal your back pain
ï‚§ Make your marriage easy
ï‚§ Make all your problems go away in an instant
o But great aim of the love of Jesus is not to make all your problems go away.
ï‚§ For God so loved the world, that he ended all wars.
ï‚§ For God so loved the world, that he gave us the cure to cancer.
ï‚§ For God so loved the world, that ended world hunger.
ï‚§ For God so loved the world, that he paid off everyone’s credit card debt.
ï‚§ For God so loved the world, that he gave us HIS SON!
John Piper: So this whole Gospel is built around revelations of the glory of God in Jesus. And what we saw last week is this new emphasis that this is the way Jesus loves us. He does not mainly love us in this life by sparing us suffering and death. He mainly loves us by showing us and giving us himself and his glory. God loves us mainly by giving us himself and all that he is for us in Jesus. Jesus loves us mainly by giving us himself and all that God is for us in him.
Don’t measure the love of God for you by how much health and wealth and comfort he brings into your life. If that were the measure of God’s love, then he hated the apostle Paul. Measure God’s love for you by how much of himself he shows you. How much of himself he gives you to know and enjoy.
• John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
• In John 14:21, Jesus says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
• Jesus is not the local trickster that makes a few sick people well. Jesus is the one who gives life. Jesus is the end all be all.
26 Do you believe this?”
• Jesus sticks it to her.
• Where are you with me? What do you believe about me?
• Martha’s mind is whirling until this point, and then everything comes into focus. She realizes that Lazarus sickness and his death is almost inconsequential in comparison with what’s going on right now. All of her other thoughts fade into the background and one person become central.
• She gets it, and she says: YES!
27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
• Martha makes the great profession of faith.
• Very similar to Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus asks the discisples, “Who do men say that I am?” They respond, “Some say John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
13 “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
• Jesus sticks it to Peter just like he does with Martha. “Ok. That’s what others say. But what do you say?” Where do you stand?
• Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
• Have you professed your faith? Have you done it recently?
• Yes, you may know what other people say about Jesus. You may know what the Bible says about Jesus. But can I stick it to you today? What do you believe about Jesus?
o Who do you say that Jesus is?
o What do you believe about Jesus on a good day?
o What do you believe about Jesus when your car won’t start and you’re late for taking the kids to school?
o What do you believe about Jesus when you’re sick in bed?
o When your close friend or relative dies?
o Do you value knowing Jesus and his glory is more than your pain going away? More than money? More than free time? More than any pleasure this world has? More than the easing of the suffering in your life?
o Would you rather have Jesus than anything?