Raised to Walk in Newness of Life

Encountering Jesus in the Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Good morning, Ambassadors! I’m grateful to be with you again this Sunday, opening with you the gospel of John. As we continue our series “Encountering Jesus in the Gospel of John,” we are moving through the narrative story of Jesus through not only the perspective of John, but also through the lens of the signs he performed and the people He met. Today’s text, chapter 11, is quite possibly the most dramatic and glorious sign Jesus performed while in His ministry. My hope for us today is that we can make observations about this event and then apply those observations to our own walk with God.
Before we get into the text, I’d like to explore with you the idea of our emotions. Is there a film, a photo, an item, a person, or even a memory that elicits strong emotions from you? It could be positively or negatively, of course, but I’m sure that there are many things that come to mind. For example, my weak spot is soldiers returning home to surprise their kids, or maybe it’s a big brother or sister coming home, or something of that nature. I can’t watch those videos any more; I have to just keep swiping out of it because I know that I’ll start crying! Not crying because of the hurt, but because of the healing. Perhaps you have an item of clothing that brings back a memory, or you see a picture from years ago and remember how God has been faithful through it, and it brings you to tears. In any case, we all experience a wide range of emotions, for better or worse. One of the most comforting observations about our text today is that we can see that Jesus is Someone that has experienced that wide range of emotions and has felt the same pains and heartaches we have (except for the self-inflicted pains caused by sin- but he bore those for us on the cross as well). Knowing that our Lord Jesus is an empathetic Savior, let’s read together the text. We will not read it all at once, but break it into 4 sections.
John 11:1–16 ESV
1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 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.” 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. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
May God honor the reading of His Word. As I mentioned before, we’ll be breaking up this narrative into 4 sections, and in each section we will look at an observation and an application from that part of the story. My hope is that we together this morning will be blessed by seeing the whole picture of what was happening here. As we have just read through the first 16 verses, we see:

Observation: Jesus was crucially involved in deep relationships.

This passage is one of the best ways to show us the doctrine of what we call the Hypostatic Union. Jesus is fully God and fully man. His Deity and humanity are perfectly united, never shifting, and never in flux. God is a triune God of relationship. The Godhead beautifully and eternally exists in a state of three in one, and Jesus is a glimpse for us into that Godhead relationship. But while on earth, Jesus re-constituted that characteristic in his humanity by exhibiting for us the very relationships that you and I would get to experience. Jesus was intimately involved as we know with Peter, James, and John (often described as the inner circle of His Disciples). Here we see how this other family (Lazarus, Mary, and Martha) also enjoyed close personal friendship with Christ. There was a depth to there relationship.
Think of the closest family friend to your family. I think for me growing up, my parents were very close to my dad’s best friend and his wife, so much so that we called them Uncle Wes and Aunt Melina.
For my wife and I it is our dear friends Katie and Jordan, who live in Roanoke. Their presence at any serious moment of our lives would feel entirely appropriate, important, and welcome - just as Jesus was here.

Application: God made us for relationship rooted in the Gospel

Their relationship was deep, but not without an end or a foundation. Martha reveals more about what their friendship is based in by fully placing her trust in Christ and running to Him in the next section.
John 11:17–27 ESV
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 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. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “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.” 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.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Observation: God is unbothered by our circumstances, but not unsympathetic.

This is the beauty of the Sovereignty of God. We see Jesus’ attitude in the beginning portrayed as “laissez-faire” or almost apathetic. But we know it to be true that Jesus is not apathetic or unsympathetic to our lives. On the contrary, Jesus comes alongside this family, mourns with them and for them, while knowing all along that He had the key to it all in the first place.

Application: Draw near to Jesus and be open to His plan for your life.

In another story about Mary and Martha, we read it and think about how to be like Mary, but here we see it’s good to be like Martha! She does not hesitate to confess all that she knows about Jesus and trust Him for His goodness, even though she doesn’t fully know what that means in the current situation.
John 11:28–37 ESV
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Observation: Jesus wept for more than Lazarus; He was there when death entered the world.

Jesus was clearly moved and distraught by the loss of His friend. But knowing what we know about Jesus and about Jesus’ Deity, I can’t help but see how Jesus wept not only for Lazarus but for the sin that put Lazarus in the grave. Jesus was there when Adam ate of the fruit. God the Son was present when, before the foundation of the world, He committed to come and die for us so that we might be free.

Application: Know that there is a Savior who has not only wept over your sin, but paid for it.

Just as Jesus wept over Lazarus’ death, He has done so for our sin. And just as He wept in spite of being sovereign, He remains good and gracious to us, ready to receive us into newness of life.
John 11:38–44 ESV
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, 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 the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Observation: Lazarus’ resurrection was a foreshadow of the resurrection to come

This has been called the “Ultimate Sign.” John’s Gospel is full of signs that Jesus performed that always pointed to God the Father, but also to the work He was sent to do on earth. Lazarus is the third person Jesus raised in His ministry, and this the most public and improbable. Lazarus has been dead for four days, and Jesus calls him out of his death. Jesus similarly calls to sinners, telling them to get up and live! We ourselves were once dead in our trespasses and sins, yet Christ has, through his own resurrection on the third day, brought us to life - as long as we accept Him.

Application: Accept Christ and be raised to walk in newness of life

Newness of life:
Spiritual Discipline
Obedience to God’s Word and involvement in God’s Work (Church)
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