VN520412 9-6-2015 Do You Believe?
I’m going to be reading John chapter 11, but you might as well not go there because if I read it I have to read the whole chapter and two or three people have already said we’re getting out early aren’t we? I did it for you last week and now you’re starting to expect this kind of treatment all the time. So, what I’ve done is I’ve condensed all these verses. There are portions left out. You can look it up. It’s a familiar passage so you’ll be able to pick up on all this stuff, but I was wanting to hit all these highlights and I hope that I made sense of it when I put it together.
So, this is the condensation form by Doyle Williams of John chapter 11 starting with verse 1. “Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” “Therefore his sisters sent unto him,” Jesus, “saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.” These things He said and after that He saith unto them, the disciples, our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that he may awake 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. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.”
Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him. Mary sat still in the hours waiting. “Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” “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. Believest thou this?” “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” Jesus wept. Jesus wept with her and said, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone.” And He cried in a loud voice Lazarus, come forth. “And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes.” Jesus said unto them let him, turn him loose, let him go, and you guys know most of the story though I stumbled my way through it, but there are some things here that I would like to hit on and try to clarify a little bit. I was supposed to have been speaking at a funeral service this week and this kind of got brought up more than once so you guys have to suffer through the answer/question session.
If you’ll notice it said that Lazarus was sick. He got the message. He makes the statement this sickness is not unto death. Later in verse 14 it says that He plainly told them Lazarus is dead. Now, He just got done saying this sickness is not unto death and yet He is pronouncing him dead. Does Jesus lie? No. For one thing He knows the future, and because He knows the future He knows what’s going to happen but for another, this isn’t unto death. So many people still think that when a person passes away that they cease to exist. That’s not what Jesus said. Lazarus is sick. He knows he’s going to pass away and yet He says this is not unto death for we do not cease to exist just because we leave our bodies. We go to be with the Lord is what happens to us, and I want you to know that for us even though with Lazarus, we’ll start that way, with Lazarus He knows He is going to go there and He knows that He is going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knows that what happened to Lazarus is only going to be a temporary thing.
With that same idea in mind, He speaks to us or about us in the same way. Whatever is going on in our life even if we pass away, this sickness is not unto death, meaning separation. This is not the end. When a believer passes away it is temporary. With Lazarus we know it was four days. Even with us if we pass away right now and even if it were 1000 years, 2000 years He is trying to communicate a believer’s passing is only temporary. It is not permanent. We will raise from the dead. That was His whole point telling us, Martha, do you believe that I am the way, the life, the resurrection? Do you understand that? Do you really believe that? She said yes. He said good. Now you’re going to see the glory of God because of what He did. Some people take the idea that Lazarus was raised from the dead, and I’ve heard people and ministers say that when someone passes away you should go over there and pray for them that God would raise them from the dead.
God did it for Lazarus, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If He could do it for Mary and Martha he can do it for you, and I’ve not known a person yet to raise from the dead,that is provable. So what really happened there? Why did he do this? He did this for one reason, I think. He did this to prove that He has the ability to resurrect a person. He has that ability to literally raise that man up. He proved a point, He fulfilled prophecy at that point, but He also did it to let us know that He has that ability. So, when someone in our family dies or if we are personally facing that situation or friends or a loved one when we get there to that point we can look at it and say this is only temporary. He will raise me because I know He can raise people because He did raise Lazarus. Now on the subject of raising somebody from the dead, honestly I would pay good money to see it happen, but you’ve got to realize that Lazarus paid a price.
When he rose from the dead, later on you will find in the next chapter, actually chapter 12, you will find where Jesus comes to Bethany. He is there. People are coming to see Jesus, but not Jesus only is the way it says. Not only are they coming to see Jesus, they want to see Lazarus, the man whom Jesus raised. So, they were coming to see Lazarus, and as it was pointed out this morning, the Sadducees and the High Priests at that time and all the priests at that time, not the Levites, but all the priests at that time were Sadducees and they did not believe in the resurrection. Now they’ve got this guy that was confirmed dead standing up, walking around, and eating a meal and it says in that next chapter that the chief priests wanted to kill Lazarus. They were going to guarantee that this guy did not resurrect. They were going to kill him personally. Lazarus became a hunted man because he was risen from the dead. How did they confirm that he was actually dead?
Well, the Jewish people, and I’ll say it this way, had this superstition that when a person passed away, that their spirit would hang around for about three days and on the fourth day they would leave because the body would begin to stink and the spirit would say ah, don’t want to be here, and he would leave or the spirit would leave. That is what they believed and that’s why Jesus waited those four days to prove a point. This man is truly gone. He has passed away. He has departed from this physical plane, and then He goes there, so they know he is confirmed. He has actually passed away. He raises him up from the dead. Now, one of the questions that should be asked is, is it worth it if you had that opportunity? Sure, I’ve had people pass away. I’ve got people in my life that I miss, I miss, and they’ve been gone for years, some of them decades, and I would still really like to sit down and talk to them, but if I know that they’re in heaven I would not have the nerve to say God, bring that person back. Bring that person back.
Why would you want to take somebody out of paradise that you know to be such a great thing that I have not seen nor ear have heard the things that God has prepared for His people, and that person is up there enjoying the presence of God. I wouldn’t have the audacity to ask that person to come back here to this world and all the stuff that’s going on. Rather we need to approach that just like King David did. When his son passed away he said he cannot come back to me but one day I will go to him. So, at this funeral, if I was giving a funeral at this time, and to you also all those people that you know that are up there right now, prepare yourself. Make sure that you have right standing with God through Jesus Christ so that you can say with David I will go to see them because where your treasure is, there your heart shall be. So, start working on, the word work is a bad church word there, start preparing yourself and confirming.
That’s why it says let every person work out their salvation with fear and trembling, and it doesn’t mean work it out as in doing good works. It means like a mathematical problem. Make sure that you work through all this, that you are confirmed and that you are in Jesus Christ. What can we take away from this? When we read this Jesus was moved. He was moved. He was touched by the sadness of Martha and of Mary and the Jews that were with Him. It says that He was moved in the spirit and He groaned and He wept. He can be moved by our sadness. He responded to their faith. He did this so that He could raise a man from the grave after four days, confirmed that he had passed away, raised him from the dead after four days so that we could take comfort in the thought He can do it. He has done it, He made these promises. He can and He will do it again with me and with my loved ones. He did it for them, He will do it for us. We know He can. We know He will because He doesn’t lie.
Now, Matthew chapter 9. We’re going to trundle along in that same idea. Matthew 9:26-31. The news spread therefore throughout all the land. Now what happened is Jesus had just raised this girl that had passed away from the dead. I mean, she had just passed away and He raised her. He hadn’t waited the four days. So, the news had went out. As Jesus went from there two blind men followed Him crying out have mercy on us Son of David. When He entered the house the blind men came up to Him and Jesus said unto them, “‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘It shall be done to you according to your faith.'” And their eyes were opened and Jesus sternly warned them, ‘See that no one knows about this’, but they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all the land.”
Now, just quickly over this. There are these two blind guys. They had heard and they did not see, they had heard that He had just performed a great marvelous miracle. Jesus heads out of that house where the girl was raised. He’s walking down the street and these blind men are walking and they’re crying out. David, Son of David, Jesus, heal us, David, and they followed him. He ignores them. They keep walking and crying out Son of David, heal us. He ignores them. He keeps walking. They keep crying out as they follow Him to be healed and calling Him the Son of David and He ignores them. Finally He gets to the house, goes into it. They duck into the house following Him. Then He turns on them and He says, “Do you believe?” “Do you believe?” We’ve got this idea that when people cried out to Jesus immediately He felt or had the urge or the need to react immediately. Why didn’t He jump up was Martha’s idea? Why didn’t He jump up as soon as He heard about Lazarus being sick when she greeted Him and said had You been here, had You been here he wouldn’t have suffered through this.
Mary meets Him and says had You come. How come you didn’t show up on time? You could have been here. You could have stopped this. These guys are walking behind Him saying Jesus, heal us. Jesus, we know You can do it. You’re the Son of David. You’re the prophesized guy. You’re the Messiah and we believe that, and yet He ignores them and He ignores them and He walks away from them until He gets into the house and they follow Him, and then Christ asks them the question. What do we take away from this? This is what we can take away from here. Though we may earnestly follow after Christ, I mean just we’re right there dogging His steps, though we have a real need, these guys were blind, Lazarus was sick, even if we have fancy Doyle Williams theology, even though they’re testifying that He is the Christ, that’s what they were doing when they were saying that Son of David, they were calling out to people to let them know that He was the Messiah, and though they professed that profusely they walk behind Him continually calling out and crying as He walked and they were dogging His steps. Even though they did that He ignored them and continued and continued until He finally gets into that house and then He turns on them and says do you believe it?
You see, the problem is a lot of people go to church and they will follow Him earnestly trying to do good deeds. It says in the last days when He returns people will say Lord, Lord, did we not do all this in thy name and He will say I never knew you. Though you earnestly are following what you think He wants you to do, and though you do have a real need, and even if you’ve got all the fancy charismatic theology or Baptist theology or methodist theology or just pick whichever theology you want to follow, Armenian, Calamism, whichever, whatever, even though you have all this fancy theology, even though you’re calling Him the Christ, He will turn and ask this one question which He did to Martha and Mary, which He did to the two blind people, do you believe it? It doesn’t matter if you were walking behind Him yelling that He is the Messiah. He wants us to turn in faith. I mean, when He turns to us and asks us He wants us to say yes, I believe it, and do it with honesty.
He is moved by our sorrow. He is aware of our needs and He may be putting us off, and sometimes I think He puts us off so that we have to deal with the question do we really believe it and He has given us time to work ourselves through this. Do I believe that He can answer? I’m saying that He is the Son of God but is it in my heart, is it a sincere absolute, or is it just a head knowledge that I’ve been told this and I accept it to be a fact? It’s not enough just to say yeah, that’s right. It is that, it is so right that I’m going to base my life on that belief and I’m going to take a stand on that. My question to you as you come to Christ and as you said your prayers today and you laid out your needs, you’ve laid out your heart’s disease, you said You are the Son of God, I pray in Jesus’ name, you’ve done all the theological things right, if at that point He appeared to you and looked at you and pointed at you and said but do you believe it? Do you believe it? What would the true answer be there?
Well, I’ve been taught this. I think this is true. I give it intellectual accent. My church says it’s true. I’ve done it this way for years out of habit. But do you believe it? You see, He answers our prayers not because He’s moved by our sadness. There are sad stories all over the place. He has heard it all before. He hears you. He was ignoring these guys that were following after him. He could hear them testifying, but then He turns and He says to us, to Mary, Martha and to the two blind people do you believe? Will He answer your prayers today? Do you believe? Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus I ask that You would speak to us through Your spirit, through Your word, and as You have stalled us and ignored us or seemingly ignored us, give us presence of mind, give us the pause that causes us to stop and really give it a though,t are we just saying these things? Yes, they are true needs, but do we believe that He can and will hear and answer prayer? I ask that You would move on us today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
You see, He raised that guy from the dead, that would be Lazarus, He raised him from the dead before He even passed away, but as time went on He also continued and He laid His life down and He said I lay My life down. No one takes it from me. I lay it down, and because I lay it down I will pick it back up again. He is demonstrating He has the absolute authority. He demonstrated with Lazarus He could do it. Today we’re going to celebrate His last supper as we call it. He through this, is asking the question do you believe that I laid my life down and that I picked it up? Do you believe what you’re confessing, that this is a contract between Me and you and that I will hear and I will answer your prayers? Do you believe?
Would the elders please come forward? “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.'”
Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus we ask you to bless this to the nourishment of our soul and spirit. Father, cause us to take a time to see that this is the reality, that He died for us and He rose from the dead with promises that no matter what everything in this world is just temporary when it comes to us because we’re believers. Help us to endure, help us to triumph, and help us to overcome because Jesus did. In His name we pray. Amen.
“And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.'”
Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus we ask you to bless this cup as a representation of the covenant which You wrote for us. Father, we know it’s a better covenant than anybody else has ever had. Help us to trust in it, help us to avail ourselves to Your great favor and grace in our lives. Help us to witness to it because we do experience that grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
And then it says, “After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” We’re not going to the Mount of Olives but we’ll sing number 375 while they collect the cups. 375.