Should we trust Jesus for salvation and despite the reality of our situation?
There is sufficient evidence that Jesus should be trusted without limitation.
There is the evidence of not only his humiliation but his ultimate exaltation.
There is evidence not only of his death but his ultimate resurrection.
That we should trust Jesus is preserved in the Gospel tradition.
And our text, John 11:25-46, is a part of this written revelation
Revelation unfolding the wonderful story of Jesus’ earthly Mission;
Earthly mission for the sole purpose of God’s glorification
Mission that seeks to save all from sin’s penalty domination;
Mission that ensures our redemption and our liberation
And all that you need to do is to ensure you make the right decision;
And continue to trust Jesus despite the realty of your situation
So let us on the text do some deeper contemplation;
Contemplation that may help to clarify any prevailing misconception
Misconception such as that which is about the real purpose of Jesus’ earthly mission; In pursuit of this, from the text, let us give these some serious consideration:
- Trust Jesus as the source of your salvation
- Trust Jesus despite the reality of your situation
- Trust Jesus as the source of your salvation
- Trust Jesus despite the reality of our situation
- Trust Jesus as source of your salvation
- Trust Jesus despite the reality of our situation
At the end of this all it is hoped that all will declare “I would rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today”
All of John 11:33-42 speak to the reality of the mission of Jesus. That Jesus was very certain about his mission is evident here. That Jesus was very certain about the purpose of his coming is here underlined
The revelation is that the purpose of the coming of Jesus is, above all things, to bring glory to God through the salvation of humanity (hear v.v. 40-42). Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me
It is clear from these verses that Jesus was experiencing deep sorrow, not only in the presence of death, but also because of the evidence of doubt.
The crucial question as we wrestle with these verses is: what was the real cause of/reason for this deep sorrow and weeping? Do you believe he was weeping because of the death of Lazarus like others – some of whom were official mourners?
Why should he when he had the power to raise Lazarus?
Do you believe he was weeping because he was reminded of the reality of his own pending death on the cross? But why should he when he was never afraid of laying down his life for our sake? Was not this the pathway to travel in pursuit of his mission for our salvation?
I put it to you that his deep sorrow was more really about the possible eternal death for those who did not believe in him. Let us hear verse 25-26:
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
This is emphasis that the greater concern of Jesus was not so much about physical death. The greater concern of Jesus was for people to believe in him so that they experience eternal life despite the reality of physical death. So in verse 33-38, Jesus wept, was in deep sorrow, and was deeply moved and troubled, not so much because Lazarus was dead.
Jesus wept, and was in deep sorrow, and was deeply moved and troubled, not so much because of the fact of his own pending death. But Jesus wept, was in deep sorrow, and was deeply moved and troubled, because of the unbelief of the Jews
It was about their unbelief in him as the Christ, despite all the signs and wonders he did before as proof that he was the Christ, and which they witnessed. Despite all this, they still did not believe he was the Christ. If they had believed they would not be sceptical, cynical and doubtful about the ability of Jesus to raise Lazarus even after the passing of four days.
Jesus wept, was in deep sorrow, and was deeply moved and troubled, because of the Jews unbelief in Jesus as the one with the authority to bring back the dead to life, and so give eternal life to those who believe in him.
This interest in getting persons to believe in him and experience eternal life underlines Jesus’ mission to Bethany near Judaea despite knowledge of the Pharisees wanting to capture or harm him very likely being there. NoteJohn 11:7-8
This interest in getting persons to believe in him and experience eternal life also underlines Jesus arriving when as many as four days were gone.
By this time it was believed that the spirit had left because of the oncoming stench, and was no longer waiting to enter the body. In other words, it was believed that resurrection was impossible after the passing of the third day. In the raising of Lazarus after four days were passed, Jesus would once again give evidence that he was Christ.
Even though verse 46 points to those who rejected, verse 45 reveals that mission was accomplished. It declares:Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him
Later in the Gospel, in no uncertain way, Jesus is declared as the source of our salvation. He declares according to John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
In fact to believe in Jesus and experience life is given as the essence for the writing of the Gospel of John. Hear John 20:31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,and that by believing you may have life in his name” .
So for example, Nicodemus and all who read and hear John are told in 3:14-18, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness,so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believesmay have eternal life in him.
For God so lovedthe world that he gavehis one and only Son,that whoever believesin him shall not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the worldto condemn the world, but to save the world through him.Whoever believes in him is not condemned,but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
In our text Jesus demonstrated that not even death can prevent us from experiencing the life that he gives.
Hebrews 9:27 declares that we have an appointment with death, but 1 Corinthians 15 declares that with Jesus death have no sting and the grave have no victory.
Paul in a context where God’s people were faced with death each day, and where many had already died, could therefore confidently declare in 1 Cor. 15:55-57
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Among the lessons revealed is that God will continue to allow physical death to take place, even the death of those who are close and dear, as the real mission of Jesus was never to stop this from happening.
So despite whom we are and the prayers we pray our love ones will die ultimately and death may even be their only release from pain and suffering.
But despite this lesson revealed, let us not miss the fact that Jesus came that we may experience the bodily resurrection from the dead, and experience life even beyond death, and nothing can stop this from happening. We are challenged therefore to believe in Jesus as the Christ and make him Lord of our life for the sake of our salvation.
This is not a guarantee to physical life, but it is certainly a guarantee to a better quality life now, and guarantee for resurrection to eternal life. So trust Jesus today. For to trust him is to experience eternal life.
As we trust him for our salvation, let us continue to trust him daily despite the reality of our situation. This takes us to consideration 2:
The essence of the reality of our situation is that we live in a world in which things quite often go in a way that we wish were not so. When this is the reality of our situation, we often focus on what we think is best for us rather than what God may be doing.
The text reveals this to be so in the case of the death Lazarus. That Lazarus was dead was the reality, and there was the wish that this was not so. The real focus was not so much on what Jesus would now still do but on what Jesus did not do.
The real focus was on Jesus not preventing Lazarus from dying. Let us again hear verse: 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
This was also the focus of Martha and Mary according to verse 21 & 32 in which they both said the same thing: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Does this remind us of the many today who are still focused on if God could not and why God did not? This includes the question of if God could not and why God did not prevent our loved ones from meeting an accident, getting terminally ill, and from dying.
Is it too hard to consider that even through these seemingly terrible things, the will of God may be done and God’s name may be glorified?
Is it too hard to look beyond even death, and to the glorious bodily resurrection made possible in and through Christ Jesus? We must be honest! Sometimes it is hard to look beyond the reality of our situation. Like Mary, Martha and the others, our focus is not about what God may be doing in and through our reality.
Instead our focus is on if God could not and why God did not – a focus that may communicate a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness rather than trust. Like in the case of, for example, Elijah in 1Kings 19, this is exactly how we may feel. We may feel daunted, fearful, hopeless and even helpless because of the reality of our situation.
But as he was faced with the reality of his situation, Elijah came to realise that God did not forget him. He came to realise that God is to be trusted to deliver despite the reality of our situation. He came to realise that God is always in control despite the reality of our situation.
This is what Jesus ultimately demonstrated in our text. By raising Lazarus from the dead, he demonstrated that God is always in control. By raising Lazarus from the dead, he demonstrated that Jesus should still be trusted despite the reality of our situation. Jesus then by his own resurrection cemented the fact that God is in control despite the reality of our situation.
In Jesus God demonstrates his power over all things – sickness & diseases, destructive forces of nature, Satan and demons, death and doom.
Like Elijah, like Mary and Martha, and like many others, we may not know how God will choose to do it, but the lesson to be learnt is that God will not abandon his people. You can trust Jesus despite the reality of your situation. Do you believe this?
Believing this is at the heart of fervent, faithful witnessing as we seek to live the sacrificial life. If the church does not trust Jesus despite the reality of our situation, there may loss of fervency and focus, a waning in cooperation and commitment, a sense of discouragement and even dissonance.
The reality of our situation may even be the seemingly powerful, colluding like they did against Jesus, and even attempt to silence the church, or make it into a puppet on a string.
But the church must never be fearful and will never be silenced as Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18 – Upon this rock... “Crowns and thrones... Furthermore the resurrected Christ has declared in Revelation 11:17-18, “Fear not…”
The fervent, faithful witness of the church will continue as long as we trust Jesus despite the reality of our situation. This church militant will one day become the church triumphant as is revealed in Revelation 7:9ff, where in a vision John saw a great multitude…This is a vision of victory as the church with Jesus as the lamb that is a conquering lion can never be defeated.
In living the sacrificial life, let us continue along the pathway to victory by trusting Jesus. Let us:
Let your declaration this morning, and beyond, continue to be: “I would rather have Jesus...”
Lord, may we be convinced that the pathway to victory is to trust you, as is revealed in and through your word. There is sufficient evidence that you should be trusted without limitation or reservation. Help us to trust you as the source of salvation. And help us to trust you despite the reality of our situation. We trust you for a better quality life now in the midst of all the realities of life, and victory over all things, even over our fear for death and the grave. Amen
(Christ For Today – April 30 2017 – Robert Campbell)