The eleventh chapter of John’s Gospel shows us that Christians, even though they have come into new life, still need to be loosed from the wrappings of death.
John 11:1, 3, 6-7 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary
and her sister Martha.
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.
6 When He had heard therefore that He was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was.
7 Then after that said He to His disciples, Let us go into Judea again.
Notice that after Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He lingered where He was for another two days. Have you also noticed in your life that the Lord never seems to get in a hurry? He is never late, but sometimes it seems that He is.
John 11:20-21, 23-25 Then
Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him: but Mary
sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, my brother had not died.
23 Jesus said unto her, Your brother shall rise again.
24 Martha said unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.
Martha’s way of thinking concerning the Scriptures is the same as that of many Christians today, and it limits them from becoming what the Lord wants them to be.
Too often we place the fulfillment of God’s promises in the future instead of realizing that the Lord is usually speaking to us concerning the present. Martha was taking the Word of the Lord and placing it in the future. Jesus had said, “Your brother shall rise again.” And Martha responded, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
John 11:25-27 Jesus said unto her, I am the
resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though He were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Believe this?
27 She said unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
Martha confirmed her faith in Jesus. She believed that He was the Son of God. She believed He was the Christ which was to come into the world. But she had been conditioned by religious doctrines, and it was difficult for her to understand what He was saying.
John 11:32-36 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and
saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, Lord, if You had been
here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have you laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him!
Jesus was not troubled and weeping because Lazarus was dead. He knew what He was going to do about that. He was weeping because of the death-grip of unbelief in the hearts of Mary, Martha, and the others. He not only wanted to raise Lazarus, but He wanted to deliver them, too.
John 11:38-40 Jesus therefore again groaning in
Himself came to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said unto Him, Lord, by this time he stinks: for he has been dead four days.
40 Jesus said unto her, Said I not unto you, that, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?
It is necessary for us to understand what Jesus was doing. He spent more time and effort ministering to Mary and Martha than He did raising Lazarus from the dead. The sisters realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lazarus was dead. But they did not realize, because of their unbelief, that there was a death upon them, too. So Jesus was more concerned about their condition than He was Lazarus’.
John 11:41-42 Then they took away the stone from the place
where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I
thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me.
42 And I knew that Thou hearest Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.
Martha had said, “Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Yet Jesus said, “…because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” If they believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God which should come, why would Jesus say, “…that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me”? Their faith was futuristic, and futuristic faith always has an element of unbelief that separates us from the Lord.
John 11:43-44 And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Jesus cried with a loud voice, and said, “Lazarus, come forth!” Lazarus, who had been dead for several days, arose from his grave, and came forth from the tomb, the grave clothes still on him. He had come into new life, for he who was dead was now living. We also were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1). But when we heard Jesus speak and believed on Him, we came into new life. We became Christians.
When Lazarus came forth he still had the wrappings of death on him. Jesus turned to the people and said, “Loose him, and let him go.” It is the same with us. Even though we are Christians, we need to be loosed from the bonds of death. We may not be dead like Lazarus, but most of us still have the wrappings of a dead religion like Mary and Martha. We will never break through into true discipleship as long as the Lord is futuristic in our thinking. A disciple walks with Him in the present. Jesus is the Word, and we are not separated from Him (John 8:31). We must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Copyright © 2003 by Henry DuBose