Monday, August 29, 2005

Grave Robbers

Dry today....again. I'm sober too:)! All is well at the White house. Hope
your house is fine.
Today's main points about Lazarus' resurrection are:
Remove, Respond & Release. Hope you can make this into a good one! - kirk

Jesus, The Ultimate Grave Robber
John 11
I. Introduction
A. Stories of Grave robbers.
1. I read story about South Africans digging up the body of a white
deputy as a cure for AIDS. The belief is that if you grind up the bones
of a white person and consume them you will be cured from this dreadful
disease.
2. According to the Vermont News, a medical facility was confronted by
300 of the local citizens of Hubbardtown demanding the return of the body
of one of their deceased. It was assumed she was snatched for medical
purposes. They recovered the body and no charges were brought.
B. Jesus, one day will become the greatest grave robber of them all.
1. Not that he steals bodies, but that the grave cannot hold us after we
hear his call.
C. The resurrection of Lazarus serves this point well.
D. Jesus and funerals:
1. Have you ever noticed that every time Jesus went to a funeral there
was a surprise ending?
a. Jarius’ daughter, “the child is not dead, but sleeping” (Mk. 6:39)
Up from her death bed she arose.
b. Widow’s son at Nain, “Do not weep” (Lk. 7:13). Up from the coffin he
arose.
c. Lazarus “Your brother shall rise again” (Jn. 11:23). Up from the
dead he arose.
2. Before he came to the funeral, chaos was all around an upheaval of
emotions, when he left peace presided. Before he came, great sorrow
consumed loved ones, when he left great joy was experienced. Before he
came, misconceptions about the afterlife were held, when he left, all
doubt was removed.
3. These factual stories are recorded because death strikes every
community, every family, every person, therefore, take heart in knowing
we and our loved ones will rise again.
E. As one examines the resurrection of Lazarus, one can’t be but amazed
at the awesome power of the voice Christ.
1. The voice of Jesus is not only heard on earth, but also in the region
of the dead. What authority he possesses! By it he created the world
(Heb. 11:3; Jn. 11ff), transforms lives (Col. 3:16), and resurrects the
dead! This episode demands our utmost attention concerning the need to
“hear him” (Matt. 17:5), for “faith comes by hearing and hearing the word
of God” (Rom. 10:17).
F. John 11 is an emotional charged chapter.
1. It talks about personal love - Jesus counted Lazarus as one of his
friends (vs. 3, 5, 11, 36).
2. It exposes the reality of anxiety (6).
3. It puts into the cross-hairs the scope of fear and zealousness (8,
16).
4. It records in real time, anguish of the body and tears streaming down
faces (33, 35).
5. It highlights hope and summons courage - because the dead has been
brought to life.
G. We may notice briefly the principle characters of the story.
1. Mary & Martha - sisters who loved the presence of Jesus. Mary enjoyed
listening to his teaching, while Martha was noted for her diligent
service (Lk. 10:38-42).
a. There are many today who enjoy the presents of Jesus without having
a desire to be in his presence. How much respect do you have for one who
only needs you when they want money or your services? At holiday events,
what do parents enjoy the most from their children, their presents
(gifts) or their presence (company)? In like manner we should be people
who are willing to sit at the feet of Jesus, being in his presence at his
calling (Heb. 10:25) and not at our convenience. If you want his
presents, stay in his presence!
2. Lazarus - the brother of Mary and Martha and a friend of Jesus (Jn.
11:11). If you are a friend of Jesus, you have a lot going for you.
a. Holy scripture teach us that: “A friend loves at all times” (Prov.
17:17); has a pure heart and grace on his lips (22:11); improves ones
image (27:17); he will help, even when imposed upon (Lk. 11:1ff). And
Jesus said, “You are my friends if you keep my commands” (Jn. 15:14).
What a blessing to have Jesus call you his friend.
3. The disciples - ignorant and oblivious as to what has happened and
what will occur.
a. “Why Jesus, you can come up with some good ones, Why don’t you let
him sleep. He deserves a little rest.” “Boys he’s dead.” “Oh.”
b. They had just escaped a stoning from that region after Jesus made a
blind man see (v.8). Realizing you can’t tell Jesus what he is or is not
going to do, Thomas reflects their state of mind (v. 16). At this point
their faith was prime or at least in this brief moment their courage to
die for his cause was at its peak. We know later how they all forsook him
and how Thomas doubted.
c. Sometimes we can scale tall mountains with a single bound for Jesus,
at others we can’t jump over a mole hill. “The spirit is willing, the
flesh is weak.” We see ourselves in this disciple. Up, and down. Jesus
warned us about putting our hands to the plow and looking back (Lk.
9:62). Oh how we must rely upon his power to keep on going, and his
abundant mercy when we fail.
There are many directions we may go with this chapter, I wish to focus on
verse six and the latter part of the chapter, vs. 38-44.
II. Our Need to Wait on the Lord John 11:6 The delay:
A. One thing must be recognized and accepted by man - God is not bound by
time, but he has to wait for all things to be right. He operates not on
the whims of man but, “according to the purpose of him who works all
things after the council of his will” (Eph. 1:11).
1. “Why,” someone may ask, “does God take so long to bring something to
pass?” Could it be that God is waiting for something - waiting for the
time to be right. Waiting for attitudes to change. Waiting for an
opportunity to act that will further the gospel, that will bring the
greatest glory to Him and his people? You see God's delays aren't signs
of failure. Remember Joseph? In fact when you think about the story of
the Bible, the theme of God's plan being delayed runs right through it.
When you get home today open up Hebrews 11 and read through that list of
people of faith and you'll discover that the common theme that runs
through all of them is that they were all waiting for God to fulfill his
plan, but that none of them saw it (11:13).
2. Truth is, delays are always from our perspective because we live
within time – and since God is not limited by time, His time of answering
is always right – never late and never nearly. God’s love is not the love
of an indulgent parent who gives in to every whim of the child. God’s
purpose is to make us holy, not (contrary to all the propaganda) to make
us happy. God allows things into our lives which our self-centered
pursuit of happiness would never allow. So Jesus delays in going to
Bethany. He delays – remember that – it is not that He refuses to go. It
is not that He does not care or that He is indifferent to Lazarus, Mary
or Martha. The delay is for the glory of God and for their greater good –
that they may believe - so the world might believe. 42b; 20:30, 31).
3. Isa. 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their
strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and
not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

III. Jn. 11:38-42 Three Commands Necessary to obey if Lazarus to be
raised.
A. REMOVE {vs 38, 39}
1. The stone was the one thing that stood between Jesus and Lazarus and
the Lord wanted it removed.
2. Man must get involved when Jesus begins to work his work.
a. Men had to tear up the roof to get to Jesus (Mk. 2); Those diseased
had to come where Jesus was working, blind had to go wash, tax collector
humble himself, Zaccaehus climbed a tree.
b. I have discovered that people will let you do everything for them if
you let them “Can we have some groceries, will you bring them to us?”
“Will work for food” a sign read from a displaced person - gave excuse,
“Well I’ve got a bad back.”
c. The point - man always was involved in some way when Jesus did his
work. You and I must be involved if Jesus is going to work in us.
3. Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Destroy the stone.”
a. You see, one can’t destroy every hindrance which exist, else we
would could not walk, touch or see (Matt. 18:8, 9); we would have to take
the lives of those we love (Matt. 10:37); become a pauper, living on the
charities of others (Matt. 19:21).
b. We aren’t asked to destroy, but we can remove the hindrances. This
is OUR work.
4. Every one of us have things that need to be removed so we may get
closer to Jesus.
a. It may be an unequal relationship (2 Cor. 6:14); your job, whether
unethical or too busy, Jesus asks us to seek him first; a hobby of decent
pleasure which consumes your time; an addiction; your fear of doing
spiritual work (Matt. 25:25).
b. Now remember, removing them doesn’t mean to get rid of them, (unless
they are sinful) but, there needs to be priority in our life for Christ
if we are going to get closer to him. (Jas. 4:7 resist, draw near).
5. Also notice that there is always resistance when good is about to be
done. Even in the case of raising Lazarus. "by this time there is a bad
odor, for he has been there four days."
a. Close friends, relatives and church members slow down your spiritual
progress if you let them. Your relatives know how bad your situation
stinks and how long you have been that way…don’t let it stop you!
6. I want to challenge you this hour to remove any stones that may be
standing in the way of you getting as close to Jesus as possible.
B. RESPOND {vs 43, 44a} "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out…
1. It wasn’t enough to hear from Jesus, obedience needed to take place.
(Lk. 6:46 why call me...)
2. Look closely at this verse…Lazarus was commanded to do something
that no one had ever been asked to do before
a. So was the disciples (Matt. 28:19, 20).
3. Lazarus was commanded by the Lord to do something that really didn’t
make a whole lot of sense
a. He was fine, his soul was fine, why leave paradise to come back to
earth? Because Jesus told him to and that was all that mattered!
4. Do you find yourself being commanded to do something that really
doesn’t make sense to you or to the people around you?
a. “Be baptized” (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). “Don’t wear that” (1
Tim. 2:9).
“Come to all the services” (Heb. 10:25). “Don’t wear denominational
names” (Act 4:12).
“As you go, teach” (Matt. 28:19, 20).
5. Unfortunately, Some hear voices which is not of the Lord.
a. “You don’t have to be baptized,” “One church is as good as another.”
“It’s not really a baby in the womb.” “That’s just the way God made you.”
6. Brother, friend, whatever Christ has commanded us in the word, obey
the Lord and let HIM deal with the consequences that follow. He will
bring glory to himself and us if we trust and obey.
C. RELEASE {vs 44} "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
1. Lazarus was free, but he still was limited....he was limited in four
areas:
a. His Walk---feet was hindered from moving freely because of the
weight of the burial clothes and spices.
b. His Work---hands was restrained from free motion because of the
garb.
c. His Watchfulness---face completely wrapped so no one could identify
him.
d. His Witness---mouth shut with a cloth tied from chin to top of head.
2. What’s got you all wrapped up today?
3. Many of us have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27) but today we are limited by
the things that’s got us all wrapped up.
a. Some walk with Sin. Christ was a friend of sinners but did not
participate in their evil acts.
b. Some fail to work because of Fear. I’ll never do as good a job as
him/her (Matt. 25:25).
c. Others are more watchful in the Opinions of man than the oracles of
God.
d. Many refuse to open their mouth for Jesus for they Worry what
someone might think of them.
4. Allow the Lord to release you today from anything that is limiting
you in his service.

IV. Because man obeyed the voice of Jesus, Faith was REVEALED {vs 45}
A. Others saw what Jesus did in Lazarus’ life and they put their faith in
God
1. Can’t the same blessing be ours when we place our trust in the Lord?
a. St. Francis of Assisi said, “At all times preach the Gospel and when
necessary…use words.”
B. May the people around us see that the Lord has done in our lives and
put their faith in the Lord

REVIEW:
• Do you need to REMOVE something between you & Jesus?
• Do you need to RESPOND to a command of Jesus?
• Do you need to be RELEASED from something that is limiting you?
• We need to REVEAL to others what God had done for us!
(main points I. - IV. by Phil Anderson)

CONCLUSION
1. Lazarus had been brought to Life: we were dead in trespasses and sin
but... (Eph. 2:1)
2. Lazarus was Jesus’ friend (vs. 11) A friend will do what ever Jesus
commands, even if it means returning from paradise. (Jn. 15:14) What are
you willing to remove thats in the way so you may get closer to him?
3. Want more from Jesus than his presents (gifts) desire to be in his
presence at all times.
Respond to his call.
4. Is there something you wish to reveal this morning? Perhaps that God
has pricked your heart unto repentance. Come acknowledging the fact that
he died for you. That you are willing to change your life, confess that
glorious name, be immersed for the removal of past sins, contacting the
blood of Christ (Rom. 6:3-6); and simultaneously being added to his
church, the body of the saved (Eph. 5:23).
5. Jesus is the ultimate grave robber. When he comes to raise you up,
will you be ready?

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