Tim Warke introduced this fifth study in the ‘Born Identity’ series by asking us a question: what aspects of your life remind you of a sense of achievement or success? What an interesting question!
Then Tim said there is an ultimate question that determines the overall course of our lives, and how each of us answers this question is a matter of life and death. The question would become evident as we read through John 11:1-46.
1. God’s plan is often unclear
Jesus was well-known for his healing abilities, so the obvious thing to Mary and Martha was to call for his help, in the hope that he would come immediately and intervene before it was too late.
We learn here that those who love Jesus turn to him first in times of trouble.
It seems contradictory that Jesus delayed his return and even the disciples were unsure about what was happening (vv.11-14), yet he had already said: “This illness will not end in death” (v.4).
Many Christians struggle when God doesn’t appear to answer heartfelt prayer and, like the disciples; we do not always understand the workings and purposes of God. All we can do is wait and trust him to do what is right.
2. Pain is all too real in this fallen world
Pain is a common experience in our broken world, so we can identify with the acute sense of loss and anguish that Martha and Mary felt.
Many Christians today may ask, “Where is God?” or “Does Jesus not understand my situation?”
In v.33 we see the real heart of Jesus – the perfect, sinless Son of God, who understands the pain and anguish of broken hearts, and who has compassion on those he loves.
Being a follower of Jesus may not make us immune from pain, but he is always with us. Never doubt that.
3. Jesus triumphs completely over death
In v.38 we read that Jesus was deeply moved, which may not fully convey his indignation for the death of one of his loved ones. One commentator says:
The command to “Take away the stone” must have caused great consternation among those present. Even Martha was reticent, since Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.
As Jesus prayed to the Father and called on Lazarus to come out, we can imagine the hesitant silence until Lazarus appeared very much alive and well.
What does it mean that whoever lives by believing in Jesus will never die?
Those who believe in Jesus, though their human bodies will die, will live with Jesus forever in heaven where there will be no more pain, no more brokenness or death.
4. The question that demands an answer
This is the ultimate question that we began with.
If you choose not to believe Jesus’ words, then you are choosing a life in this broken world without his care and protection, and a life spent in eternity apart from Jesus.
For those who do believe Jesus, even though you live in a broken world where pain and death are a reality, there is comfort in knowing that death is not the end. Jesus has triumphed over death, and you can look forward to an eternal future with him in heaven.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
Do you believe this?