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Presentation 43. Introduction The raising of Lazarus from the dead is the ‘climax miracle’ of John's Gospel and the last of the seven sign miracles.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 43. Introduction The raising of Lazarus from the dead is the ‘climax miracle’ of John's Gospel and the last of the seven sign miracles."— Presentation transcript:

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3 Introduction The raising of Lazarus from the dead is the ‘climax miracle’ of John's Gospel and the last of the seven sign miracles of Jesus. It is the longest and most elaborately described of all the miracles. The results of this miracle are more momentous than those of any other sign, not least because of the increased determination of the religious leaders to eliminate Jesus. Finally, and most importantly, the spiritual meaning of this miracle is striking and leads us to the very heart of the gospel. Presentation 43

4 Introduction John has selected miracles in order to teach the spiritual lessons that lie behind them: 1.By turning water into wine, we see Jesus as the source of joy and abundant life. 2.The healing of the nobleman’s son revealed Jesus’ power over all that marred God’s original creation. 3.In the healing of the impotent man we see Jesus’ ability to meet the need of the helpless. 4.The feeding of the five thousand demonstrated Jesus’ ability to satisfy man’s spiritual need as well as his physical appetite. Presentation 43

5 Introduction 5.When Jesus walked on water he revealed his power over nature. 6.And the healing of the blind man pointed to Jesus’ unique ability to give sight to the spiritually blind. 7.In the raising of Lazarus from the dead we have before us a picture of how a man or woman, who is dead in sin, is brought to spiritual life by Jesus. Presentation 43 In each of these miracle stories John points our attention to the spiritual meaning behind the sign.

6 Believing is Seeing The lesson Jesus had for Martha, and also for us, is that in spiritual matters, “believing is seeing”. Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" We are more familiar with the expression, "seeing is believing." But Jesus turns that on its head, "Believing is seeing," You will know that in human relationships the expression "Seeing is believing," means that we have experienced untrustworthiness in human relationships - and so builders are bound by contracts, union heads sign work agreements, and so on. Presentation 43

7 Believing is Seeing When an applicant is interviewed for a job he is asked, "Do you think you can do the work?” The applicant answers. "Certainly!" Then he is asked, "Do you know what is involved?” “Yes”, he replies, “I have read all about it and have had two years' experience doing the same thing in my present employment." The interviewers are pleased to hear the applicant's replies but they still do not take all they have heard at face value. Instead, they ask for references. Even then if the job is offered they might say, “the post a probationary one, we'll see how you get on". In other words, ‘seeing is believing’ for in human affairs, performance has not always followed promise. Presentation 43

8 Believing is Seeing What makes Jesus turn a common adage on its head so that he teaches, "Believing is seeing"? There is only one answer, because he’s not speaking of fragile human relationships, where our ability is so often exaggerated, but of our relationship with God. Men may be well-meaning but untrustworthy, however, God is not. God has never made a promise that he has not fully fulfilled. Consequently, to believe God is to place oneself in the place of blessing, from which one will certainly see all that is promised in due time. Presentation 43

9 Perfect Faith In our passage Jesus links "seeing the glory of God" - a reference to the raising of Lazarus - to such faith. But interestingly, Martha apparently did not have such faith, nor did anyone else so far as we can see. When Jesus arrived at Bethany, to be greeted with the news that Lazarus was dead, Martha did not expect a resurrection. When Jesus said, "Take away the stone," Martha countered that it would be unwise to do so because the body would have begun to decay. She did not expect a resurrection! Presentation 43

10 Perfect Faith Where then, was the faith that was to result in seeing God's glory? There is only one person left in whom such faith can be seen - Jesus! He is the One who believed and who therefore saw God's glory. And so, his trust in the Father in v38 becomes a model for our own. What is the nature Christ's faith? There are several answers. First, it is personal. It was not faith in some abstract concept about God but faith in God himself. When they rolled away the stone, Jesus did not focus his sight on what was inside; he lifted up his eyes, and said, ‘Father’. Is your faith like that? Is it personal? Faith in the biblical sense is faith in a person. Presentation 43

11 Perfect Faith And so in the matter of salvation we should be able to say, "Lord Jesus Christ, I trust you to be my Saviour and to cleanse me of my sin." Or in the matter of prayer over a particular concern, "Father, I lay this crushing burden or pressing need before you." Secondly, the faith of Jesus was a totally trusting faith. This is seen in the fact that Jesus thanked God for the miracle even before it took place. "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me” v I don’t know how close we can come to that total belief of Jesus. We often fail to express a similar confidence that God will hear and answer our prayers. Presentation 43

12 Perfect Faith A Christian was making his way to a church meeting in Aberdeen. He was joined by a young theological student, also going to the same meeting. On route they sat down by the roadside to eat their lunch. Then, before starting out again, the old man suggested they pray and ask God for what they would need that evening. The older man had three requests. First, asked God to secure him a seat near the front for he was almost deaf. Then he pointed out that his shoes were badly worn. He needed a new pair, but had no money. Finally, he asked for lodgings for the night as he knew no one in the city. After each request the old man thanked God in advance for answering it. Presentation 43

13 Perfect Faith The theology student was shocked by what he saw as the impertinence of the old man, but said nothing. They arrived late for the meeting and there were no seats left. The student thought, "That will teach him!" Then a young lady at the front noticed the old man. She had been keeping a seat for her father but his work had detained him. She asked the usher to offer the seat to the old man. Presentation 43

14 Perfect Faith During the prayer time some of the gathering knelt while others stood reverently. The old man knelt, the young woman stood. She noticed the condition of his shoes and after the meeting invited him to her father's store -a shoe shop - and gave him a new pair. She asked where he was staying that night. He answered that God had not yet shown him where to stay. He was invited to the young lady’s parent’s home. The next day the theological student learned how God had answered prayer. God is not indifferent to the believing prayers of His people. Presentation 43

15 Perfect Faith The prayer of Jesus leads to the moment of the resurrection itself. Jesus called to Lazarus in a loud voice, “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." Here is the climax of the miracle, and at this point its spiritual application is very clear. The Bible teaches that anyone without Christ is, "dead in trespasses and sins." Spiritually speaking they are dead to God. They are as spiritually helpless, as Lazarus was physically. There is absolutely nothing they can do to improve their condition. Presentation 43

16 Perfect Faith What happens when Jesus speaks powerfully and authoritatively to men and women, who are spiritually dead to him? Those who hear his voice and respond, step out of death and darkness and into newness of life. Is Jesus calling you? Do you hear his voice, not audibly but, in your heart? All your life you have been entombed in spiritual darkness, helpless and unable to respond to God. Before now you have not been aware that there is a way out. But now there is and Jesus calls you by name. His call equips you to respond and to walk out into the bright, fresh air of his kingdom. Will you come? Presentation 43

17 Perfect Faith Those who are already believers can be involved in this ministry. You may ask, “How is that possible if no one but Jesus can raise the spiritually dead?” Notice that Jesus involved others in the miracle. First, those who moved away the stone. Then, those who were told to unbind Lazarus. We cannot bring the spiritually dead to life but we can bring the word of Christ to them. We too can do the preparatory work. We can help to remove the stones of ignorance, error, prejudice, and despair. And after the miracle, we can help the new Christian by unwinding the grave-clothes of doubt, fear, introspection, and discouragement. Presentation 43

18 Perfect Faith Jesus told his followers that they would be involved in greater miracles than they had seen him do Jn. 14v12. What is that greater miracle to which the sign miracles, including the raising of Lazarus in John’s gospel, points? It is the miracle of a new spiritual birth. We can be involved and used by God who is eager to satisfy the deepest spiritual appetites in others, to open their eyes to see and understand the truth of his Word, and to restore a broken humanity and to see others enter a joy that does not evaporate - all these things are facets of the same glorious miracle of new life. Presentation 43

19 Conclusion The miracle of new life is Christ's. But there is still work for us to do. Will we do it? Jesus used Ananias to reach out to Paul, after he had been struck down on the road to Damascus. He used Peter to reach Cornelius the Roman centurion. Do you doubt that he would use you if you were ready to do such work? Then get ready! Or be ready! There is no higher privilege on this side of heaven than to be used by the Lord in rolling away grave-stones and removing grave-clothes in order that men and women may enter into the glorious freedom of the Kingdom of God. Presentation 43


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