On Apr 5, 2015, pastor Darin preached from John 11:1-53, Resurrection and Life. Very often difficult events in our lives will either drive us closer to God, or sever us from Him. Common objection: either God is good, or God is in control. He cannot be both at the same time because evil, suffering, and death is in the world. If God is good, then He must be powerless to change this state of affairs. If He is in control and allows suffering, then He must not be good.
This objection is played out in our text. Jesus’ inner circle has seen Him do many things and they have developed confidence in Him. They trust that He will always help them. They are shocked though when the news comes that Lazarus, a friend that Jesus loves is ill, and Jesus does not immediately go to him. Three different times in our text we see the questions of shock at this by those close to Jesus: if He had come, Lazarus would not have died (vv. 21, 32, 36). We also see Mary, Lazarus’ sister, who is in a state of grief, so much so that she does not come out immediately to greet Jesus. When she does, she falls at His feet and asks the same question.
And we read that Jesus was deeply moved and troubled (v. 33). This word in the Greek is the word used of a snorting animal and conveys anger. It seems Jesus was deeply disturbed at the reality of death and the unbelief of those around Him that He could do anything about it.
1. If God is in control, what is He up to?
a. The answer is in Jesus’ reply to Martha in v. 40 (believers will see God’s glory). Jesus answers the conundrum of God being both good and in control despite suffering and death. Dig deeper: Read and reflect on Romans 8:18-39.
b. Jesus always works in greater measure to uncover God’s greater glory in your life. Sometimes the only way to get there is through suffering and grief. The ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus put it well: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
c. One objection to such things: “I don’t think that these things were necessary.” But the text leaves no doubt that just as He calls this family to this road of suffering and grief, He also identifies with and enters into their grief, as we read in v. 35 - “Jesus wept.” Dig deeper: In light of sin, the wonder isn’t that there is suffering and death, but that the God of the universe would willingly stoop so low as to allow Himself to personally experience both in the person of Christ. Read and reflect on Heb 4:15.
2. A summary of the gospel:
a. They had to walk through grief so that Jesus could take upon all our griefs, sorrows, and death itself upon Himself and absorbs (Isa 53:4-6).
b. After He raises Lazarus from the dead, plans are set in motion to put Jesus to death. This event cause a rift among everyone: some believed, but others want to see Jesus dead. Dig deeper: there is no middle ground, we will all fall in one of these two camps (Luk 11:23). Examine yourself to see which camp you are in.
c. Why would this infuriate the people? Because if Jesus can do this, then He is God, which means that we owe Him everything.
3. Jesus solves the supposed conundrum between God’s goodness and God’s control of all things.
a. Jesus was in control the whole time, and He was deeply moved by and entered into suffering.
b. All of the complexities of our lives find their answer in the resurrection of the dead. 1) When we are raised on the last day, then we will have an understanding of why. 2) The life we live now is like the prelude in a music set. Most of our existence will be spent in eternity, not the prelude. In the resurrection the glory of God will be so captivating that we will puzzle over why things here meant so much to us. Dig deeper: What things here do you allow to rob you of your peace and joy in Christ? Read Col 3:1-4, Phil 4:4-8.
Conclusion: The resurrection of the dead is God’s answer to the perplexity we see of God’s being both good and in control in light of suffering, grief, and death. God in Christ does not just observe these things, but He takes them fully into Himself. This means that we can trust Him and must worship Him for only He is worthy of our worship.