Letters to the Prison - Week 128

Hello, everyone.  We’re continuing our study of John 11.  Last week, we saw Jesus “deeply moved and greatly troubled…” even weeping (John 11:33, 35).  This would be consistent with what Isaiah prophesied about him (Isaiah 53:3).  For further reading, check out the “servant” predicted in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and consider how Jesus fulfills what Isaiah predicts.  Meanwhile, we’ll continue our study of John 11.
As Jesus draws near to Lazarus’ tomb, it’s important to recognize some things.  First, Jesus had to ask where Lazarus was laid (John 11:34).  We know already that Jesus was at least a day’s journey out of town when Lazarus died.  Further, when Jesus arrives at the tomb, we see that it has been sealed with a stone and we’re reminded that Lazarus has been dead four days.  Martha, ever practical, adds to this reality the fact that her dead brother’s decomposing body now stinks (John 11:39).  Jesus then asks the people gathered to remove the stone from the tomb.  He never touches the tomb or Lazarus’ body, for that matter.  There are public and objective eyewitnesses to all these facts recorded in this account.  Why is this important?  So that those who are skeptical about this event can see that there is no room for any sort of “theatrics.”  This wasn’t a staged event.  Lazarus is not pretending to be dead.  Jesus isn’t putting on a show.
He is, however, putting something on display:  The glory of God.  Look what he says to Martha:
•“Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”    -John 11:40
Then, to God, so that the crowd can hear:
•“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
-John 11:41-42
What person ever would speak this way?  Consider what Jesus has said in these three simple verses:  Jesus calls God his Father yet again.  He claims that those who believe in him will see the glory of God.  He claims that God always hears him.  Not in the sense that God, being all-knowing and present everywhere, hears everyone.  Rather, Jesus claims that God always hears him in such a way that God inevitably fulfills everything Jesus ever asks of him.  Jesus is so certain of this reality, in fact, that he already assumes God has heard him and thanks him for it.
Friends, we’d like to encourage you to take note of that last claim.  Write it down and commit it to memory.  There will be points going forward in our study where this profound and stunning claim will become so vitally important to us.
Jesus makes these claims publicly in the presence of two kinds of people:  Those who believe in him and those who don’t.  And his purpose for making these claims is so that everyone may believe in him.  “May” is a big word.  We read these claims and we’re about to see how Jesus backs them up so we “may” believe.  But will we?  
That is the main question that everyone needs to answer.  What is your answer?  Do you believe?
We hope your answer is yes.  We love you.  Until next week.

Dean A.

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