Lazarus: the grave and the glory.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

The following material is from a message I preached in Liberia, so it’s more a collection of bible verses arranged under headings, mostly from John 11: 1-44, than a lot of my own thoughts. Which has to be good, really…

The purpose of Jesus’s ministry was to see  the Kingdom of Heaven established on earth through the church, and the account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead is a picture of exactly that: the Kingdom coming on earth; life overcoming death. In it we see two ways of thinking : the earthly way, represented by Martha and Mary, the disciples, and the Jews; and the Kingdom way of Jesus. We’re going to consider these two, remembering that the Word tells us that if we want to see the “good, pleasing and perfect will” of God, we need to be renewed in the spirit of our minds…

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

Some aspects of earthly, or carnal thinking.

1) Earthly thinking wants to hold on to circumstances as they are

Verse 21: “ Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (Martha)
Verse 32:  Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (Mary)
Verse 37 “And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” (Some of the jews)

2) Earthly thinking sees the problem

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days. (Vs 39)

“Rabbi, lately, lately the Jews have sought to stone you, and are you going there again? (Vs 8)

3) Earthly thinking cannot believe the word of God

“I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (vs 15-16)

4) Earthly thinking knows the doctrine, but it’s all head-knowledge

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (v 24)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (v 25-27)

Martha knows about Him, but hasn’t grasped that the resurrection itself and eternal life itself are standing in front of her.

5) Earthly thinking depends on someone else

“If only you had been there…”
If only xxx was still here…
If only the leaders would sort this out…
If only an evangelist would come to our town…

Some aspects of Kingdom thinking

  1. When earthly thinking sees the problem, Kingdom thinking sees the glory of God:

“Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (vs 3-4)

2) Kingdom Thinking walks in a different dimension; the dimension of the Spirit:

 “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. (v9)

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14)

3) Kingdom Thinking knows Gods protection
Again, “Are there not 12 hours in the day …” (v. 9 – in response to the threat of being stoned)

4) Kingdom Thinking knows that Father has heard our prayer:
 “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me…” (vs 41-42)

5) Kingdom Thinking operates out of faith
“Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (v 40)

How do we change our thinking and renew our minds?

1) Know “The resurrection and the Life” personally.
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10)

This is the most important point of all. It’s one thing to know about Jesus; it’s something else entirely to know Him personally and have a relationship with Him as one of His disciples. So the first question is this: Do you know Jesus yourself? Have you been born again of the Spirit of God? As Jesus put it Himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, except anyone be born from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God.”” (John 3:3)

2) Know who He is in you
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom 8:11)

Christ in you, the hope of glory” (col 1:27)

Bible hope is the expectation that something will happen; certainty, not wishful thinking. One of the most telling examples of New Testament “hope” is in Romans 8 20-21: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that  the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” God didn’t have His fingers crossed when He brought death into the world: He knew for certain that His plan for redemption would be fulfilled.

Jesus was certain that God’s glory would be manifested at the tomb of Lazarus. ““This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.” Through Christ in us we have this certainty of coming glory, and through faith we can make this a reality in our present lives.

3) Hear what He says in the Spirit

Know that “my sheep hear my voice.” Not just my leaders, not just my prophets, not just the man who is preaching, but my sheep. All of them. Learn how to recognise His voice and believe what He says, because faith comes from hearing. Jesus knew what was coming because His Father had told Him.

4) Instead of wanting to hold on to what you’ve had, look forward to what God is going to bring.

“Didn’t I tell you that you see the glory of God?”

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of what we need to do in order to renew our minds and move towards resurrection life, but it illustrates an important principal of discipleship: we can either stare at life’s tombstones, or we can be like Jesus and look for the glory. The decision is ours.

One thought on “Lazarus: the grave and the glory.”

  1. Remember:
    Faith without works is dead. We do not receive Salvation until Jesus returns. We must endure until the end.
    If you were ‘saved’ 30 years ago, you are not safe from the lake of fire. As in Pilgrim’s Progress, there is a road to Hell from the gates of Heaven. We can fall from grace by our own actions (nothing can separate us from God – apart from ourselves).
    The Holy Spirit is within us and we are in Christ and the Lord God Almighty is Sovereign.


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