HE WHOM THOU LOVEST IS SICK , #633
"Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." (JOH 11:3).
The darker the night, the more clearly the light that shines into this darkness contrasts the darkness. The more the depravity and enmity of Israel was revealed, the brighter the testimony of our Saviour's works became.
Now, Jesus had told these people who took up stones to throw at Him and to destroy Him in JOH 10:33-38, "The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him."
When Jesus said, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not." He pointed out the undeniable evidence of His calling, of His commission, was His works. He came to do the work the Father had given Him to do, and He said they were not to believe Him if He did not do the works of His Father.
Lets look to the previous verses to keep this in context. Jesus said in Verse 36; "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" In the verse before that He says, "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken."
In other words, Jesus is saying, "If I do not do the works of my Father; if I am not fulfilling that which was written of me, and the scriptures cannot be broken, then dont believe me. But, if I do, though you believe not, believe the works that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in him."
The testimony that our blessed Saviour gives is sealed with the authority of the Word; He beseeched them to believe the truth of the gospel. If what He does, does not correspond with what He says, dont believe Him. Then He would be a reprobate, but if He does do the works of His Father, even if you dont believe what He says, believe because you can see the works.
In this chapter that lies before us, Jesus has given them a clear manifestation of His deity, which His wonderful works from eternity established, and we see the depravity of Israel being revealed. The more light we receive, the greater the contrast between light and darkness.
In the evening when it is just turning dark, you see fairly long distances but you dont see clearly, but on a night of the new moon when there is black darkness, you can see a light from miles away. That light is such a contrast to the darkness. The Lord Jesus is showing you and me how the light of Christ is such a contrast to the rebellious, ungodly, unfeeling character of the scribes and the Pharisees and of the Jews. Their rebellion becomes so manifest as a result of the revelation of His light that He shows His unconditional surrender to the perfect will of the Father. Before He would let one jot or one tittle of the law fall, He would fulfill that part of the law as He did in the Garden of Gethsemane, sealing it with His own blood. Upon the cross Jesus sealed the perfect will of the Father with His own blood.
We are talking about here how His works are so manifest, are so undeniable. Now in chapter 11, what does the Lord Jesus do but He again shows the power, His deity and He shows again such an undeniable proof that He is the Son of God.
Look at JOH 11:4. "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." In other words that there would be such an absolute, undeniable proof that He was the Son of God, and how did He do that? We see what He told Martha in Verses 22 to 26, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection [See how He is pointing out His undeniable proof that He is the Messiah], and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
For the glory of God, and that the Son of man might be glorified, He allowed Lazarus to die that He might raise him again and manifest the power, not only of God, but that He was the Son of God. Now this light shines in that dark nation of Israel that they will be without excuse in the Day of Judgment. When the light of the gospel shines so clearly into our soul, and we yet tramp upon the Word of God, the light of that gospel in the Day of Judgment will become a consuming fire in our soul because we have sinned against such knowledge. This is the message the Lord Jesus is teaching in this chapter. They were sinning against knowledge in response to this clear manifestation of His deity.
He manifested in JOH 10:37-38 that He was the Son of God, and in response to this clear manifestation of His deity, which was established by His wonderful works, they saw enmity. We see the depravity. We see that Israel was revealed for who they really were. How? In JOH 10:39 we read, "Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand." They were going to take Him to the Sanhedrin so He could stand trial and slain for blasphemy.
Even after such deliberate rejection of the evidence of Jesus' Messiahship, and after the end of His public ministry, our Lord now sets the stage for His mightiest work, the most wonderful miracle of His entire ministry. There was only one greater wonder and that was laying down His own life and taking it again. He showed that He was the resurrection and the life.
By raising Lazarus from the dead He not only revealed His deity, but He revealed that He was the resurrection and the life.
In JOH 11:25 we read, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection [not will be, "I am"], and the life: he that believeth in me [the pivot point of the gospel], though he were dead, yet shall he live."
JOH 3:16 tells us of the love of the Father in giving His Son "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here Jesus is talking about those who believe in Him. Can we say we are believers in Him and slight the least of His commandments? Can we say that we believe in Him and have no reverence for His will? If we do, we are unbelievers. We believe in Him "though he were dead." In other words we are naturally born spiritually dead, but we shall live. He will remove the deadness and the darkness of our hearts.
Lazarus, the man whom our Saviour loved, is identified as being "of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha." Thats quite significant. The Lord has His map, where He identifies His terrain, and it is not by the great men of the world or by who is famous. Bethany on His map was the place where Martha and Mary lived. Why? They were two people whom He loved dearly. He loved Lazarus. Bethany was identified on the Scriptures map as the place of Mary and her sister Martha.
Now, even though these sisters were not previously mentioned in this fourth gospel, that which is recorded at the close of Luke 10 sheds much light upon the significance of John 11.
Take notice in LUK 10:38. "Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house." This is most significant. I want you to see why. The one they called a Samaritan Jesus was not literally a Samaritan. He was of the tribe of Judah and grew up in Galilee, the man of Nazareth, was hated, was despised, He was rejected of men. What did Martha do? She received Him into her home. What does this reveal to you? This reveals to you that she had a place for Him in her heart. Why would she receive such a despised and such a rejected person into her home? There were very few homes open to the Lord Jesus. He was "despised and rejected of men."
The very parentsI want you to take this and fit it on for sizeof the man born blind would not identify with Jesus, much less bring Him into their home, even after He had wrought such a miracle upon their own son. He had performed a miracle of giving him sight after he was born blind and yet they would not even identify with Him, much less bring Him into their home.
In JOH 9:21-22 we see the Jews and the scribes and the Pharisees questioning the parents of the man born blind: "But by what means he now seeth, we know not." They lied. Their son had told them that Jesus had anointed his eyes, that He had told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam and that he would see.
They said, "We know not who hath opened his eyes: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself." They wouldnt even acknowledge the wonder that had been performed on their own son.
I want to show you why. Just read the next verse. "These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews [why?]: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue."
Do you see why it is significant that Martha received Him into her home? Not only did she publicly confess and identify with Him, but she also took Him into her home as one whom she loved. That is very important to you and me. Does the world know that we love Christ? Does the world look in our home and see Christ in our home, or do we try to ride the fence and have a religion that we can please the world and God too? No. Thats what the parents of this blind man were doing. They wanted to remain in the synagogue. They wanted to remain in good graces with their friends. They wouldnt stand the shame that their own son was willing to take by identifying with Christ; they would be put out of the synagogue to stand for the truth. These things are soul-searching because you and I need to examine our hearts. Do we see the love of Christ in our homes? That is what identifies He is in your heart.
Jesus said, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not" in JOH 10:37. Receiving Jesus into her home was evidence that she had received Him into her heart. However, it is significant that Martha and Mary are distinguished. Now we see that Martha loved the Lord Jesus. She received Him into her home. She received Him into her heart. Yet this same chapter of LUK 10 shows such a distinction between Martha and Mary. We have two beloved sisters and they both loved Jesus dearly, and yet they are so different, as we see in LUK 10.
Notice JOH 11:1-2. I want to show you where they were different. "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)"
Now we not only see a town identified by Martha and Mary, but now we see which Mary. It was that Mary who anointed His feet and who wiped them with her hair. It was her brother who was sick. Now there was a distinction between Martha and Mary with regard to their spiritual maturity. They both loved the Lord.
It is so dangerous to point at the differences between other Christians. If you and I who love the Lord start distinguishing between us and others who love the Lord, but are not as spiritually mature as we are, and then we start pointing fingers and sinning against the One we love, against Christ.
LUK 10:39 says, "And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word." Why was Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus? She saw her sins in a greater degree than Martha did; she was so remorseful over her sins that she was sitting at the feet of Jesus weeping over her sins. She washed His feet with tears and she wiped them with the hairs of her head. What was she doing at His feet? She was hearing His word.
It is blessed when our hearts are made ready that we are able to hear. We are so defensive by nature. We have such a tendency to slight what God tells us in His Word. We have such a tendency to do as the scribes and the Pharisees did--be deaf to really hear spiritually what Christ is telling us.
Mary heard His words. It is indeed significant that Mary's identity is singled out as "that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair" in Verse 2. I want you to see why. Even though it is clear that Martha had received Christ into her heart, Mary had a much deeper apprehension of the glory of His person.
Now look at LUK 10:39-40; "And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me."
Martha, that beloved Martha, was so cumbered over with serving that she didnt truly understand what Jesus was all about. She was not as mature as Mary was. She didnt see the sinfulness of sin in the light that Mary saw it. She didnt have the same ear to hear that Mary had, but she was still a beloved disciple of Christ. I want you to see how the Lord Jesus gives her a little teaching. Martha was so busy about the things of this life and about the serving of the tangible things and she misunderstood where Mary was. She thought that Mary was just neglecting her duties.
This word cumbered means "weighed down." In other words, she was so burdened, she was so weighed down by over-emphasizing Christian service. Christian service is a wonderful thing, but we have to watch that it stays in its proper perspective. Christian service must not cause us to neglect our families. Our Christian service must not go to the point where we neglect our own children. It may not be to the extent that we neglect the true, spirit worship of God. This is what Martha was doing. It is so blessed to see how in JOH 11:2 it says, "(It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)"
We can become so burdened with our serving that we neglect our families. We neglect our own spiritual growth, and especially true spiritual worship.
Look at 1TI 4:16, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." We are cautioned to take heed that we remain spiritually balanced, that we dont get warped out of shape and get out of balance. There is a proper balance in our spiritual service, in our spiritual life, in all these things.
The Lord did not commend Martha for her over-reaction with serving, but He reproved her. I was at a friends place for dinner, and it made me so nervous the way the woman would keep serving and serving and serving that she could not as much as sit down and enjoy dinner with us. I told her, "My dear sister, you have such a desire to serve us and to make us feel so comfortable and to feel so happy. Take time to sit down so we can fellowship while we eat."
We need to understand what Jesus was telling Martha. You are so taken up with serving and you mean it so well, but He said she was over-reacting. He answered Martha with reproof.
Look at LUK 10:41-42, "And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
What is needful? Like I told this blessed sister, Christian fellowship is what we came for and it was not there. Christ says that we are missing the fellowship of Christ with all this serving and having our hearts so bent on serving that we miss the one thing needful, the true fellowship of Christ.
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and heard His words. Now, she wasnt so busy doing all the talking. She sat there with a heart that was mourning over her sins. Her tears were washing His feet, and she was wiping them with the hairs of her head. The Lord Jesus was doing the talking.
Jesus told her that giving her attention to "many things" had distracted her attention for the "one thing needful". This is the very illustration that I tried to point out when I came to visit, to fellowship, to talk about the things of the Lord, and this person was so busy serving, and she meant it so well. This is what we need to understand that the Lord was talking about with Martha. We need to keep a proper balance.
Now, all this undue burden of Martha's was in fact a sign of unbelief. Thats quite a thought. It was actually a sign of unbelief rather than of faith. Do you know why? God's Word so clearly teaches us in PSA 55:22, "Cast thy burden upon the LORD and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."
But she was carrying her burdens herself, alone. She was cumbered. She was burdened. She was so over-weighed with all this responsibility of serving that she was actually walking in unbelief. You see, in true faith we cast our burdens upon the Lord.
That is what Mary was doing. Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. She wasnt primarily concerned about serving Him something to eat. She was being fed. Now there comes a right time and a right place for everything.
We need to sort these things out in our Christian lives. So the Lord reproved Martha by the example of her sister Mary. She came there to complain about Mary, and the Lord Jesus said No, that is where Martha was missing the point.
As Jesus reproved Martha for her unbelief for failing to cast her burden upon the Lord, He used her sister as an example. In LUK 10:42 Jesus said, "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." As He reproved Martha for her complaining against Mary, He showed that Mary had chosen the better part. In other words, what Mary is doing is much wiser than what you are doing. You are complaining. You are pointing fingers. You are being critical of a sister who is really much wiser than you are.
We can become so critical of other people that we fail to see the virtue that they have in them. It is a very dangerous thing to point fingers at where others are remiss on this and this or that. It is like complaining because Mary wasnt helping with the serving. When a person isnt doing what I think is right, I may not condemn that person. The Lord looks at the heart, and as He looked into the heart of Mary, He saw jewels that Martha didnt understand. We have to be so careful in these areas.
A good lesson we can learn from this case scenario is that we cannot minister until we have been ministered to. You cannot fill a full vessel. For example, you have a glass full of water, and you offer me a glass of juice. If you start pouring the juice on top of the water, you have made a mess. If your heart is full of self, there is no room for Christ. As in the glass of water example, we have to first empty that vessel. Now there is room, and we can fill it with something else. When our hearts are so filled with ourselves, we have no place for Christ.
Mary had chosen that better part. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus as an empty vessel, and the Lord Jesus was filling her soul. He was speaking and she was listening. The difference with Martha was that she was doing the talking. She was doing the serving. She was busy. She had all the answers and no questions.
I see another good illustration of this is with the Apostle Peter. The Lord Jesus said in LUK 22:32, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
If you go out when you are strong in yourself and you start telling your brother what he needs to do, something is wrong. You need to first be converted. Do you know how the Lord converted Peter? He allowed him to fall. The Lord first emptied Peter, and Peter became empty of himself; he was no longer strong in himself. When Peter became an empty vessel, the Lord Jesus looked upon Peter He went out and wept bitterly. Then the Lord Jesus said, "strengthen thy brethren."
Now when I come to a brother and I see him doing things he ought not, I can come to him with a weeping heart and tell him, My friend, there was a time that I was strong in myself, but the Lord allowed me to fall. Why? So it would bring me where Mary is. So that I come to Him now as an empty vessel and I come to Him to be filled. Im not so full and I dont have so much to say. Now I need to be filled. And now when Peter is converted, he can go to his brother and strengthen him.
Therefore, the verse preceding our text is significant. Mary's Christian character is recorded as her identity. "That Mary, which " shows how Mary was identified to tell us who it was that said her brother was sick. This identity is there to characterize who was who was talking to Jesus.
In JOH 11:1-3 we read, "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)"
Mark's counterpart tells us why Mary's identity is such in this verse. Gospel of Mark identifies this case scenario in MAR 14:9. "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." It says, "that Mary " who did this because wherever this Mary is mentioned for all eternity it will be that Mary, who anointed her Saviours feet and washed them with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. "That Mary." That is telling us about one who understood her own heart and the love of Christ. Mary was the one who had a teachable spirit. It is that Mary who came to Jesus and said, "My brother is sick."
Do you realize how important your actions are? This example emphasizes the importance of a believer's actions because the Lord sees in the chambers of our heart and the world is looking. We either glorify our Father who is in heaven by our actions or we bring blasphemy and reproach upon His name.
I have confronted so many people about taking Gods name in vain. One man in particular was in his late seventies, and in visiting with him, he took Gods name in vain. So horrible. He so grievously blasphemed the name of Christ, and I asked him, "Otto, tell me why you do this? "
He said, "Ill tell you why," and he started telling me about a certain preacher whom he would see coming down the alley out of another mans house at 6 oclock in the morning. He was over there sleeping with another mans wife. He told me about another preacher who brought reproach; he talked about another person who professed to be a Christian and how he brought reproach. Then he again took Gods name so grievously in vain. He said, "If that is what you call Christianity, I dont want any part of it."
I visited with that man for about an hour and I convinced him that if those hypocrites wind up in hell what comfort is that to you if you are there too? I finally got him to see that salvation is a personal thing and that you and I must account for what we do, and that we do not bring reproach upon Gods name.
I asked him, "If they go to hell for bringing such reproach upon Gods name, what consolation will that be to you when you are spending eternity in hell for blaspheming Gods name all of your life." I talked to that man about 30 days later, and he spent the next hour telling me how thankful he was that I got him to see through that. He went on to explain to me how grateful he was that he understood that because now he had repented. He died shortly after that. I talked to his daughter a couple of years ago. She said, "You know, none of us ever knew what happened to our father, but one thing we know, a couple of months before he died, he was a different man."
I want you to see how the reproach of those who profess Christianity was destroying a mans soul besides bringing blasphemy upon God. This is so important. We have to see how that we now have this identity of Mary, and her works identified her. She was that Mary who anointed His feet and mourned over her sins. She was not that one who was pointing fingers and complaining. It was that Mary who sat at Jesus feet and heard His words. That Mary is the one who came to tell Jesus that her brother was sick.
This is synonymous with what Jesus said in JOH 10:37-38, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not." Do you understand? Do you see the connection with this case scenario that I just explained? The man did not see the works of God in these people, and their profession only infuriated him. If I do not do the works of my Father, dont believe me.
Now what we read in our text is so significant! JOH 11:3 says, "Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." They are not pleading their own love. They are not pleading what Mary had done. They are pleading His love for Lazarus. It is so important that we understand that principle.
The more closely we scrutinize this verse, the more becoming their modesty is. Instead of prescribing what Christ should do they simply acquainted Him with his desperate condition.
I want you to stop and think about something. You may have a loved one, one of your own children, and you may love that child, that your heart yearns for that child even though that child may not love you at all. You could come to that child and express the yearning of your heart about how much you love him. That doesnt mean that child is going to do anything you tell him if he doesnt love you.
The sisters did not come to Jesus pleading their love for Him. They were prescribing before Christ His love for them. "He whom thou lovest is sick."
One of my own children, when she was about three years old, was going into convulsions. I thought the Lord would take her away. Then I understood the heart of a father and the pangs of love that go out to such a child. The Lord Jesus had such love. It was one whom He loved who was dying. It was His love for Lazarus.
They did not request Him to hasten to Bethany to heal their brother, nor did they ask Him to speak the Word, from a distance as we find in JOH 4:49-51, "The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth."
The Lord, at a distance, could have spoken a word and Lazarus would have been healed. They didnt ask Him to do that. Martha and Mary knew what He had done.
In this case it says, "And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth."
The sisters didnt ask Him to do this; they only pleaded His love. Their message was, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." We see the word Lord used. That was the language of believers who acknowledged His deity and authority, for no unbeliever ever so addressed the despised Nazarene.
They said, "Lord, behold." They were arresting His attention to the seriousness of the condition. They said, "He whom thou lovest." This is very significant! They did not plead their love for Him, nor the love of Lazarus for Jesus, but His love for Lazarus.
We must ever bear in mind Christ's fathomless love for us, and not our feeble love for Him. When you and I come before that throne, we want Him to serve our souls. Dont bother to tell Him about all your love for Him. We want to plead His love for us. That is where there is unction and power.
Our love may vary, but His knows no change. The time I spoke about that little child of mine. In such a condition the soul goes out to such a one. If everything is going well and that child out on the lawn playing while you are tending to other things, your heart isnt so drawn out to the child. The love of the Lord Jesus Christ does not vary. That love is an eternal love. That love is from all eternity and unto all eternity. They were pleading His love.
It is so beautiful to see how the message of our text made no reference to the fact that Lazarus was their brother or that Lazarus was His disciple as though He was worthy. They were not saying, "Lord, your brother is sick or your disciple is sick" as though they were putting worthiness on Him; they were pleading the love of Christ.
JOH 11:3 says, "Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick."
They knew that there is nothing as quick at discernment as love. Does anything have a more of an immediate effect on getting someones attention than if you can put a finger on his or her love? How discerning it is. Therefore, their appeal was to the omniscient love of Christ who could relate so intimately to their every grief.
HEB 4:14-16 says, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Now, this word sick in our text implies "deadly sick." In the original it means weakness, or utterly exhausted. They were saying that he whom thou lovest is dying. That in effect was what they told Him.
So the actions of Martha and Mary in their troubles teach us to unburden our hearts unto the Lord in a time of distress. Look at PSA 46:1-2, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." Whatever happens in this life will not alter His love for us.
Where did Hezekiah go when he received threatening letters from his foe? We read in ISA 37:14, "And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD."
The action of Mary and Martha recorded in our text gives us a striking example of how we should present our personal petitions before the Lord. We are not able to fight our own battles, and we shouldnt even try. The longer we try to defend ourselves, the more agony we bring in our own soul. We can just take it and unburden it on the Lord as we plead, "Lord, the love that thou hast for me, that precious love that you showed on the precious cross of Calvary. Do what is right in your eyes." Now we come before Him, not telling Him what to do, but we come before Him pleading His love, and that He will give us wisdom to discern what He would have us to do.
JOH 11:3 says, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." We may not approach God as though He is our servant who must bow to our will. So many people find that their prayers are never answered. Why? They come before the Lord and say, "Lord I want you to heal that man and I want you to do this and I want you to do that." We really want the Lord to be our bellboy, doing our will. Such prayers are not in subjection to the will of God at all. If it was the Lords will that this man should die, the sisters are only pleading His love. They did not tell the Lord to keep Him from dying. They did not come and say, "Lord, speak the word and he will be healed." They didnt tell the Lord what to do. They only came to let Him know, to acquaint Him with the burden of their heart and to plead His love.
Our prayer may not come across as though we are on the throne. It must come from a contrite heart, and it must be on bended knee as with Martha and Mary. Mary had chosen the better par. What was that? She was washing her Saviours feet with tears and wiping them with the hairs of her head, and Jesus said that she has chosen the better part because she was sitting there with Christ serving her soul.
Now, look at PHI 4:6-7, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Sometimes it is hard to come with thanksgiving when we really think we are being abused. Do you know what the word thanksgiving implies? When you are truly thankful, you are saying, "I am not worthy of everything I do receive." That is true thanksgiving, in other words, acknowledging our unworthiness.
Do you know what that peace of God is? That doesnt mean He is going to keep Lazarus from dying, but He is going to give peace in ones heart, accepting the fact that that was His will. PHI 4:7 says, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
When we rightly understand that love of Christ, then we are in unconditional surrender to what He will have us to do. Then we will be able to accept anything from Him without murmuring.
Such a petition is very different from commanding. We do not approach God as though He is our equal. One time I was on a TV show to talk about books, and other people were talking about a ministry. I was sitting there waiting my turn, and someone asked a man, "Would you come and pray for us?" So the man walked up to the podium and he put one hand on the side and he looked up and said, "Well now Father ." He stood there for five minutes telling the Father what to do. I thought to myself, that is abominable. There was not a grain of grace in such prayer. You dont talk to God like He is your equal. You speak to Him as your heavenly Father.
Coming unto the throne of grace with "boldness" does not mean with arrogance. There is a distinction between coming to the throne of grace with boldness and coming with arrogance. With the eye of faith upon a loving Saviour who understands the power of sin is coming to the throne of grace with boldness. Then we see how unworthy we are, and we can weep over our sins like Mary did, but we dont have to let this drive us away because He is a gracious Savior. He understands so intimately every power and every temptation of sin.
As we read in HEB 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy [that is where the boldness comes], and find grace to help in time of need."
The sisters of Lazarus acquainted their Lord with the condition of their brother, centering their appeal on His love for Lazarus. They did not have to remind Him of their love for Jesus. That was already known.
So we see in JOH 11:2, "(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)" She didnt come and plead to Him, "I was the one who anointed your feet." No. She wasnt talking of herself. She only pleaded His love for Lazarus.
In PSA 55:22 we read, "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." These sisters closely followed the principle taught in PSA 37:5, "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."
We must understand that "he shall bring it to pass," in His own sovereign way and time to accomplish His own sovereign purpose. He gave Lazarus a victory over death, but when? After he had lain in the grave for four days. At times it may almost seem as though we would despair of Him bringing it to pass, but He does so in His time, in His way and for His purpose.
In JOH 11:21-22, after Lazarus had been in the grave for four days, we read, "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Her faith had not totally expired even after he was dead for four days. That which Jesus brought to pass accomplished God's purpose, even though they could not understand until afterward. Quite often we will find that we do not understand Gods purpose until we have the hindsight to look back and see what His purposes were. We dont always see it then. The old saying is, "If my foresight was as good as my hindsight I could be rich." How rich we could be in grace if we knew that by looking forward, we could see Gods purposes and the blessed results He has in store for the end. How much richer we could be.
However, the Lord has so decreed, in His own good counsel, that we must walk by faith and that we do not know the future. We can look back and as we look back we see the wonderful footsteps of our Saviour where He has led us and His blessed purposes are often seen therein.
Look at JOH 11:23-25, "Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
It was for the glory of God. Look at JOH 11:4. "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."
Jesus was going to bring a testimony of His work that was absolutely undeniable before His crucifixion. Why? When they did what they did, they were without excuse. When you and I come on the Judgment Day, we will find ourselves without excuse if we continue to harden our hearts in sin. We are having His works as our testimony to reveal unto us the absolute authority of His Word and of His will. Amen.
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