By Rev. Samuel Wansley (John 11:11-26)
The bible tells us that faith is based on the premise that we have evidence that these things will occur and we believe that these things will happen. Faith is what we’re hoping for and believing in without any visible evidence or substance. There are situations that can be easily be predicted and there are impossible situations that require evidence before we accept them as truth. An unpredictable situation would be seeing someone walk on water in a storm or seeing a man speak to a storm and it calms down. Even with evidence of an eyewitness account, many still find these situations hard to believe. Some unbelievers ask Christians ‘how can you possibly give your hard-earned money to a church and pray to a God you cannot see. From their perspective, the odds against that being possible are unreal. My answer is a question. How can you believe you have a chance of winning a game where the odds of winning the jackpot is 1 in 292 million? And yet you give a few dollars towards winning every week? The odds are impossible!
When Jesus is faced with a situation that the very forces of nature say are impossible then
something out of the ordinary is about to occur, something that is not natural, something that is supernatural. There is enough verifiable evidence that would lead even the most skeptic “doubting Thomas” to believe that if Jesus was presented with an impossible situation, the very laws of nature would bend to his will. Any believer in God needs no other evidence than the fact that the Bible says it. However, there were some circumstances where the doubters were among Jesus’ closest friends.
In the John 11, three people that Jesus loved had an impossible situation that could only be solved by Jesus. Mary and Martha sent for Jesus because their brother Lazarus was gravely ill. Now Jesus loved these three people. I know this is because it is stated emphatically in John 11:5 that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Even though Jesus loved Lazarus, He did not come right away. When He finally decided to go, Jesus said, “I’m glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe.” He wanted them to believe in the impossible.
When Jesus arrived, the first word out of Martha’s mouth was “if.” “If you had been here our brother would not have died.” That very word means doubt. If carries a condition with it. Martha’s doubt and condition was “if” you had been “here” our brother would not have died. Martha was placing limitations of the power of Christ.
We are the same way. If you hadn’t waited so long things would be different now. If you had come to me in my darkest hour, things would be better now. If you loved me like you say you do. If you had just answered my prayers, my mother would still be here. If only you had come when I called you…if , if, if. And Jesus said, “I’m glad I wasn’t here so that you will believe!!! (So that when I do arrive there’ll be no doubt about my power.) He knew that Martha would need more evidence of His power.
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make us look to God for help. Sometimes it takes a situation that we have no control of to make us come closer to the Lord. Sometimes he has to say no to us before we can say yes to him. Sometimes we have to go through something before we truly believe. Then He can get our attention and increase our faith.
Jesus began to teach the doubters. It states in verse 23, “your brother will rise again…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.” After confessing her belief Martha went and got her sister Mary. The hurt Mary, the disappointed Mary, the disillusioned Mary, the Mary who apparently had lost her faith. The Mary who had anointed His feet and hair, but had refused to go and meet Jesus because He had arrived too late to save her brother.
“Jesus is looking for you,” Martha said. He’s looking for those who need to see his power so that they can believe. He’s looking for the doubters who sit on the edge of faith but need a little more evidence. Mary got up and ran to see him, followed by the ones who had come to mourn with them. She ran crying to Jesus sadden by her brother’s death. She was also sad that Jesus, who loved her brother and had the power of life, was not there in her darkest hour. She ran weeping to Jesus, fell at his feet, and cried the very same words that her sister had just uttered. “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.”
Have you ever felt this way, that the Lord is too late? You’re too late to prevent this sadness. You’re too late to prevent this death. You’re too late to stop this addiction. You’re too late to prevent the abuse. You’re just too late Lord. Let me share something with you. God is never too late. He wants to gets your attention so that the glory of God could be shown through your faith. One of the mistakes that doubters make is believing that once they see miracles, they will have faith. But miracles do not create faith, faith creates miracles.
Mary said, you’re too late… and so she cried. When Jesus saw all the mourning, the bible says Jesus wept. Scripture says that he groaned in his spirit. The Greek word for groan means, anger and outrage. Jesus was angry because the mourning of the people demonstrated unbelief and had no faith in the power of God. He cried because he knew they were reacting to emotion.
Lazarus was lying in a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. But Jesus said, “Take away the stone!” Remove all doubt, remove the uncertainty, remove the suspicious, take the blindfolds off and see the power of God. Take away the stone of prejudice, the stone of ignorance and the stone of unbelief.
There will be times when God will require some effort on our part to work his miracles in us. Times when we have to obey Him blindly. There will be times when only your faith, the evidence of things unseen will eliminate the pain you feel. Jesus said repeatedly throughout the scriptures, “you are healed by your faith; your faith has made you whole.” Faith without works is dead. Without faith, it’s impossible to please Him. Act on your faith. Faith is what Christ is looking for.
Martha still expressed doubt when they got to the tomb. She said, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” I can just imagine that in her mind she was saying, I don’t know what you’re going to do, I don’t know why you wanted to come to this tomb, but whatever you do it’s gonna take a miracle! Then Jesus reminded her of what he had said. “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you would see the Glory of God?” Jesus reminded her of His promise. Remind yourself and sometimes remind God, that you remember the promises He made.
Once the stone was rolled away, Jesus stood in the silence of anticipation, in the middle of the sorrow and the tears, with all eyes on him. They all stood there wondering what he would do and at the grave site He began to thank God. “Father I thank you that you have heard me. And I know that you always hear me but because of the people who are standing by I said this that they may believe that you sent me.” This is more evidence of the Power of God at work in Christ Jesus. “Now when he had said these things he cried with a loud voice. Lazarus, come forth!”
And Lazarus walked out of that tomb. He walked out of the darkness into light. He walked out of death into life. Lazarus was dead but just like the Lord breathed into dust and man became a living soul, he shouted life into a dead body.
“I am the way the truth and the life…”DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? Humans are creatures who believe when they see, Jesus calls on us to see because we believe! Miracles do not create faith, faith creates miracles. The order of faith is this; if you will believe you will see. All throughout the bible we see the miracles of faith. “if I can touch his cloak…woman your faith has healed you” “I want to see…your faith has healed you. “paralyzed man…the faith of your friends has healed you” “All things are possible to him who believes.” But by the same token, “He could not do many of His mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
This is heaven's law through the grace of God, He that believeth shall see. Do you believe?