Funeral Wisdom (John #33)

Text: John 11:11-17

When the life of the body comes to an end, it has a way of distilling things down to what they are.  Death has a way of bringing clarity and focus to one’s life.  If there is hope, that hope becomes more and more real.  If there is no hope, that hopelessness becomes more and more empty and mocking.  If there was a hint of religion, suddenly there is a rush of religion.

Lazarus’ funeral teaches me the resurrection is not an event, but a person (vss 11, 24-25)

  • The resurrection sets Christianity apart from all other beliefs, philosophies, religions, etc…
  • Fascinating thing about Biblical Christianity is that Jesus’ death is recorded and the disciples all kind of go back to the old life briefly, as you would expect of people who didn’t know what else to do.  But then Jesus’ resurrection becomes public knowledge and the disciples go on to live out their lives as martyrs for the gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Philippians 3:7-11 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, If, by any means, I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
  • Resurrection more thoroughly proved than any other person in history
    • Resurrection authenticates who Jesus Christ is; declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.  Proves the truth of Christianity
    • Eyewitness testimony
    • Scoffers couldn’t deny he was no longer in the grave (Matthew 28:11-15)
    • It is celebrated as an event by many people who don’t know the resurrection.
    • The resurrection is not something we have to rely on archeologists to find out about.  We are in this room today because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 Lazarus’ funeral teaches me that death highlights your relationship with Jesus Christ (vs 11)

  • Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go, that I may awake him…
  • It it fascinating to hear what people believe they will do before God after death.
    • That somehow they will make their case before God about how good they were
    • There is no standing before God to make a case for anything.  In fact, the only thing that matters at this point is Lazarus’ relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • How one dies indicates their relationship with Jesus Christ
    • last words of saved –
    • last words of unsaved – Voltaire and his nurse
  • I don’t understand the purpose of a religion that gives no assurance of eternal life

 Lazarus’ funeral teaches me the right perspective of death (vss 11-12)

  • Death as a sleep
  • Not soul sleep.  Some religions will call death a soul sleep.  That’s not Bible.  It is a body sleep.
    • 1 Corinthians 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

Lazarus’ funeral teaches me that death is often misunderstood (vss 12-13)

  • Jesus is speaking of the nature of death of a believer, but the disciples don’t understand the description.
  • Much like people, we don’t understand death.
  • It happens to everyone, but we are always surprised when it happens.
  • Why did God take him?  Why did God take her?
  • Enoch was taken because God was pleased with him.
  • Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.  He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

 Lazarus’ funeral teaches me that death precedes the resurrected life (vss 14-15)

  • shows you death in light of the glory of God
  • The resurrected life must be preceded by death
  • the power of God is in direct proportion to the weakness of the flesh

Lazarus’ funeral teaches me that death is a grief

  • cynicism and pessimism of Thomas
  • Jesus says that he was glad he wasn’t there so that Lazarus would die and the disciples’ belief would be strengthened.  So Thomas snarks that if death is so great let’s just all go die.
  • Grief is a legitimate spiritual emotion.  Books that talk about overcoming grief or coping with grief.  The Bible says neither of those things, it says Jesus wept.  It says those that sow in tears.  Instead of coping with or overcoming grief, how about accepting grief?
  • Our world has this idea that sadness should not exist and if you are sad, then you need a happy pill.  I’m not talking about being bitter and nasty, but sad and grieving for things that are worth grieving for is a good thing to do.
  • Tears have value
    • To keep this world from becoming too attractive.  If there were no buffer of suffering in this present evil world we would fall too much in love with it.  And we are in love with it enough as it is.
    • To make you run to God.  You can tell the difference in a prayer from someone who has been through real trouble and someone who hasn’t.  The latter is very poetic, lofty, and stale.
    • To equip you for the office of sympathy