Sermon – December 15, 2019

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John 11:1-16 – The Strange Love of Jesus (mp3)

Pain is a part of life. This world is filled with sickness, sorrow, and at times it is hard to understand why. Why doesn’t Jesus intercede? Why doesn’t he, sovereign as he is, stop it? John 11 is a picture of our salvation, and a picture of Jesus’ sovereign control over the world. We get some insight, for those with the faith to see, why the world looks like it does, and why Jesus delays in his salvation. Friends, it is out of love, not animosity, not apathy, not anger, that Jesus delays. Today, as we focus in on this important text and this wonderful miracle, let us consider the strange love of our Savior.

1. The longing for a savior
We live in a fallen, sinful world. Many of us, in one way or another, long for a savior to come and help. Lazarus clearly needed help; sick and nearing death, he needed a miracle. The sisters needed this miracle as well; they must stand by helplessly watching while their brother dies. The disciples needed help; they didn’t understand the choices or actions of Jesus. We are often, or always, in these categories. We are sick in our sins, which leads to our death. Death always circles in around us, affecting our lives and giving us sorrow. And we don’t understand why. We need a savior; we need Jesus.

2. The logic of the savior
But often we don’t understand why Jesus acts the way that he does. Here, it is clear that the disciples don’t understand the decision to leave. If Lazarus actually sleeps, he is likely getting better and there’s no need to risk lives by heading back to where Jesus barely escaped stoning. If he is dead, what good does leaving do? But Jesus’ logic is different; he knows that to walk in the light of God, and thus in his own light, one is much better off than otherwise. There is no safety, no matter how appealing, outside of God’s will. It is all a stumbling in the night.

3. The love from the savior
Thus, driven by that logic and by the longing of his people, Jesus leaves. But why wait two days to do so? Wouldn’t it be better to have gone immediately? No, for in waiting, Jesus cures all of the problems above. He will demonstrate the grandness and the greatness of his power. All his talk before the disciples is not mere metaphor about being the light, bread, and water of life. He really is that, and in seeing the resurrection of their friend, the disciples will believe. The sorrow of the sisters will be turned into richer joy than they otherwise would have known; the bitterness of loss makes the sweetness of the reunion even sweeter. And Lazarus dying is the only way to show us the desperate need we have of our own resurrection. We are not in need of some intervention; some medicine or more exercise. No, we need a miracle, a coming alive of the dead. That is something that only a Savior, that only Jesus can give. And, praise the lord, he will give to those who call upon him!