Monday, April 11, 2011

Sermon outline on John 11:17-53, for the 5th Sunday in Lent, "Not too late for God!"

1. Jesus is drawing closer to the cross—the plot against Him thickens—He is getting too popular, too powerful. What to do?

2. Martha and Mary to Jesus—“you’re too late!” Death is the silently acknowledged victor, and humans are seen as powerless in its face. Yet Martha’s great faith!

a. OT faith in the resurrection: The God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob; Job confesses faith in His redeemer—in my flesh I will see God

b. Trust in Jesus as the Christ, and His power, even before having seen the resurrection

c. Jesus’ great emotion and humanity—tears for Lazarus. Try to scratch the surface of the source of this great emotion: Analogy of an architect of a great city, now ruined. Jesus’ creation overrun with death and sin and suffering. People disbelieving, angry, hurtful, sin-blind, deaths claws tearing into life. God’s heart endured the scorn, pain, sin, insults, etc

3. Grieving at funerals & the Christian confidence in the resurrection—a contrast:

a. Is death the silently acknowledged victor? Do we say “God, you were too late?”

b. Grieving because of love and loss, but with hope vs. hopeless grief

c. Contrast to the false hope of reincarnation—near endless cycles of life, being reborn to suffer for the mistakes of your past life. Ruthless, unforgiving universe. Karma’s debt—no rescue but to try to balance the scales on your own. Only thing to look forward to is the extinction of yourself to escape the treadmill.

d. Bible teaches: conceived and born uniquely—not duplicated or replicated. Appointed for us to die once and face the judgment. Help is from God, there is forgiveness, life can have a meaning and purpose—there is hope beyond death, and personal existence together with the God who loves you and wants you to be with Him eternally. This hope is not extinguished by death because whoever believes in Jesus, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

4. For those who believe in Him He never comes too late. Jesus’ grief again at the tomb. Martha stunned that He wants the tomb opened. Calls Lazarus out. Unbound from death. A Christian can be prepared for their death knowing that though they die, yet they shall live, because they have believed in Jesus.

5. Caiaphas’ ironic prophecy—foretold Jesus’ death and what it would accomplish, but it happened in a totally different way and for totally different reasons than he thought.

a. Rome still took away the Temple and their nation

b. One man died—a whole nation was spared—even more, a whole world

c. The nation, and also the scattered children of God are gathered together to Jesus.

d. The truth of the resurrection was not a vague, general principle, but it was centered in Jesus Christ, the One who holds power over death

e. Lazarus’ resurrection foreshadowed Jesus’ greater resurrection—cave, stone, burial cloths—Important difference! Lazarus is still in the bonds of death, must be untied—Jesus burial linens were left neatly arranged in the tomb, not on His body—He is no longer subject to death and decay!! Our resurrection will be patterned after Jesus’, with a body no longer subject to decay.

Sermon Talking Points:
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1. What motives lurked behind the plot to kill Jesus? Why was He such an offense or threat to the Sanhedrin (Jewish Ruling Council)? John 11:47-53; 5:18; 6:41-42; 7:1-52; etc.

2. What was the Old Testament basis for faith in the resurrection of the dead? Exodus 3:6, cf. Matt. 21:32; Job 19:23-27; Psalm 16; Ezekiel 37

3. How is this story one of the greatest pictures of Jesus’ humanity? What made His emotion so strong at the death of Lazarus? Hebrews 4:15; Phil. 2:7-8; Luke 19:41-44; Matt. 9:36;

4. How do we grieve at funerals? What kind of grief is appropriate? When do we in unbelief silently give death more power than God? 1 Thess. 4:13-18; John 11:21-27.

5. How is the Christian hope in the resurrection different from the religious belief in “reincarnation?” Why does that belief ultimately give no hope, and make everything dependent on our works? How does the Bible teach differently? Hebrews 9:27; Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Job 10:20-22; 16:22; 19:23-27.

6. Why is physical death for the Christian not too late for God? 1 Cor. 15. How is that the ultimate hope and confidence for a believer in Christ? Even better, it doesn’t depend on us and how good or bad we’ve been!

7. How was Lazarus’ resurrection a foreshadowing of Jesus’ own resurrection. What was similar? What’s significantly different? What’s that mean for us when Jesus comes to raise our bodies from the grave?

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