Sunday 19 Nov 2017
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Psalm 1: 2-3

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

Jesus Wept - Bethany the platform for glory

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Bethany the platform for glory

First and foremost, the importance of the venue where this event took place should not be lost on us, because it will help us to begin to understand the significance and the opportunity which the illness and the subsequent death of Lazarus presented for the people who came to mourn him, this event presented to these people the opportunity to experience the glory of God. Bethany was a village in the region of Judea and very near to Jerusalem (2 miles), and Jerusalem was the seat of the Jewish authority, and the people who were in authority at that time were greatly opposed to the authority and Lordship of Jesus. It was in this region (Judea) that they had tried to stone him prior to this incident. Not only did Jesus have a strong opposition in this region, but the level of unbelief towards his message could be said to be at all time high. The plot and the conspiracy to kill Jesus was also muted and hatched in this region (John 7:1, Mathew 26:6-14).

But in spite of the opposition, this was still the place that God had chosen to glorify Jesus as the Son of the living Jehovah and also to confirm his authority over death in addition to his authority to give life to those who would believe in him. This was in line with the declaration which Jesus had made earlier and which drew the ire of the Jewish people (John 5:16-28, 6:35 –58). We can begin to gain more insights into why the region of Judea was of great importance for this event by looking at one of the remarks made by the brothers of Jesus.

“Jesus brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world”. For even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:3-5).

In essence what they were saying to Jesus was that his ministry needed to be validated and this must be done in the presence of the authority and the city of Judea happens to be the place. To them this was the test that Jesus had to pass in order for his claims he has made about himself to become valid. If he could pass this test, then he was authentic. In their eyes and because of their unbelief, Jesus was either an usurper or at best he must be out of his mind for him to be making the sort of claims that he had been making about himself. To them he was a deceived fellow with deceived followers in tow. Therefore the region of Judea would be the ideal place for all of these claims to be validated or exposed for what they really were in their eyes. To them this was needed so that the eyes of the deceived followers will be opened and see that they had been deceived.

While this was the setting in the mind of those who do not believe, this is not the case with God. You see, events in the bible revealed to us that God has always taken delight in using the opposition for his own glory; We see a pattern of this, with what how God dealt with Pharaoh when he refused to set the Israelites free from the bondage of slavery. The scripture also informed us how God humiliated the prophets of Baal through Prophet Elijah. Daniel and his friends experienced the glory of Jehovah ring in the presence of those who were baying for their blood. In addition, the man David testified along this line about God in Psalm 23:6;

“You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies” - Psalm 23:5.

One can therefore understand why he also prayed that God should spare his own enemies that they might witness the goodness of God in his life. I believe this prayer stems from understanding the heart of God especially with regards to how he (God) uses his servants to display his glory. In line with the pattern that I have tried to establish through these references, the appropriate place therefore for God to glorify his own Son was no other place but right in the presence of those who were in opposition to his Son Jesus.

But the question remains why Bethany in particular? To unravel this mystery we need to visit the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha who were sisters to Lazarus, the man in the eye of the storm. The bible recorded that Jesus had visited their home prior to this incident and the reference to Lazarus as the one whom the Lord loves implies that Jesus knew them very well and probably must have been a regular guest at their home. In the light of this information, what we really want to do is to catch a glimpse of what  would normally transpire during those visits, and in order to do this let us see what the scripture revealed to us from one of those visits;

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me. Martha, Martha the Lord answered,  “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:39 –42).

We can see the picture of what perhaps would be a regular feature of those numerous visits whenever Jesus come calling to the home of Martha and Mary, we see a picture of two wonderful sisters who were always eager for different reasons to welcome and receive Jesus into their home. As a result, they would throw open the door of their home to the Messiah to come in. We also see from what the scripture revealed to us that Jesus would in turn use the opportunity to teach them about the word of God while enjoying their hospitality. But I want you to pay close attention to the account that was reported about the sisters, these accounts were given for a purpose, there is an important message behind this.

You see, something else was also going on, as we saw from the actions of the two sisters, one of them was busy or distracted trying to please the Lord through works, the other one had the wonderful privilege of sitting at the feet of the Lord to be fed with the word of life. You may be wondering what is significant about this, especially the one that was privileged to sit at the feet of Jesus, well let us see what Jesus had to say about the words that sister was privileged to hear from the mouth of the Messiah;

“The Spirit gives life; The word that I speak to you are life and they are Spirit” (John 6:63).

I want you to know, that the scenario I have narrated here was no co–incidence neither was the death of Lazarus, this was not an ordinary event that came out of the blues as we would eventually see. You see something was going on in this home, someone was being prepared and equipped for a great event that was to take place in due time, some people were being prepared to play different roles in the event that was to bring glory to the Son of God. All the events that transpired were therefore not accidents; rather the events that preceded the death of their brother Lazarus were all put in place by God and they were for a purpose. The fact is, the script about event that was was to unfold at the grave of Lazarus was written long before his death. You see, roles had been assigned to the respective actors and actresses. The stage was Bethany the home to Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

With the stage long set, the eventful day eventually came with Lazarus taking ill, which subsequently led to his death, but let us walk through the event carefully taking the time to appreciate the spiritual messages which the unfolding scenes brings to us.  To begin with let us debunk once and for all why the mourning of Jesus was not because of what had befallen Lazarus, we would do this by looking the following points.

1- From the minute Jesus was told about Lazarus illness, he predicted what the eventual outcome would be:

When Jesus was told that Lazarus was sick, he told his disciples emphatically that the sickness was not going to end in the death of Lazarus, in other words death was not going to be the end of this matter, in saying this, he was not saying Lazarus wasn’t going to die, but instead he was saying that although Lazarus would die, but this death would not be the end of this matter. You see the end of the matter would be an event that would bring glory to the Son of God, for through the death of Lazarus, the declaration by Jesus that he is the bread of life would be confirmed for all to see.

When he heard this Jesus said “This sickness will not end in death, No it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4).

He came to Bethany for one purpose to demonstrate the power and the glory of God and not to do otherwise. He knew what was going to happen to Lazarus before it happened and he knew why it had to happen.That was why he was not perturbed when he was told about Lazarus illness; rather he stayed back long enough for the death of Lazarus to be certified according to the Jewish customs.

2- He had performed the miracle of raising the dead prior to event (Mark 5:35 – 43).

The position that Jesus found himself with the death of Lazarus was not a strange one, not all, because he had previously performed the miracle of resurrection, when he raised the daughter of Jairus a Synagogue official from death, there was a word Jesus used to describe what they called death at the time. He used the word ‘sleep’ to describe her state.

He went in and said to them “The child is not dead but asleep” (Mark 5:39).

I want you to note that this was the same word that he used to describe Lazarus’s death, he was not playing around with words, well at least to those who can discern the message. We can tell from the use of this phrase to describe what had befallen Lazarus, we could tell what was on his mind, we could tell he was going to repeat this miracle, to declare Lazarus as fallen asleep and not wake him up would expose him to ridicule you would agree.

“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; “ (John 11:11)

This word had profound meaning and once again he wasn’t simply throwing words around, neither was he trying to soften the impact of the tragedy as we will find out later, the reason why this word was used by Jesus. But for now, we know from the scriptures that Jesus went to the house of Jairus and raised his daughter from the dead. Therefore we know that Jesus had the ability to raise the dead. Not only did Jesus have the ability to raise the dead, but he had actually demonstrated the ability before, and for someone whom he loved so much like Lazarus, he had every reason to want to do it again.

Why then would he mourn knowing that he had the ability to raise Lazarus up from the dead? Mourning as we all might know had everything to do with hopelessness and helplessness. We need to understand the position of mourning in the world that we live. The reason why people mourn can be attributed to a cause that is completely lost and irredeemable. But in this case, we see Jesus declared that he was going to Bethany to raise Lazarus up even before he got there. In so doing, he had clearly defined his mission for going to Bethany and the mission was to perform a miracle similar to the one that he had done before. There was therefore no reason to mourn the death of Lazarus for whatsoever reason.

3- He knew the authority that he had and the reason why he had come to earth.

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it” (John 5:21).

Jesus knew the sort of power that was at his disposal and he knew that he had the ability to give life, just like God the Father does. For the God the Father had given to him the authority to give life to whomsoever he deems fit. He therefore knew very well that he could raise the dead if he had to, not only those who are physically dead, but also those who are dead spiritual as well.

You see at the grave of Lazarus , Jesus declared;

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25).

What he implied with this statement was profound very, very profound, Jesus boldly declared that not only does he have the power to raise those who are physically dead back to life, but those who are spiritually dead as well, giving them in the process their life back. And it the case of the ones raised from spiritual death, eternal life. This was the position of Jesus, a position that was well established by the miracles he had performed all over Judea at the time of Lazarus death.



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Psalm 1:1-2
“[BOOK I Psalms 1?41] Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

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