Lesson 84: Jesus and Disciples Talk / Lazarus Raised

Luke 17:1-10, John 11:1-46

A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. This is lesson # 84. Welcome again! We want to begin in Luke ch. 17 and read 10 verses. This was directed to Jesus' disciples and we're assuming he was still in Perea over beyond the Jordan some place. This reminds me of the session Jesus had with his apostles at Capernaum after they returned from Caesarea Philippi. Let's read! Beginning in Luke 17:1. "Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were   hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."
     O.K. in Luke ch. 16 the Pharisees were obviously present during the parables about stewardship. But, here in ch. 17, it would appear that Jesus had a private session with his apostles and disciples. As I said before, Jesus discussed offending little ones or in other words disciples with but little spiritual understanding. You might want to review that session at Capernaum ii} Matt. 18:6 and Mark 9:42. Jesus said, "offenses will come." But, we are to guard against offenses With all diligence. In v.3-4, Jesus discussed how to handle a situation when others sin against us> First of all, point out their error! "If he repent, forgive him." (end of v.3). Now, notice IN THIS there is a requirement on the part of the offender to repent. That involves a mind change AND asking forgiveness. As I said, to be forgiven this is laid down as a requirement. Thus, we need to understand that to be forgiven requires repentance. Now, of course WE cannot forgive sins. If someone sins against us; the word "sin" implies they have broken the law of God. Thus, the requirement for receiving forgiveness of that sin is, simply, repent. If that is done appropriately, forgiveness is promised; but the point in v.3 is, YOU FORGIVE THEM TOO. The point in v.4 is that there is not limitation to this rule. I would construe v.5 as a response on the part of the apostles to the point that Jesus had just made in v.1-4.
     V.7-10 has a great lesson in it. In Rom. 12:3, the apostle Paul said this at a later time: "I say...to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think..." Jesus had mentioned the duty of the apostles and disciples in forgiveness and faith. But, one must be careful not to be puffed up thinking they have performed some special service when they have obeyed. The statement about the slave plowing in the field and then coming in and serving the master is really a parable showing that slaves do not expect any special thanks when they go beyond what is their usual duty. Then Jesus draws the conclusion, which really says it all in v. 10, "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, [i.e. we should say to ourself] We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." In other words this is the attitude we are to have; as the apostle Paul said, "not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought." It is easy for us to take on a holier-than-thou attitude when we realize we have obeyed God. But, that is not warranted. We have only done what was commanded us; thus, we are unprofitable servants. Not unprofitable in the sense we are worthless; but, unprofitable in the sense that we have done all we could, we have done our duty, and thus done all that is required of us at the moment.

     O.K. back up and let's review! Jesus was in Perea, the time was between the feast of dedication, or December AD 32 and Passover, i.e. March or April of AD 33. Jesus received an urgent message from Martha and Mary at Bethany; where Jesus had stayed when he was in the Jerusalem area. The reading is John ch.ll, if you will turn there. We're going to read 44 verses. Are you ready? Beginning in John 11:1, let's read. "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness in not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. Then when Jesus came he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha to Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? they say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved •him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou has sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."

This is the third person Jesus raised from the dead. The widow's son at Nain, The daughter of Jairus and Lazarus. The first two were apparently raised the same day they died. I understand it was customary at that time to bury the person the same day they died. I suggest you turn the tape player off and read these 44 verses once more very critically. Lazarus was raised for a special purpose. It is true that Jesus had grown very close to that family and this Lazarus was a special friend that Jesus loved very much. But, v.4 makes it clear that Lazarus' death was "for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Jesus used the occasion to show clearly that he was the messiah and that he had power of death; so that others may better understand Jesus' death and resurrection and that it demonstrated the power of God, without question. V.8 gives us little more insight into how intense the Jews were bent upon killing Jesus. You'll remember the last time Jesus was in Jerusalem a few week before (John 10:31) the Jews sought to stone Jesus and were going to arrest him but John 10:39 said that "he escaped out of their hand." When Jesus announced to the disciples here that he was going back into Judea (v.7); the disciples were surprised (v.8). Latch on to the metaphor of sleeping in v. 11-16. That figure is used many times later in the N.T., speaking of physical death. V.16 mentions Thomas Didymus' comment, one of the apostles you will remember. Thomas is portrayed as a pessimistic sort of character. His statement in v.16 is connected to the thought up in v.8. When Jesus insisted on going back into Judea, the disciples thought this would probably occasion Jesus' death by stoning. So, Thomas in his own pessimistic way, said to the other apostles and disciples that since Jesus insisted on going and getting killed, "Let us also go, that we may die with him," implying that the Jews would probably cause them to be killed too. You have Bethany on your map, city # 21. V.18 give the exact distance from Jerusalem, 15 furlongs. A furlong is about a 1/8 of a mile. So, 15 furlongs would lack 1/8 of a mile being two miles from Bethany to Jerusalem. Lazarus was a brother to Mary and Martha. Notice that they did not request Jesus to come, they simply sent him word that Lazarus was sick; hoping, I suppose, that Jesus would come. V.19 points out that MANY JEWS came from Jerusalem to comfort Mary and Martha. When Jesus got there, Lazarus had been dead four days; meaning that Jesus waited two days to start and they had left Perea one day and arrived at Bethany the next day. Evidently Jesus did not go directly to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It would appear that he stopped someplace approaching the town and sent a message to Martha who came out to meet Jesus. When Martha came back, she told her sister, Mary, "The Master...calleth for thee." There's another great sermon title. V.31 makes it clear that Martha and Mary slipped off from their Jerusalem company to meet with Jesus. That's the idea of Martha telling Mary "secretly" in v.28. But, it would appear that much of that company followed Mary, thinking she was going to the grave of Lazarus to weep. So, the Jews followed Mary. It would seem that Mary was the more tender hearted one, she and the Jews that followed her came to Jesus weeping. The tears of Mary and Martha brought tears to Jesus, v.35. Jesus was touched by the grief of Mary and Martha. It did not have to do with Lazarus. Jesus' question in v.34, "Where have you laid him?" was designed to take the crowd that had gathered to the grave site. By studying v.38-44 one can derive a good bit of insight into their burial practices in those days. Jesus used every occasion to teach about spiritual things. His comments and discussion with Martha (v.20-27) is a great feast of spiritual thought. When they came to the cave where Lazarus was buried four days before, Jesus said, "Take ye away the stone." Did Mary and Martha anticipate that Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead? I infer the answer is NO! They thought in terms of Jesus' healing; that Jesus could have healed Lazarus if he had been there before Lazarus' death. But as they rolled the stone away from the cave; Jesus continued to teach. Look at v.40, Jesus speaking with Martha, "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" I would assume that even at that point Martha and Mary and others listening were thinking in terms of the last day, as Martha had said in 24. And, as Jesus lifted his eyes toward heaven and made the prayer of thanksgiving; they must have thought that Jesus was praying a simple prayer in their behalf and had no thought of the great miracle that was only a moment or two away. Then in v.43, Jesus cried with a loud voice that could even be heard by the dead, "Lazarus come forth." Can you imagine the emotion in that crowd and especially in Mary and Martha as they saw the grave clothes begin to move and Lazarus began to show life? Tears and screams of joy must have shaken the place. It is my understanding that they wrapped the dead sort of "ace-bandage" style, if that means anything to you. Whether each leg and arm were bound separately, Idon't know. But, Lazarus needed help in freeing himself. As Jesus looked upon Lazarus, he must have thought of his own resurrection from the dead that was coming up only a few weeks away. Can you imagine the contrast in the mood of that crowd as they left that grave yard as compared to the mood when they arrived? Of course, some time or another; Lazarus died again. But, in his reprieve there was a great lesson to the world.

In closing, let's read v.45-46, "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their way to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done." Can you imagine how the news traveled? Everyone undoubtedly wanted to see Lazarus. Immediately he became a great attraction. He and his family sure had a great story to tell. Until our next lesson, have a good day.

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