Jesus is Always on Time!
John 11:1-45 

Good Morning from the Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team to all who are reading this message.   What a glorious day to worship God!  

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent and the title of our Message is “Jesus is Always on Time!”  

Our Bible reading comes from the New Testament Book of John, Chapter 11, verses 1 through 45.  This is a familiar passage, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  Mary and Martha call on Jesus to come and heal their sick brother Lazarus.  But Jesus does something very unusual when He receives the message. Instead of rushing right over to Bethany and healing Lazarus, He delays His coming to Lazarus; when He gets there Lazarus has been dead four days! 

Now reading from John 11:1-45:
11 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 

4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” 

8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” 

9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” 

12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 

14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” 

16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” 

17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” 

23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” 

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” 

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him. 

30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 

33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. 

They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” 

38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. 

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” 

40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” 

45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. 

Let's pray,
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the most precious reason to observe Lent with gratitude and praise. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior and Redeemer. 

We are continually humbled at the love You displayed through the sacrifice of Your Son; may we commit to remembering the price He paid as we offer our own sacrifices for Lent.   

May our focus be on You now in adoration and praise. Our hearts are full of deep gratitude for how You’ve worked in our lives.  In the days leading up to Resurrection Sunday, help us recall the many blessings You’ve given us. 

May we let this season of Lent be a time of thanksgiving, rejoicing in our souls to You, the God who saves us. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Of all the miracles that Jesus did, the raising of Lazarus ranks as the most astonishing one to the people of His time. 

According to the traditional Jewish belief, the soul of a dead person somehow remains with the body for three days.  After three days the soul finally departs from the body never to return, and that is when corruption sets in. 

When Martha objects to the opening of the tomb and says, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days” (John 11:39), she is expressing the common belief that this is now a hopeless situation.  

It appears that no one in this story hoped that Jesus could bring Lazarus back to life after being dead four days.  Jesus delayed coming to the funeral to let the situation become “impossible” before acting on it.  Raising a dead person after the body has decomposed is much bigger than healing a sick body.  Jesus was waiting to bring a greater glory to God.   He then breaks this hopeless situation by raising Lazarus from death and reveals the glory of God. 

God’s waiting is not wasting.  When God is waiting in our lives and things do not happen immediately, we need to keep trusting God believing that GOD IS DOING SOMETHING BIGGER than what we expect. 

This miracle is a challenge to never give up hope, even in the hopeless situations in which we find ourselves.  It gives us hope to live our lives knowing that Jesus is there for us. 

But are we living like half dead Christians?  Is our faith something that is buried instead of alive in us?  God wants to bring to life what is dead in our lives. He wants to renew, give life to the dead things in our lives so that they will bring life to the whole person.  Jesus wants to roll away the stone that’s  keeping us from a Resurrection kind of faith. 

The greatest resurrection miracle is the miracle of the new birth, regeneration, being born again and receiving eternal life. When we are born again, we receive complete eternal life. We cannot add anything to the life that God gives us when we get saved, it's perfectly eternal life. 

However, we are born again with grave-clothes that need to be untied. We have grave-clothes of sin, sinful habits, sinful natures.  For example, do we harbor unreasonable suspicions or unfair judgments against our neighbor? Have we spoken uncharitably about another’s defects or shortcomings?  Have we entertained bad thoughts?  Have we watched stuff that as Christians we shouldn’t?  Are we trying to rationalize sin so that it sounds like a good idea or blaming others versus focusing on what we can control? 

Many of us have within us some dead places in our hearts which has been described as attachment to sin.  They keep us from being lively as Christians and need to be loosed. That's the work that needs to be done to our resurrection miracle. 

We have a part to play in our coming out of the tomb and having our grave clothes loosed. St. Augustine said, “Without God, we cannot; without us, God will not.” Doing our part means to cooperate with God. 

Do we believe this?  There’s a lot of difference in   reading and understanding theology, but believing and making it part of our everyday lives is something totally different.  

In today’s scriptures, Lazarus was dead and he was going to stay dead.  He couldn’t help himself.  Martha couldn’t help him. Mary couldn’t help him. The physicians of that day couldn’t help him. The Jewish leaders couldn’t resuscitate him.  Only Jesus could bring Lazarus to life.

Before we are saved, we are all spiritually dead. We were all a rotted, smelly corpse of sinful spirit.

In the same way that no one could help Lazarus avoid death or bring him back to life, no one can bring spiritual life to our souls other than Jesus.  The only way we can have true spiritual life is by dying to ourselves and being resurrected in Jesus’ name.  

How do we know that? 

John 14:6:  “Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” 

Acts 4:12:  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 

Romans 8:11:  “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.” 

If we want to have spiritual life we must go through Jesus Christ. If we try any other way we will just hear the spiritual equivalent of the old Monopoly phrase, “Go to Jail, Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.” 

And, if we do that, we will still be a prisoner to sin and spiritually dead in our trespasses.  We can’t do enough good works to merit salvation. 

We could force ourselves to memorize the entire Bible and read every scholarly Christian book in the world but unless we have been raised to life in Christ it will not help us one bit when we stand before Jesus on “the last day” as Martha put it. 

Just as Lazarus was physically dead in a tomb until Jesus raised him from the dead, we will be spiritually dead until Jesus raises us to new life; the only One who can raise anyone from the dead, spiritually or physically, is Jesus Himself and no one is ever too far gone for Jesus to save them. 

We are in the Fifth Sunday of Lent. This is a time when we prepare our hearts and minds to once more live through the events of Holy Week and Easter, Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is through those events that we are assured of God’s ultimate and complete love for us, and we can know the reality of God’s hope that is ours. 

John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

Jesus is the only Savior for all mankind.  The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   And in I Corinthians 15:22 and 45:  “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” 

Two thousand years ago Jesus came into our world.  He was born of a virgin, tempted by Satan but lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus died on the cross as the sacrifice for the penalty for our sins so that we would not have to be controlled by sin.     

If you haven’t trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do so right now. 

I John 5:13 tells us: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 

Jesus has provided the gift of salvation to us which gives us not only hope for today but hope for eternity.  

In Romans 10:9, we are told that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” 

We receive salvation when we:
(1) Repent of our sins.
(2) Trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.
(3) Confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, invite Him into your life right now. 

Or maybe there are those who are far away from Jesus.  Have you allowed your comfortable, personally focused desires to act as an eclipse between you and God?  Is Jesus obscured or completely blacked out of your life? Do you miss Him? 

All it takes is to open yourself and say "I want things to be different. I know things need to be different. I know what’s wrong, what doesn’t belong and I invite You, Jesus, to come and change me.” 

When we turn back to Jesus in repentance, when we ask for forgiveness, intending to live a godly life, God’s mercy reaches out to us with a message of love.   God is a God of mercy, of redemption, of restoration and of renewal. Just come by faith to the throne of grace to receive it. He is waiting for you with open arms.   Repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life. 

Let’s pray:
Heavenly Father, during this Lenten season, may we all take time to draw closer to You.  I pray that we spend time studying Your Word and that we spend time in prayer with You.  I pray that we use the gifts You’ve given us to serve and honor You.  I pray that we find ways to share Jesus with our brothers and sisters through our words and deeds.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "Four Days Late."