The two tender words in verse 35 (the shortest verse in the Bible), make this quite clear. “Jesus wept!” What lovely words these are!
Here, in this simple record of what happened all those years ago, is the evidence that our Lord does care: He draws near and weeps with us, and He identifies Himself with us in our trials and tribulation, for He knows every human experience of tests and trials. When He was upon the earth, He knew loneliness, sorrow, misunderstanding and physical suffering, He knew hunger and thirst, and He knew weariness and bereavement. He also knew times of tense spiritual testing. So, the hymn writer was right when he wrote: “Jesus knows all about our struggles”. He does! What is your trouble?
Name it, and you will find that the Lord will meet you and mingle His tears with yours. He is “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), He is the God-man, who is sovereign, mighty and glorious in His deity, tender and gracious and understanding in His humility. In all our affliction, He is afflicted (Isaiah 63:9)
3. The third thing which Jesus did was this: He revealed what happens when a Christian dies.
Lazarus really did die. In verse 14, we read:
“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” Lazarus was dead by the time that Jesus came to his grave that practically Martha questioned the possibility, or the wisdom, of his being raised to life. Yes, and not only did Lazarus die, but the process of corruption and decomposition had begun in his body by the time Jesus arrived at the scene.
The point I want you to notice, however, is that Jesus spoke about Lazarus being “asleep”. He meant that death for the believer is just like going to sleep. The poor, tired, sick body goes to sleep in the same way as we go to sleep at the end of the day. We stretch out on our bed, and say, “Goodnight! I’ll see you in the morning.” And it is just like that when a Christian dies.
After the toil and the exertions of work, and the pressure of the day, comes sleep, with its rest and renewal.
When a Christian dies, the body goes to sleep, but his spirit goes to be with Christ. As Paul clearly tells us, Christians are in one of two places. Either they are in the body and are absent from the Lord; or, they are absent from the body and are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5, 6 and 8). Members of God’s family in Heaven and earth(Ephesians 3:15).
Did you ever notice what happened when Stephen was martyred? We read about it in Acts 7:59-60
Yes, he fell asleep: that is, his spirit fled away to be with Christ, but his body fell asleep. How wonderful that was for Stephen! How wonderful it is for the child of God when he dies! He is only asleep, and he will wake up soon, for Paul says:“I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Lord.”
“But”, you ask, “How can their bodies wake up after years in the grave? How can there be bodily resurrection?”
This is a common question, but there is a perfect satisfying answer to it. Let me show you other thing which Jesus did…
4. The fourth thing which Jesus did was this: He demonstrated His power to raise the dead and to reunite spirit, soul and body after death had taken place and corruption had set in.
We must remember that Lazarus had been dead for four days.
“But now”, said Martha, “he stinketh.” This denotes that a miracle was needed. It was not enough simply to infuse new life into the body of Lazarus, for his body was partially decayed. Could Jesus not only raise Lazarus but give him complete physical restoration? Yes, He could!
For in verse 42-43, we read that:
“He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth…”
He came out of the grave alive and whole. That is exactly what will happen to all the “dead in Christ”, that is, Christians who have died, when Jesus comes. They will not have entirely new bodies revived or patched up; they will have entirely new bodies, “like unto His glorious body”, for “our citizenship is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil 3:20-21).
Lazarus was raised from the dead; but later he had to die again, and probably before that, he would have had to experience illness, aches and pains, and possibly disease. But our new bodies will be subject to none of these things, for they will be new bodies altogether.
These are just a few of the wonderful things which Jesus did long ago. Notice that when He did these things,“Many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him.” (Verse 45)
Do you believe on Him? Do you really believe on Him? How much do you believe on Him? How much do you trust Him? If we will read this chapter of John’s gospel carefully, in the light of what we have just been considering, we shall realize afresh what a gracious and loving saviour we have, and we shall be brought to the place where we shall trust Him better, whatever He sees fit to do. We shall enter more into the meaning of Romans 8:28 and John 3:7
And we shall believe in a new way that God is working out His purpose in our lives through His permission of the delays, denials and disappointments which we experience. At each stage along life’s pathways, when sorrows come as well as joys, we shall be able to say, “it is the Lord: let Him do what seemeth Him good.” (1Samuel 3:18). And we shall know that what He does is always for our good, and thus always for His glory.