Uncomfortable Questions 2
Why couldn’t He keep him from dying?
Key text John 11
So my boy has hit the why phase of life; everything is met with a why. And because I appreciate an enquiring mind; I have committed myself to answering every one of his questions reasonably if I can. This I must admit this might have been full hearted as after 45min of why sometime all you want to do is say, “it’s because I said so!”
I try and not and often when the questions become repetitive I ask back “why do you think it is?”. This often stumps Nic as he has to actually think about why he is asking why.
But what I love about this phase is the honest inquiring about life; you can see a desperation to grasp as much as he can about as much as he can; he want to know how everything works and why things are the way they are. Some things are a little more important than they should be; like he is obsessed about the age when you can touch a plug. Which we have told him is 12, but this gets a little awkward when Nic walks up to random strangers and ask them if they are allowed to touch a plug. On a side if you want to confuse people and see them flounder over their words; randomly when you meet someone for the first time ask them if they can touch a plug and why?
I must admit it is quite funny seeing people try and squirm out of that question; or just look at me like what am I teaching my kid…
Anyway the interesting thing is that often Nic will ask me questions that I literally do not have the answer for. I just cannot explain. it is these questions that stump us that leave us truly uncomfortable, and so we avoid them.
But again today as we saw last week if we sit with the discomfort God can do something in and through our uncomfortable questions.
One of the most difficult questions I face is not from kids but from adults who ask the most uncomfortable question imaginable; “Why couldn’t He keep him from dying?”
This same question was asked in John chapter 11 in the death of Lazarus. And this is our question for this morning.
So let’s read the first part;
1Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2(This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4When 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.”5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
What I love about this first section is that how often the disciples question Jesus’ motives and His actions; we do the same thing when confronted with great difficult situations.
We don’t think God knows best
Twice in this passage the disciple counsel Jesus on His decisions. Twice the double guess Him. Granted at this stage they were somewhat unclear on the fact that he was God.
But they double guessed Him. The reality is that we tend to do the same thing. We are confronted with uncomfortable situations or questions and rather than trusting in God to do as He says He will or to be whom He says He is, we start counselling God on what He should be doing or who He should be.
Fundamentally we don’t think God knows best. Now I know that we would never admit that; because our theology says that we God always knows best, and that He works for good; this is not a reality of theology; it is a matter of trust.
Do we actually believe it in such a way that it is creating a change in our lives?
I believe God guides us into and through these uncomfortable time so that we might actually believe.
Jesus states to the disciples;
“Lazarus is dead,15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe…”
We jump to the wrong conclusions (verse 17 to 32)
As we continue Jesus arrives at Mary and Martha’s house to find out that Lazarus is dead. Both Mary and Martha jump to the wrong conclusions about what Jesus is actually doing in their lives.
Martha denies the current work that Christ is doing. We read in verse 11:23
23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;26and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Mary Also jumps to conclusions when she interacts with Christ in 11:32
32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
In both these interactions; both Mary and Martha had concluded what Christ was doing; they had made a conclusion on the situation before Christ had even worked.
I find myself doing this often; where I tell God what He is doing rather than in faith trusting Him to do what only He can do; and leaving it with Him to do it.
Not demanding my way; nor negotiating terms, rather trusting in Him to be as good as He promises to be.
God is good right? Well we need to trust God to be as good as He says He is; this is both the power and the demand of faith!
You see the problem about not trusting God is that it doesn’t change God it just robs us of seeing Him as He is.
To add to this
We ask the wrong Questions (verse 37)
In verse 37 the crowd also starts to mistrust Christ and they pipe up and too ask the completely wrong question from verse 36:
36Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Rather than in wonder waiting for Christ to be good the crowd questions Him, and doubts Him. We in our terrible moments do the same.
But I think in faith we should rather stop wait upon Him; this is probably the hardest thing in the world to do when you are in Crisis.
But it is when we wait on Him trusting in His goodness that we see Him for who He truly is.
On a side note; see how Jesus is not some emotionless story point in this story; he see Mary and the crowd crying over their loss and He is moved. And I am more and more convinced that God is moved when we are moved; He feels our hurt He experiences our loss with us.
He is not disconnected and out there He is with us and in us; sharing in what we are going through; Jesus wept!
Let us remember that! I believe He is still connected to His church in this intimate way!
I want to encourage you church today; even though it seems like I have been bashing you a little; we have a God who calls us to come to Him with our questions; good questions that have at their core a trusting in Him to be who he says He is, rather than a doubt in who He says He is. And He draws near to us when we come to Him!
This is the powerful thing about these uncomfortable situations and uncomfortable questions; if we allow them they can be a great tool for us to draw near to God!
If you believe… (40 the rest of the story.)
You will see the glory of God.
Jesus says to Martha and the crowd in verse 40 – 42
40Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice,“Lazarus, come out!”44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
The amazing thing about uncomfortable questions; if they are asked right and if you believe; they can bring us closer to the glory of God.
I am amazed how often I have heard – in this church – how people go through tough times and then can give glory to God for their tough times.
How He shows them His goodness in spite of the trail they go through.
What I find truly fascinating is how He generally breaks our mould of Him during this rough time. Through these uncomfortable questions God shows Himself to be more than we could have ever hoped for or even imagined.
You see Mary and Martha and the disciples had accepted Jesus as the Messiah; but in their mind He wasn’t Yet the Messiah – God of all thing! Redeemer and saviour.
They were still very much tied into the idea that somehow Jesus was a political figure who would meet their personal needs.
Jesus always shows Himself to be greater; because He is always greater!
I have discover that I need to be growing in my understanding of Christ; because I have to admit my understanding of Christ is quite often smaller that He is because my circumstances have not allowed Him to be bigger.
I am relatively comfortable; with a relatively safe existence; and it is only when I am confronted with the true nature of life; when I am forced to reconsider my reality that I am confronted to ask Jesus questions; uncomfortable questions.
But if I am willing; and if I am humble and honest; these questions will lead me to a greater understanding of who He is.
So if we are willing to truly trust God with our lives; and believe Him at His word; if we are honest with ourselves and with Him and allow Him to be God in all of our situations I believe we will see how glorious; how wonderful; how powerful our saviour is!
This week whatever is thrown at you; know that God is at work He is doing more than you can hope or dream of! He will be a wonderful God even if your circumstances are not!