Series: Why? (Why Me?)
Week of February 17 – 23, 2021
AIM: Students may know that Christ loves us in spite of our disappointment, or His silence.
From the very beginning, God’s ways have not been our ways, and God’s thoughts have not been our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). There is a mystery to God that can never be explained. Someone has said that if God were small enough for us to understand, He would not be big enough to save us.
Many times, when we pray, we do not receive an immediate answer. That delay causes us to wonder if God loves us. We believe if God loves us, there ought to be an immediate response. We expect to hear the wings of angels as He hurries to answer. When we are in trouble and call on our earthly parents, they get busy doing something! They get in a hurry and try to fix things to the best of their ability. But God. . .takes His time. He doesn’t get in a hurry. Have you seen the commercial of the lady sitting on her sofa with her cat and we hear her son call to her saying, “Momma, I fell and hurt myself.” Her response is “there’s a band-aid in the cabinet.” He says, “but I’m bleeding.” After a pause, the mother replies “get two.” Why doesn’t she help?? She is preoccupied with the cat! There are times when we call on God and we think that He is just like that mother – preoccupied! But God…knows more than us and doesn’t answer our prayers our way!
Martha and Mary called on Jesus to help and His response leaves them confused, and (if we are truthful) leaves us confused as well!
A young minister, his wife and four children went to bed one night at their usual time. The next morning the family was made up of the minister, his wife and only one child! What happened? Three of the children had perished when the house caught on fire! Needless to say, the minister and his wife were heartbroken? Heartbreak is an unfortunately common part of the human experience. Many of us have been there, and it is safe to say we all want to avoid experiencing heartbreak again! We feel heart broken when we lose someone or something we loved.
What exactly is a broken heart? A broken heart is:
(1) A state of extreme grief and depression.
(2) A rupture of the heart muscle
When our heart is “broken” we can literally feel a terrible pain in the heart as if something or someone is tearing our heart apart or trying to tear it out of our chest!
In Bethany, there was a “well-to-do” family of three named Mary, Martha and a brother Lazarus. One day Lazarus became ill. His sickness was surely more than a summer cold or virus. . .maybe he had the covid-19 virus! Perhaps he was stricken with a high fever and splitting migraine headaches. As he grew weaker and paler, fear and helplessness gripped the small family. Think how they must have felt. There loved one was desperately ill.
With all their wealth and influence, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were helpless in the face of this silent attack. They became so alarmed in their helpless state that “the sister sent word to Jesus!” When something bad happened to their little family, they desperately cried out for help. They knew they needed Jesus!
- Scene 1 – Situation: Sad
John 11:1-2 (NCV) – 1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in the town of Bethany, where Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2 Mary was the woman who later put perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. Mary’s brother was Lazarus, the man who was now sick.
- Jesus’ popularity has declined.
- At this particular time, Jesus was being rejected by almost everyone.
- He was an unwelcomed guest in most homes
Matthew 8:20 (NLT) – But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
- He was thought to be “mad” and demon-possessed
Matthew 12:22-24 (NLT) – 22 Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see. 23 The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.”
- His own family was even having difficulty with Him at this time
Mark 3:20-21 (NCV) – 20 Then Jesus went home, but again a crowd gathered. There were so many people that Jesus and his followers could not eat. 21 When his family heard this, they went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind.
- But in the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus in Bethany, He felt He could be comfortable. . .
- and at ease
- and loved
- and accepted
- and honored
- and enjoyed
- and trusted
John 11:5 (NCV) – Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
- Jesus’ relationship with Martha, Mary, Lazarus. . .
- He Loved them
- Lived with them when He came to Bethany. But. . .
- This did not eliminate them from having problems, troubles.
II. Scene 2 – Situation: Sickness
John 11:3-4, 6 (NCV) – 3 So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for the glory of God, to bring glory to the Son of God.” . . . 6 But when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.
Matthew 15:25 (NIV) – The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
Matthew 17:15 (NIV) – “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.
Matthew 20:30 (NIV) – Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Mark 10:47 (NIV) – When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Luke 17:12-13 (NIV) – 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Point to Ponder: Jesus immediately responded to these individuals seeking help – but delays when He received Martha and Mary’s request! WHY?
Point to Ponder: Have YOU ever called on Him and He was silent to your prayer? WHY?
- Testing Time
- God test people to confirm their faith in Him.
James 1:2-3 (NKJV) – 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
1 Peter 1:6-7 (CSB) – 6 You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials 7 so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
b) Test you to know what is in our heart
Deuteronomy 8:2 (GNT) – Remember how the Lord your God led you on this long journey through the desert these past forty years, sending hardships to test you, so that he might know what you intended to do and whether you would obey his commands.
c) Test your integrity
1 Chronicles 29:17 (GNT) – I know that you test everyone’s heart and are pleased with people of integrity. In honesty and sincerity I have willingly given all this to you, and I have seen how your people who are gathered here have been happy to bring offerings to you.
- Divine Delay
Point to Ponder: With your broken heart have you wondered in agony. . .
- why is God doing what He’s doing? In fact, what is He doing?
- why has He delayed in answering my prayer?
- have you reacted to the delay by trying to help Him out and speed things up?
- Sometimes God waits in order to allow us time to exhaust every other avenue of help until we realize without any doubt or reservation that we are totally helpless without Him!Did you finally concluded that your situation is impossible and that if He doesn’t help you, there will be no help?Did you finally reached the place where you had no one and no help – except Jesus?
- Then you may be close to experiencing the purpose for His delay, which is to develop your faith in Him and HIM alone!
Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV) – 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 27:13-14 (KJV) – 13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Psalms 13:1 (NCV) – How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you turn your face from me
Psalms 69:3 (NIV) – I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God’
- Solution to handling God’s silence. Remember –
- God does not move according to our time schedule.
- Pray to be more patient , trusting, and dependent upon the Lord.
- God knows and cares about what is going on in our lives.
John 11:7-15 (NKJV)
7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” 12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.
- Scene 3 – Situation: Strange
Statement 1 – “Let us go to Judea again”
- Because of the Pharisees the disciples felt it strange that Jesus wanted to return to Judea.
- Remember Jesus’ popularity has declined and the Pharisees where looking for way to rid themselves of Him.
Statement 2 – “I go that I may wake him up”
- The disciples totally misunderstood Jesus when He said that He was going to awaken Lazarus.
- When He said Lazarus was sleep they thought that Jesus meant “natural” sleep.
- Jesus said Lazarus is dead!
Statement 3 –“Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there ”
- Jesus was teaching His disciples – and you and me – a life lesson. The lesson is this – even when our heart is broken
- be encouraged and know there is a greater miracle than physical healing! It’s the miracle of resurrection!
- be encouraged even if your prayer is not answered!
- be encouraged even if your loved one is not healed!
- be encouraged even if a relationship is not reconciled
- be encouraged even if your financial problems are not solved!
Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) – …Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
John 11:20-21, 32-35, 43-44 (NKJV) – 20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
- Scene 4 – Situation: Serious
- Stressful – “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!
Point to Ponder: The words spoken by Martha, and later by Mary, shows stress in waiting for Jesus! Have you not been stressed out waiting for Jesus to respond?
Point to Ponder: Your heart has been broken by a circumstance and Jesus seems to be late in coming. . .what where your thoughts?
- Jesus, where have You been?
- Don’t You know what we’ve been going through? Why didn’t You answer us?
- Why didn’t You intervene? You could have prevented this death, this tragedy.
- Why did You let this happen?
- Why didn’t You answer my prayer?
- I just don’t understand. . .what did I do wrong?
Notice that Martha and Mary overlooked the fact that Jesus had drawn near to them in the midst of their suffering. He was present in their life, but they did not notice!
- Are you overlooking the fact that Jesus has drawn near to you?
- Are you blinded to His presence by your own tears?
- Are you deaf to His gentle voice by your own accusations?
- Are you insensitive to His touch by your own withdrawal?
While God doesn’t always protect those He loves from suffering or answer our prayers in the way we ask Him to, He does promise in His Word that He will be present with us in the midst of our suffering and pain.
Isaiah 43:1-2 (NKJV) – 1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
Daniel 3:24-25 (MSG) – 24 Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?” “That’s right, O king,” they said. 25 “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”
- Sympathy – “Jesus Wept”
- Why? Because He loves you!
- Your suffering is His!
- Your grief is His!
- Your torment is His!
- Your misery is His!
- And He feels your pain!
- He understands!
- Shout – “Lazarus, come forth!”
- The voice of the Creator was commanding into existence that which had no existence!
Statement 4: – Loose Him, and let him go!
Point to Ponder: What “grave clothes” are hindering your release from pain and grief?
Point to Ponder: What “grave clothes” or bindings of death and grief surround your situation? Grave clothes can be. . .
- Memories of the past
- Fear of the future
- Uncertainty in the present
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Thank God that God is ready, willing and able to remove us from dead situations and can resurrect that which others have deemed dead.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: Assist those you can with the removal of their grave clothes and their dead situations.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Share with others how Christ robbed the grave from a victory for those willing to believe in him.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Yourconsistent and persistent giving helps a grieving community.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: When you find yourself in a dead situation, look to the only One who can make things happen through resurrection or deadly situation removal.
NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: Trusting God Beyond the Grave
SERIES: Why? (Why did God let the worse happen?)
NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT: John 11:1-44; Genesis 3:6-9; Hebrews 10:37; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 15:20; Job 14:1; Genesis 3:19; Hebrews 9:27; John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16; Philippians 2:10-11; Revelation 5:13-14; Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 23:37; Matthew 27:50; John 12:1-2; Revelation 19:7-9