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Read John 11:1-45

One focus of this story is what Jesus heard from His Father and then carried out. The verses selected below bring out that part of the story.

As a reminder, Jesus taught earlier that He “saw” in the Spirit and in the place of prayer what later turned out to be a sign and a wonder:

John 5:19-20
Jesus said: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what He sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. Yes, and He will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.”

So His holding back, when a report reached Him that his friend Lazarus was sick, was confusing and difficult for the family, but Jesus knew God wanted to bring a sign of His glory and an endorsement of His Son, showing Him to be Lord of life and death itself. To pursue the Father’s purpose, He would have to go against what He undoubtedly wanted to do – be there at once.

5-7 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then He said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

14-15 So then He told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

17 On His arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

38-39 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” He said.

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41-42 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard Me. I 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.”

43-44 When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

What is the message for us today?

Raising the dead is unlikely to be a test of faith for us, not early on, anyway! (However, the pre-world-war 2 healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth is said to have seen more than a dozen people raised from the dead over the course of his ministry, as well as other ‘signs’ that were not dissimilar to the healings of Jesus.)

The message for us is a straightforward one. Jesus heard what His Father was telling Him (and showing Him) and spoke the words He was given to say – with great effect.

How does God bring change, and particularly how does God bring His kingdom order? By which we mean removing the control of the enemy of our souls from a situation, and giving it over to the Lord for His just rule and ownership.

Of course, God can do anything He wants – after all, He spoke the world into existence. But the story told throughout the Bible is the story of His partnership with people. Sometimes they were people with a particular call – the great names we all know. Sometimes they were rather ordinary people called to exercise faith at a particular time, a bit like Gideon.

And many of these used words to convey God’s intentions – like Elijah and the prophet s of Baal, or the proclamations of the prophets.

We can’t speak any old words, tack on “in Jesus’ name” and expect to see great change! But if we discern, prayerfully, that God is saying something which could be voiced by us – we should. In any event, our words of faith agree with heaven and our words of unbelief agree with the “god of this world” – they have power for great good, but can also be destructive.

Actions speak louder than words, but there are times when words are what are needed to impact the spiritual realm, and then, in ways we do not understand, their effect filters down to changes that just seem to happen around us. Not completely different from Lazarus clambering out of the dark tomb: God is always in the resurrection business.

What is the good news here?

What Jesus did, filled with the Holy Spirit, is what we can do – we start small, make mistakes, battle with doubts but we learn how God works in partnership with those who believe Him.

• What is our take-away?

  • What situation has God put on your heart?
  • What is He saying about it? Does this fit with a verse or a story in Scripture? Is there “another witness” like a friend or prayer partner who has has the same prompting?
  • How now will you turn the natural ‘asking’ prayer into speaking out words which relate to God’s purpose which you are discerning?

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