One player in English Premier League, the greatest soccer stage in the world, is having a season of two extremes.
His name is Heung Min Son, from Korea.
He was, only few weeks ago, the hottest player in England.
He broke the single season goal record for Asian player in European leagues, held by Bum Keun Cha.
He was on scoring streak.
Then in one game, the manager made a questionable tactical decision.
Since the team had lots of offensive players, he took Heung Min Son, an attacker by nature, and put him in a defensive wingback position.
Son felt awkward in that new position, and made few mistakes, one ultimately giving the other team the penalty kick.
From then, his play has been real shaky, and it’s not certain that he will even play today.
One event, or a series of events culminating in one instance, can turn one’s life around.
The turning point of one’s life…
That turning point can turn one’s life for better or make one lose everything in one moment.
That’s what happens in today’s text.
Jesus performs the seventh, and the final, miracle that John records, which was raising Lazarus from the dead.
When Lazarus, brother of beloved Mary and Martha, died from his illness, Jesus declares himself to be the resurrection and life, and then proceeds to raise him from the dead.
This is the climax of all Jesus’ miracles and all his ministries.
But this has turned out to be a turning point in the ministry of Jesus…
Because…it was this miracle that caused the Jewish leaders, who already hated Jesus, make resolution to kill Jesus.
We did not read this part, but in verses following verse 45, it talks about how few who witnessed the raising of Lazarus went to tell Pharisees what Jesus did, and they got together to conspire to kill Jesus.
Caiaphas, who was highest priest that year, said – vv. 49-50. “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”
And in v. 53 – “So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.”
Caiaphas’ words are interesting, because he was speaking about killing Jesus in order to save Israelites from Romans, and also to save their position of power.
But his words became, unwillingly, the words of truth.
Indeed, through the death of Jesus, many people were saved.
vv. 51-52 – “He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nations, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”
God is sovereign over all situations, that even through the intents and plans of the evil ones, he receives glory.
Jesus knew that raising Lazarus would result in his death.
But he still went on to perform this seventh miracle.
So what can we learn from this miracle?
What does this miracle teach or signify?
One of the things we notice is that John does not simply say miracle, but he says miraculous sign.
This means that these acts of miracles point to something.
The seven miracles performed by Jesus all have spiritual meanings and teach us who Jesus is.
First miracle was turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana.
This teaches us that Jesus is the true source of joy and abundance in life.
Second miracle was healing the son of a noble man.
It teaches us that Jesus is sovereign over sickness and he alone is the one who can heal our spiritual sickness that came from sin.
Third was healing of an invalid near the pool of Bethesda, who has been sick for 38 years.
Invalid state teaches us that we are helpless in our state of sin.
Fourth, Jesus fed five thousands with five loaves of bread and two fish, thus revealing himself as the true bread of life.
He, then walked on water, showing us that he has power over even nature.
He also gave sight to a man born blind, and showed us that sinners are spiritually blind and can only recover their sight through the power of Jesus.
What, then, is the spiritual meaning of the seventh miracle?
It shows us that Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life, is the one who can make our dead souls live again.
We were all dead spiritually.
In sin, we were all dead and cannot do anything to improve our situation.
As Lazarus’ body began to rot away for being dead for four days, so our souls rotted away and we were without hope.
But Jesus came and called.
He called the name of the dead one.
And as Lazarus heard Jesus’ voice and came out of the tomb, so the spiritually dead people can live again when they hear the voice of Jesus.
This is what the seventh miracle points to.
Jesus is calling you.
Do you hear his voice?
He is calling to give you the resurrection and the life.
If you hear his voice, will you follow?
He is calling us, who should have rotted away in completely separation from God, because of our sins.
Will you hear, obey, and follow him?
Let’s think about one important thing here for a moment.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
But he also called Mary and Martha to new spiritual lives in the process.
Physically, it was only Lazarus who came to live again, but spiritually speaking, Mary and Martha were also called to new life.
And their lives were completely changed.
We will look at how their lives are different in more detail next time.
But what is interesting is that the method of call or method of Jesus approaching these two sisters was completely different.
Let’s look at Martha.
We read this two weeks ago.
v. 21 – “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
How does Jesus respond?
vv. 23, 25-26 – “Your brother will rise again… I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
He gave Martha a teaching, the word of truth.
But what about Mary?
v. 32 – “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’”
She is saying the same thing Martha was saying.
In fact, she says it word for word.
But how does Jesus respond?
vv. 33-35 – “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.”
We are not going to spend much time here, but let’s make one point clear.
v. 33 – “he was deeply moved in his spirit,” and v. 38 – “Jesus, deeply moved again” – the translation is wrong.
For some reason, all translators (regardless of language) translate it as “deeply moved,” but more accurate would be to say “he was indignant” or “he was fuming in anger.”
Is it okay to be angry?
It depends on what one is angry at and how they display that anger.
But we automatically assume that being angry is wrong.
What was Jesus angry at?
He was angry at the sin and death.
But he channeled that anger into something greater.
It is the grace of God to change the bad situation into even greater glory of God.
Coming back, how did Jesus respond to Mary?
v. 35 – “Jesus wept.”
They spoke the same words, but Martha received teaching, and Mary received tears.
Especially in the case of Mary, Jesus knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in few minutes.
So there really was no reason for tears.
But Jesus shed tears.
If it were me, I would have scolded Mary and tell her not to cry.
There is going to be a moment of great joy in few minutes.
But Jesus wept.
Do you see the grace and love of Jesus here?
He shed tears because he is perfect.
He is the perfect love and perfect counselor.
He shed tears because that’s exactly what Mary needed.
Sometimes you need someone to weep with you.
There is no greater comfort at times than to have someone who mourn with you.
Sometimes, you need a solid teaching.
You need a person to tell you to words of truth.
It all depends on the situation.
You need someone to tell the truth at times, and you need someone to shed tears with you at other times.
So Jesus, being the perfect counselor he is, gave a teaching to one and tears to another.
Let me conclude.
Jesus came and met us in the manner best suited for us and gave us the new spiritual life.
But do you know how he was able to give that life?
As we talked about earlier, through this miraculous event, Jesus would soon be killed.
Jesus knew this.
But he went ahead and raised Lazarus anyways.
Put it another way, Jesus chose to die in order to raise Lazarus from death.
In order to call Lazarus out of grave, Jesus went into the grave.
Do you get this grace?
How do you know if God loves you?
There is no way to tell in other religion.
But Christianity shows it clearly.
In order to give us new life, the new resurrection life, Jesus gave up his own life for us.
Do you know this grace and love?
If you do know it, then there is one thing you must do.
Tell others of this grace.
v. 39 – “Take away the stone.”
v. 44 – “Unbind him, and let him go.”
It is up to Jesus to make one live.
But we need to take away the stone and unbind him.
We can do the preparatory work and the work after, by loving that person.
I pray that we all will hear the call of Jesus and understand his love, so that we can partake in the ministry to share the Words of Life to those who so desperately need it.