Title:  The Last Enemy


Summary:  Jesus' ultimate concern for people was faith in him as the resurrection and life, because it is only through faith in him that people can escape the last enemy, which is death.  Jesus demonstrated that he has the authority to raise the dead and grant life to those who believe in him.


Text:  John 11:1-54


Scripture Reading:  John 5:25-29



1.  Fear of death.  People handle it in different ways

          a.  From a blog about death:

I Have a Severe Fear of Death  Everyone Has To Accept It.  But I don't want to. My phobia started after my aunt died when I was 13 years old. (6 years ago) Ever since then I have had reoccurring thoughts about dying and what happens when we go. I guess I'm just scared of not knowing what is going to happen after I take my last breath. Does it all end or do we truly reunite with the ones we love in heaven? That is the only question I have. I want to believe our souls live on but I guess I am like all of you and need proof. I get a panic attack at least once every 3 weeks or so. I don't know how it is triggered, all I know is it scares me so much. I begin to get these thoughts like what will happen to me, will I be forgotten eventually, will I even be alive in 10 years, what if I die in one minute because of some horrible sickness I didn't know I had, etc. The thoughts just keep coming until I eventually hyperventilate and pass out. I know we will never be able to stop worrying because the sad truth is it it going to happen eventually, but we all need to figure out a way to deal with this knowledge and live our lives the best we can without worries. Sadly I am still trying to find my own personal way of coping.

          b.  Nederland Colorado hosts Frozen Dead Guy Days, beginning of March

                    - Started with Bredo Mostoel who died in Norway

                    - A family member started cryogenics business, brought his frozen

                       body to Nederland Colorado

                    - Local authorities found out, pass law against storing frozen bodies

                    - Mr Morstoel was grandfathered, so is only frozen body in town

                    - The town started the festival over 10 years ago

                    - 20,000 attend, with coffin races, ice turkey bowling, brain freeze

                      contests, frozen salmon toss, parade of hearses, and beer

                    - For $150, can get personal visit to see the frozen body of Morstoel

                    - Festival director Amanda MacDonald -  goal is "to drink a convivial

                       toast to the grim specter of death or to spit in death's eye."

                    - Regardless - Death STILL COMES

          c.  Some simply try to ignore it and never talk about it

          d.  There are many different ways people deal with death

2.  Death is not a popular topic

          a.  It is the ultimate defeat for all people

          b.  Death is not a conversation in polite company

          c.  When we do talk about it, we use euphemisms for it

                    - Speak of people "passing away" rather than dying

                    - We decorate cemeteries with beautiful flowers and plants

                    - We do all we can to tone down the offensiveness of death

3.  Jesus didn't avoid the topic - get self embroiled intimately with death

4.  Today's miracle story - Jesus meets death head on

          a.  Will focus on what we can learn about life, death, and Jesus

          b.  How does Jesus respond to death here?


I.  Jesus does nothing at first (11:1-16)

          A.  What did Jesus do when he got the news? 

                    1.  v.5 - Jesus loved Lazarus and his family

                    2.  v.6 - Yet Jesus delays two days?

          B.  Jesus allowed Lazarus to die, and stay dead for specific reasons

                    1.  v.4 - He delayed so that Son of God could be glorified

                    2.  v.15 - He was glad he was not there, why? so they can believe

                    3.  No one quite understood Jesus power and authority yet

                              a.  v.12 - If Lazarus is just asleep, he will recover?

                              b.  v.14 - Jesus had to say it plainly, "Lazarus is dead"

                              c.  v.16 - Thomas said, "Let us go die with him"

                                        - Thought that Jews going to stone them

                                        - If Lazarus dead, then that is it, it is the end

                    4.  Jesus' main concern was faith in Him

                              a.  John 5 - Jesus affirms his identity as being one with God

                              b.  John 5:21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and

                                   gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom

                                   He wishes.

                                        - God can raise the dead and give life

                                        - They not seem to get it that Jesus can too

                              c.  So, Jesus delays going to ensure Lazarus is really dead

          C.  ILL:  Sometimes the best thing does not appear to be compassionate

                    1.  Like child struggling to learn to ride a bike

                              a.  Allowing them to fall is part of the process

                              b.  If never let them fall, they will never learn

                              c.  The goal is not to keep them from never falling, but to

                                   learn to pedal and ride the bike

                    2.  Same way with Jesus here

                              a.  Could keep them from any pain, mourning, death

                              b.  But the goal was for them to believe - Most important

                              c.  Belief in Christ is the answer to pain, mourning, death

                    3.   May not seem like Jesus' response was a very pastoral one

                              a.  But he knew what was of the utmost importance

                              b.  It is about faith in Christ

                              c.  John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life

                              d.  Without belief in Christ, there is no life

                    4.  Minister once told me something similar

                              a.  Said he not have lot of patience with whiners and people

                                   who wanted to be coddled

                              b.   Said, "I may not be very pastoral in some people's eyes,

                                    but I don’t' think it is always the best thing"

                              c.  Some did not think he very compassionate

                              d.  There is a time to take training wheels off and let go

          D.  Jesus does nothing, because his main concern was belief

                    1.  He could have shielded them, but he didn't

                    2.  They needed to believe Jesus was God and answer to death

                    3.  So, he waited for two days as they mourned


II.  Jesus teaches he is the answer to death (11:17-32)

          A.  As he said, he has authority to give life to whom he wishes

          B.  Jesus' conversation reveals where they are at in their belief

                    1.  Lazarus in the tomb for 4 days

                              a.  Jesus waited 2 days before leaving

                              b.  Depending on how long the trip took, Lazarus was

                                   already dead 1 or 2 days when Jesus got the news

                              c.  Jewish belief, for 4 days, soul hangs around body

                              d.  4th day, soul departs, no hope, he dead and buried

                    2.  Mary and Martha's incomplete belief

                              a.  If Jesus had been there, could have done something

                              b.  She believed Lazarus would be resurrected on last day

                              c.  Lazarus had been dead 4 days and is buried, too late

                    3.  Jesus' assertion about himself

                              a.  Resurrection?  I AM the resurrection and the life

                              b.  Not "I WILL BE the resurrection and the life"

                              c.  Jesus is saying that he has authority NOW over life

                              d.  Martha didn't quite dare believe this - She believes he is

          C.  ILL:  Do you know what resurrection means?

                    1.  Greek:  Anastasis - to stand up, a bringing back to life

                    2.  Syn:  Reanimate, resuscitate, rejuvenate, restore, rouse,

                         reactivate, recover, reawaken

                    3.  Ant:  Death, expiration, demise, decease, termination,

                    4.  Not talking about a disembodied spirit, but resuscitation of body

          D.  Jesus is resurrection and life

                    1.  If believe in him, will live even if you die

                    2.  See why belief is so important?

                    3.  v.26-27 - Martha not dare believe Jesus IS resurrection?

                              a.  She believes resurrection in the last day

                              b.  She believes that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God

                              b.  But Lazarus dead 4 days, body is decomposing in tomb

                              d.  Doesn't matter, Jesus has authority over life and death


III.  Jesus demonstrates his power over death (11:33-46)

          A.  Jesus makes a speech so all will know it was he who raised Lazarus

                    1.  Why?  So that they would believe

                    2.  Not lose sight of Jesus' main goal here - belief

          B.  Take a deeper look at what happens here

                    1.  The people are all "weeping" -

                              a.  Greek: klaio - To weep vehemently, to bewail

                              b.  Picture the scene, they all wailing out loud

                              c.  Overwhelming sound of being crushed, defeat, finality

                    2.  Jesus is "deeply moved" in v.33 and v.38 and "wept" v.35

                              a.  Why different word for Jesus: - dakruo - shed tears, weep

                              b.  He wept when he was "deeply moved" - embriaomai

                                        - Originally used for horse "snorting"

                                        - Def: To be indignant, stern, scold, censure

                              c.  Jesus' tears are tears of indignation, maybe some anger

                                        - Some commentators puzzled by this

                                        - Some say indignation due to wailing, lack of faith?

                                        - Translators leave it generic - "Was deeply moved,"

                                           which gives the wrong impression

                              d.  Jesus tears not tears of defeat & despair, like the others

                    3.  Better idea when we understand Jesus' attitude toward death

                              a.  Human say death is natural, normal part of life

                                        - I understand why people say that

                                        - Death is common, but not natural

                              b.  Bible says death is the enemy

                                        - 1 Cor 15:26 - Last enemy to be destroyed is death

                                        - James 1:15 - Death is result of sin - Not natural

                                        - Death is contrary, enemy, rival, adversary

                                                  = Parts loved ones, leaves people alone

                              c.  Jesus sees what death, the enemy has done

                                        - The ones he loves are weeping, defeated, despair

                                        - Death has taken their loved one from them

                                        - So, Jesus is indignant at death, the enemy

                              d.  Death is offensive to Jesus, he loathes death, it is enemy

                    4. We try tone down offensiveness of death, but it is futile effort

                              a.  Can have Frozen Dead Guy festival, but death still comes

                              b.  Can say, "He passed away," but it is still death

                              c.  Can bury people in beautiful gardens in beautiful coffins

                              d.  At the end of the day, death is still death

          C.  ILL:  Years ago, we lived in Wise County in Texas

                    1.  News story in Alvord News

                    2.  Story went like this

                              a.  Rancher was removing brush from his land

                              b.  Discovered a tombstone, then another, then another

                              c.  Discovered 50 or so graves

                              d.  Latest tombstone was dated to 1952

                    3.  Wonder what happened to family of deceased?

                              a.  Did they forget about them that cemetery forgotten?

                              b.  They were trying to locate families of people buried there

                              c.  That's the last I heard of the story

                    4.  It was as if they never existed.  They were forgotten

          D.  But Jesus doesn't forget anyone who has died no longer how long ago

                    1.  Jn 5:28-29 - An hour is coming, which which all who are in the

                         tombs will hear his voice, and will come forth

                              a.  Lazarus body was dead, decomposition set in

                              b.  But Jesus called his name, and he heard!

                              c.  Had to say "Lazarus come forth," if not call name, all the

                                   dead would come forth

                    2.  Imagine scene.  Lazarus is wrapped up, had to hop to entrance

                    3.  Jesus said, "Unbind him, let him go" - Jesus frees us from death

                    4.  Doesn't matter how long one is buried

                              a.  Death can't hold you, Stopped heart can't hold you,                                              years of decomposition can't hold you

                              b.  Nothing can hold you, when he calls name, he raise you

                              c.  In Christ, you are no longer a slave to death



1.  Lesson here is simple - We must choose to believe in Jesus

2.  Many Jews chose to reject Christ

          a.  The miracle a turning point, they looking for Jesus to kill him

          b.  Many people came to see Lazarus back from the dead

          c.  Jews plan on killing Lazarus too

3.  Jesus demonstrated who he is

          a.  He is savior and Lord, and the only answer to death

          b.  No amount of Frozen Dead Guy days, poetry about death, toning it

               down, accepting it, etc. changes death

          c.  Death is the result of sin, and the only answer is faith in Christ

4.  Belief/Faith in Jesus as Lord is a choice and decision (inv)

5.  Jesus will call your name, will be raised to life, or judgment.  Which will it be?