The Gospel in the face of a Life-Threatening Illness
March 29, 2020

The Gospel in the face of a Life-Threatening Illness

Preacher:
Passage: John 11
Service Type:

Journey to the Cross:
The Gospel in the face of a Life-Threatening Illness
John 11:1-46 (focus: 21-27)

21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

It is no doubt we live in unprecedented times.  The Apostle Paul warned us that dangerous times would come, and while many of our thoughts would drift to the danger of the novel coronavirus called COVID 19, it was the spiritual danger that Paul warned us about.  That men would be lovers of themselves, proud, boastful, unholy, lovers of money and that they would have a form of godliness but deny the power of true godliness.

We certainly live in these dangerous times that Paul warned us about it in his second letter to Timothy.  My hope this morning is that like Lazarus, some of you might be awakened from a spiritual slumber to serve the living God.  My hope is that this story will serve us this morning in giving us a hope in the living God even in the face of a world-wide pandemic.

This morning I have 3 takeaways from this account that I’d like to present for your consideration.

#1 Sickness and Death inevitable

For those of us who live in the 21st century, especially those of us who live in America, it is easy to forget how fragile human life is.  With the advancements of modern science and technology anything that we could ever want and need is at our fingertips.  Modern medicine has greatly increased our quality and quantity of life.

Throughout history there have been periods of time when mankind has been confronted with death on a mass scale.  The Spanish Flu in the early 1900’s killed approximately 40 to 50 million people.  The Bubonic Plague or Black Death was responsible for approximately 200 million deaths worldwide in the 14th century.

Even in the absence of these pandemics, history has shown that sickness and death is a reality that we must be aware of.

It certainly was for Lazarus and his sisters. It’s still stunning that even when we know that death is inevitable we still act surprised when it comes.  Think about Martha and Mary’s appeal to Jesus, “If you had been here, he would still be alive.” This is what we would love to believe, right?

Now as we discussed a few weeks ago there are those that would say that a Christian has authority over sickness.  That if we fall ill then it is due to a lack of faith.

This is simply untrue.  They are not taking the entire biblical narrative into consideration.

There have been moments in biblical history where God would perform miracles such as healing and raising people from the dead.  But we forget that it was God that sent the plagues on Egypt, that struck King Uzziah with leprosy, drove King Nebuchadnezzar mad.

Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, says that he refuses to allow a theology that allows for sickness.  Many of the so-called faith healers are proclaiming, binding and taking authority over this virus to no avail.

Hebrews 9:27: And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

I find it interesting that the scripture clearly states that Lazarus was a man that Jesus loved.  Yet sickness and even death came upon him.

John 11:1-4
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

This brings us to our second takeaway.

#2 Sickness and Death serve the Glory of God

The words of Christ should be comforting here: “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

God is sovereign over sickness and disease.  He is sovereign over weather.  He is sovereign over animals and the crops.  He is sovereign over world leaders.

Psalm 148:7-8
7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Psalm135:5-7
5  For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. 7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Romans 13:1-2
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

We have authority over nothing.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:27 that we can’t even add a single hour to our life.

The unfortunate fate of those who only focus on signs and wonders and miracles in this life is that they are missing the true message of the Gospel.

Christ has not come to heal all our diseases and give us our best life now.  And this is good news!  Why is it good news?  Because every person that has ever been miraculously healed or raised from the dead, except for Christ, has eventually died.  These things are temporary and what Christ has come to give us is eternal.

#3 The Resurrection is not an Event, but a person

This takes us to our third and final point this morning and right back to our original text.

21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Martha, like many of us are awaiting a day, an event or a place.  We say I can’t wait to see what heaven will be like.  We reduce the reward of our salvation to an event and place, but Jesus says to us this morning as he said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Even if you die.  Even if the worst thing that can happen to you happens to you, you’re secure in me.  You’ll live.

Put your faith in me!  You’ll never truly die.

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