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Nov 9 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 4, 2012

Why Did Jesus Say That?

Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 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.”
John 11:7-10

INTRO: This last week, I’ve spent my spare time immersed in a book I was asked to read

The author begins by taking us into her first counseling appointment
– until that point, it had taken all her strength to hold her life and family together
• then she learned her son was facing a serious health crisis
• she had no reserves to deal with it and therefore  became miserable and lost
– in successive appointments, she revealed the horrors of childhood and adolescence
• she divulged things she had never told anyone
• in the process of exposing her wounds, she occasionally hit a wall
○ she was unable to keep talking – got confused, stumbled around
○ but her counselor encouraged her to look behind each of these doors
– every time she did, she discovered another important insight about herself
• with each discovery, she grew
• gradually, she became less miserable and life began to make more sense

Much of our misery, discontent, and irritability stem from mental roadblocks and wrong ideas we hold unconsciously
– some of these could be resolved, simply by bringing them into the light
• it’s the stuff that remains in darkness that gives us most trouble
• seeing things in the light, is to understand them better
– to make good decisions, we need:
• a good vantage point and a healthy perspective
• we make our worst decisions when blinded by a fog of emotions
○ some people do this constantly and they can’t figure out why they’re so messed up

Thankfully, the simple wisdom of scripture comes to our rescue

We immediately recognize this family

We know the two sisters from other stories – we meet Lazarus in this one
– Martha and Mary realized their brother’s health was failing
• Jesus was not that far away – and this was an emergency
• the message was short and sweet, “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick”
○ they did not include an urgent request for him to come immediately, only the facts
• the Greek word translated love implies affection, “love as a friend” (v. 11 and see Jn. 21:15-17)
– immediately Jesus saw this as an opportunity, “This sickness is not to end in death . . .”
• first of all, it was an opportunity for God to reveal his glory
– John inserts a note, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”
• but he uses a different word for love – on that has more depth
○ the love John witnessed was more than the sisters note to Jesus had implied
• but, then, what Jesus did next seems to contradict his love,
“He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was”
– later, he announced they were returning to Judea
• the disciples protested that it was too dangerous
• his response is something of a riddle, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?”
○ I imagine the disciples responding, “Yes! there are twelve hours in a day. Twelve hours in which we could be ambushed! Twelve hours in which they could arrest and stone You!”
• but, as so many times before, Jesus was not being literal

Jesus followed that statement with another analogy, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep”
– which, of course, they misunderstood
• then he told them “plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’”
• so a second opportunity Jesus saw in Lazarus’ sickness was for the disciples to believe

The sisters came out to the highway to meet Jesus
– Martha got the message he was on his way and went out to meet him
• Mary stayed inside and waited for an invitation
– have you noticed, Mary is at Jesus’ feet every time she appears in the gospels? (Lk. 10:39; Jn. 11:32; 12:3)
• she obviously loved and adored Jesus,
• yet Jesus never spoke to Mary – he spoke only to Martha
○ perhaps Mary’s questions and needs were met at Jesus’ feet, whereas Martha needed more instruction and explanations

The opportunity created by Lazarus’ illness–for God’s glory and the disciples’ faith–came together at the grave side
vv. 39-40, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

Let’s return to the riddle

Verses 9-10, Keep in mind, there were no  streetlights, house lights, or flashlights
– it was easy to get lost or injured if you ventured out at night

But what Jesus had in mind was people stumbling around in the daytime
– disciples, Martha, Mary, their friends who came to comfort them, and of course those who were plotting his death
– all of them were groping around in spiritual darkness

Why did Jesus say this?

1. Jesus wanted to reassure his disciples
– he could see clearly what lay ahead of them – he knew what he was doing
– “Lord, are You sure You’re walking in the light?” — “I am the Light of the world” (Jn. 8:12)

2. Jesus wanted them to go with him, fearlessly trusting him
– they would be safe — he wasn’t going to let anything happen to them
Jn. 18:7-8, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way.”

3. Jesus wanted to enlighten them (note in v. 10, “the light is not in him”)
– I think there were times Jesus was fed up with their blindness
• like when washing their feet, and Peter said, “Never!”
– he knew things would be so different for them, when their eyes were opened
• they would see him in a new light
Jn. 14:9, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Phillip?”
• they would see themselves in a new light – and others — and the whole world

4. Jesus wanted them to see the Father
– this was possible, because Jesus was the light illuminating the Father

He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness (Jn. 12:45-46)

5. Jesus wanted them to become “sons of light”

For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light (Jn. 12:35-36)

CONC: Remember, Jesus said, “This sickness is not to end in death”?

But it did end in death – perhaps Lazarus was already dead when Jesus got the message
– besides, before they left for Bethany Jesus said, “Lazarus is dead”
– then what did Jesus mean?
• literally, “sickness is not to death”
• death was not the purpose or goal of the sickness
• it was not a sickness to death, but through death to something else
○ to God’s glory and the disciples’ faith
– the story of Jesus is never about death, even when a death occurred, and even his dying on the cross was not about death (perhaps that’s why it is narrated with so few details)

Whatever the story, if Jesus is in it, it’s about life
– but we need to bring our mortality to Jesus to see the life

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die (v. 25)

We can be enlightened by Jesus, but it requires training
– have you ever looked at your watch, then immediately someone asked you, “What time is it?” and you had to look again?
• that’s because looking isn’t the same as seeing
• a look can be a glance – to see requires us to focus attention
Jesus’ light shines on us when we bring awareness to our mental habits, our circumstances, and to his grace

Every day something comes into our life that is an opportunity
– to be enlightened, to learn more about ourselves, to see God’s glory
– to practice what we have learned

We have twelve hours every day to make this spiritual journey
– every day some event can take us further
• regardless of whether it is calming or upsetting, dreaded or desired, a loss or a gain
• we are enlightened when we bring awareness to our reactions
• disappointment, fear, frustration – any reaction can be a trigger
pure reaction without awareness is walking in darkness
– all of these things are what God uses to train us

Be patient with yourself – like you would be with a child
We make this journey with Jesus
– he is the light and he will guide the way

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