Pastor Ryan Black
Cedar Springs Christian Church
340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs
From the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we learn certain lessons. The first lesson is about reason. You cannot have radical faith until you’ve exhausted all reasonable solutions. Mary and Martha didn’t send for Jesus until they’d done everything they could do for Lazarus. Be reasonable; if you can do it for yourself, God won’t do it for you. For example, unless you are willing to change your diet and start eating right, how can you go to God with confidence for healing? Unless you are willing to put the needs of your spouse above your own, what’s the point in praying for a happy marriage? James writes: “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).
The second lesson is about relationship. Some folks only turn to God when they have a crisis. Prayer is a foreign concept to them until they have a car wreck, or their marriage falls apart, or they lose their job. Then, incredibly, they say, “God, why did you let this happen?” It’s hard to go to someone when you’re in trouble, if you’ve spent no time building a relationship with them. Jesus often spent time at the home of Mary and Martha, eating at their table. They were givers, not takers. “It was that mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick” (John 11:2). When you love the lord to that extent, you can go to him in faith knowing your needs will be met.
The third lesson is about relinquishment. As long as you believe you can handle the problem on your own, you will not reach for the miracle-working power of God. You have to be in a situation so terrible that you pray the prayer of relinquishment: “Lord, I’ve done all i know and things aren’t getting any better. So I’m through trying to fix it. I turn it completely over to you. I don’t know how you’re going to handle it, but I know you love me and want only what’s best for me. So here it is, Lord; it’s all yours.” This is not a prayer of defeat; it is one of total trust. David wrote: “Though i am surrounded by troubles…the Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, o lord, endures forever” (ps 138:7-8 ).
Before leaving the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, here are two more lessons: the fourth lesson is about radical faith. When somebody is dead and buried, that’s as “final” as it gets. To believe God in the face of such a situation requires radical faith. Until this moment, Martha had “if only” faith. “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). But then she began to realize what Jesus could do, and moved to “even now” faith. She said to Jesus, “but even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Radical faith says, “Lord, I believe that my future can be greater than my past, that you can turn the situation around and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, that nothing is too hard for you.” Radical faith in the face of radical circumstances brings radical results.