Scriptural Text: St. John 11:4
I want to start this sermon off with three (3) questions:
1st Question: What does it mean to believe? To believe means to accept that something is true, especially without proof.
2nd Question: What is Faith? Faith is the COMPLETE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE in someone or something. The bible contains many chapters and verses that speaks about faith. Several familiar passages on faith are:
Special Point: These scriptures gives us evidence that faith and belief are not the same. Faith carries a more spiritual meaning.
3rd Question: Why do so many people struggle with BELIEF?
First of all, believe and faith as mentioned, are not the same. They are interrelated! Belief leads to faith. FAITH IS CONCRETE! With faith you don’t need much mental capacity to exercise its power. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Special Point: Before God can move you to faith where you see the supernatural manifestation of His power, He has to get you to FIRST BELIEVE. Again Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
Again FAITH IS CONCRETE!
Faith is like exercising, you practice it over and over again. Both you and God work together on seeing it established. God reveals himself to you to get you to BELIEVE! Once belief has been developed, you then move into faith (complete trust and confidence in).
James clarifies this for us in James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” You cannot have faith without works. Both work hand in hand. So the fight or the struggle, that one encounters in their belief system, is because if that individual can get from that stage of development, he/she then moves into faith where they will see the manifestation of God’s Power. When faith is established, the believer can move into exercising of faith where nothing is impossible.
Special Point: So now the question has moved from 1: What does it means to believe? to 2: What is faith? And to 3: Why do some people struggle with their BELIEF? To a forth question: 4: How to get fixated in my Faith?
Special Point: You cannot have faith without a relationship. Relationship involves participation and participation produces results. Jesus said in Mark 11:22: “Have faith in God.”
LET’S GO TO OUR TEXT:
Special Point: In chapter 11 verse 4 of St. John, was Jesus using the death of Lazarus as an opportunity to get his disciples to believe? Answer Yes!
How do I know that? Verse 4; 15; 25 and verse 40 confirms this.
Special Point: In verse 15, Jesus mentioned that He was glad that He wasn’t there meaning that He was glad that He didn’t move when they asked him to come to the aid of Lazarus. He wanted them to move from belief to faith (to be fully persuaded in their mind that He is who He said that He is and can do what he said he can do).
Special Point: There were four (4) types of characteristics or belief systems which were involved in this story.
Each character demonstrated a different outlook on the overall scope of the situation. Each character BELIEF SYSTEM was challenged whether directly or indirectly.
MARY’S BELIEF SYSTEM:
Mary sent words to Jesus that her brother who He loved was sick. She however remained in the house, lost in mournful contemplation. Her statement in verse 32 emphasised my brother for her tender nature was torn by the loss of the object of her love. I believe the reason why she didn’t go with Martha to meet Jesus at the entrance of the city was that she was still upset over the fact the Jesus didn’t show up to heal Lazarus.
MARTHA’S BELIEF SYSTEM:
Martha on the other hand, belief was challenged directly. Notice because she was the one prying on Jesus the most. She also sent message to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. Then she met Jesus at the entrance of the city when she heard that he finally came and probed at him stating that if He had come when she told him, her brother would not have died. Her probing didn’t stop there however like others, she expressed her belief in Jesus but in reality she didn’t quite believe. If she did she would’ve rest with the assurance that the appearance of Jesus would’ve fixed the situation.
She expressed belief by stating that she knows that whatsoever Jesus would ask of God, God will give it to Him (v.22).
She expressed belief in the resurrection but didn’t realize that Jesus was the resurrection and the life. Her belief was partial but not complete. Jesus however was looking to fix that. That’s why he waited until the situation was impossible.
Special Point: Jesus doesn’t want partial belief displayed by the believers in relation to who He is. He wants your belief to be fixed in Him and in His ability based on who He is (The Son of God). He wants you to exercise FAITH in Him.
Jesus didn’t rest until he accomplished that. That’s why He rejoices when there is a Crises or a Conflict. He sees it as an opportunity to manifest His glory and to get you to believe and then to exercise faith.
THE DISCIPLES BELIEF SYSTEM:
They were bewildered concerning Jesus manoeuvrings. Especially how Jesus wanted to go back to the place where the Jews sought to stone him upon hearing of Lazarus sickness. They were also puzzled by Jesus view of death because they could not see it through His eyes.
Thomas on the other hand, felt sure that doom and disappointment were waiting for him if he returned to Jerusalem. He was ready to die with Jesus if needs be. His faith was courageous but not triumphant.
THE JEWS BELIEF SYSTEM:
They didn’t believe at all! The best that they could’ve offer during this time of bereavement was sympathy and criticism. It had no constructive suggestions. The inability to present any positive hope to the bereaved sisters was a confession that Judaism had no clear testimony to eternal life. Their criticism was intended to get others to not believe in Him and to reject his claims.
Special Point: During your time of trials and tribulation, you don’t need anybody to pity you. You need people in your life who can strengthen your faith.
As mentioned, each character BELIEF SYSTEM was challenged whether directly or indirectly. And as further mentioned, it was to get their faith fixed in Jesus.
Jesus challenge to those around Him to remove the stone from the mouth of the cave was a challenge to see if the truly believed. He could’ve just speak and the stone could’ve moved itself. But He challenged them to obey His command. He tested their belief system.
Special Point: Martha who Jesus told to only believe and she would see his glory, still questioned Jesus concerning his acts. She said in verse 39, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”
Jesus responded to her by saying, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe (HAVE FAITH) thou shouldest see the glory of God?”
Special Point: Jesus was saying to her in modern vernacular, “DIDN’T I TOLD YOU TO HAVE FAITH IN ME.”
They then removed the stone!
Jesus then looked up to heaven and prayed and in his prayer he mentioned something which would’ve seal the deal in the development of the BELIEF SYSTEM. He said in verse 42, “THAT THEY MAY BELIEVE THAT THOU HAST SENT ME.”
Then Jesus cried out wit a loud voice, “LAZARUS COME FORTH!” He that was dead came forth and in verse 45 the bible says, “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, BELIEVED ON HIM.”