Rise: Week 1

Sarah Fletcher



John 11:1 — ”Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days —


What do you mean Jesus, waited two more days??!?!

Jesus knew these people.  Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha,  is called one that Jesus loves! He has sat in their house, taking advantage of their living room multiple times.

So when the sisters say “Lazarus is about to die” Jesus … waits two more days. Not just that,  it says that Jesus loved them SO he waited. This means something very interesting must be ahead, and SOMEHOW, it must be for their good.

So the two days pass, Jesus knows that Lazarus has died, and he says “now’s the time”.


John 11:38 —  “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.

39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Martha is doing everything she can to let Jesus know that he’s too late. She’s saying that Lazarus’ body is already decaying. On top of that, in Jewish culture, It was believed that the spirit departed from the body on day 3 after death. This is day 4.

And honestly, I wonder if she’s even scared. She doesn’t want to be reminded of her grief. She can’t face it — the tomb is hard enough, let alone opening it.

But Jesus loves her, and he has come for a reason.

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out.


He was back 4 days after death even though that was a physical and spiritual impossibility.

He was back even though Jesus was operating in a public place with crowds of mourners watching.

He was back even though some of those people watching are the same ones who embalmed Lazarus’ body.


Lazarus was alive.


This is our first point for the morning:


  1. Jesus has the power to restore life.
  1. Lazarus was restored Physically.
  2. Lazarus was also restored Relationally.
  3. And finally, Mary and Martha were Spiritually restored.

In working a physical miracle, Jesus also worked a spiritual: he restored Martha’s faith in who He was, and he restored Mary’s faith in who she was to Him.


Today marks the start of our new series, as we build up to Easter, and I chose this passage intentionally, because it gives us a shadow of another miracle to come.


When we think about the power of Jesus, often we think of the needs in our lives. And God still works in power don’t doubt that — God heals, God restores, God strengthens us. And we can pray for those miracles.


But every Christian has experienced one miracle, a lot like this one, that has already met our deepest need. Jesus brought life back into us when we were dead in our sins.


Scripture says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23


Sin leads to death. And “none is righteous, no, not one”. All humans carry the presence and inevitability of death in us, and it is hopeless.


But Jesus looked at all of us walking around, already sentenced to our tombs. He felt compassion, just as he did for Lazarus. And Jesus decided to do something about it.


But we’re going to come back to that.


Let’s reread verse 43:


43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.


Lazarus was mummified!


Did he roll? Did he hop? I don’t know, but OUT. HE. CAME.


The Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The word of the Lord raised him. But Jesus’ words when he got to the front of the tomb were to all the people who had witnessed the miracle. “You — unbind him”.


This is our second point of the morning:


2) Our community has the power to free us from the remnants of our old life.


Jesus has no problem unbinding gravecloths. He could have done it that instant. But instead, he decided that community would be the conduit through which we experience that power.


When we are physically dead we have physical graveclothes.

When we are spiritually dead, what are our graveclothes?


Anxiety. Eating Disorders. Alcoholism. Suicidal Thoughts. A Desperation for Control. Broken Sexuality. Thirst for Esteem. Pornography. PTSD. Fear. Not to mention just envy, greed, lust, lying, cheating, gossiping, etc.  These are our habits we walk out of the grave, and into our new life with. Doubt, insecurity, shame.


The only way to get free is having people close enough to take the grave-clothes off.


As a body of believers, We are called to do everything possible to help people get unbound.


Can I tell you the place I think this happens? SMALL GROUPS.


This is Christian community in action. Getting each other unbound so we can live the Christian life and mission unhindered.


City Church is a place that believes in the miraculous power of Jesus to transform us. To give us new life. But it is also a place that believes in the power of COMMUNITY to help us walk in freedom.


As we head towards the close, I want to remind us of something.


The resurrection of Lazarus points to an even greater resurrection to come not 6 months later than this.


Jesus would carry a cross. He would be nailed to it, beaten and mocked. He would die as he hung there. He would be put in a tomb with a stone rolled in front, wrapped in graveclothes in the darkness. And then … he would RISE AGAIN.


And if we believe in the name of Jesus and put our trust in Him, we are told that we will share in His resurrection.


While Lazarus was resurrected back to life on earth, we will one day be resurrected to life eternal. ALL who believe in Him and call upon his name can experience a true and LASTING resurrection. One we know is real because He experienced it first, and one we know we can have because Jesus promised we would have it in him.


This resurrection is one that is physical in nature, restores us relationally with both God and man, and spiritually marks us as the holy people of God. And one where we would be given victory over every single remnant of death wrapping us up.


John 5:28-29 says “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice”

And want to know something beautiful? We’re told that when the disciples came into the tomb to find Jesus, they didn’t just find it empty — they found the graveclothes left behind. We’ll come out of our tombs looking a lot different than Lazarus did.


Isaiah 61:10  —          

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.


The day is coming when our broken bodies will be made perfect, this broken world will be restored, and we will once again be one with God. This is our hope and our promise.


Until then, there are three challenges for us in the room:


  1. Ask Jesus for New Life.
  2.     Join a Life Group.
  3. Invite someone to witness the miracle.  John 11:45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.