When God revealed some deeper truth to me about John 11, I realized how much more I needed to grow in faith. John is teaching us about a resurrection-from-the-dead-now faith. It is somewhat similar to Paul’s example of faith when he was left for dead in a heap of stones and probably resurrected by God to continue the Work.
This is the kind of faith that brings miraculous healings and many other miracles into our lives.
Here John gives us a dramatic insight into how powerful Christ’s faith was. Perhaps he had about 30 years to think about and analyze this Lazarus example before he wrote it in the Bible. So he probably understood Christ’s faith better than most of the apostles and prophets.
The good news is, we can and must have the very same faith that Christ had.
The Apostle Paul lived by the faith of Jesus Christ. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). He is talking about possessing the very same faith Jesus Christ has, and that He had while on this Earth. Paul said, I have the same faith—the faith of Christ. I live by that.
With that in mind, look at the story of Lazarus, recorded in John 11. This chapter is about the faith of Christ. It teaches us a magnificent lesson in faith.
When Lazarus became sick, his two sisters, Mary and Martha, sent for Jesus. When Jesus received the news, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (verse 4). Imagine hearing Christ respond to them this way.
Christ often said and did things that people did not understand. This agitated many people.
A Dangerous Work
Jesus Christ set a tremendous example of doing God’s Work in the midst of danger. His disciples marveled over this, but Christ was actually teaching them to follow His example. This is a lesson we urgently need to learn in this end time.
Two days after receiving the news about Lazarus’s illness, Christ told His disciples that they needed to go back to Judaea to do some work there. They responded, “Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” (John 11:8). They had encountered trouble there and actually feared for Christ’s life if they were to return.
Jesus Christ did not decide where to go and where not to go based on how dangerous it was. He acted according to the work that needed to be done.
We too can face obstacles and troubles in doing God’s Work. Sometimes we simply have to walk into harm’s way because something must be done, and God wants us to do it. It takes courage and faith to do that. It is not easy.
It wasn’t easy for Christ: The Jews in Judaea had previously tried to stone Him! Jesus’s disciples were convinced they would attempt it again. But Christ sacrificed in any way the Father required in order to finish the Work. This is my Father’s Work, He said. My great passion is to finish it, and to do it exactly as He instructed. He was so determined to follow through with His Father’s instructions that nothing—not physical danger or anything else—could ever stop Him!
“Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him” (verses 9-10).
Christ is saying that we only have so much daylight—only a short span of time to complete this Work. Night is approaching quickly, when we will be unable to do this phase of the Work anymore. So we must be urgent! Even if it requires traveling somewhere that could get us stoned, or that will plunge us into fiery persecutions, we must get the job done!
God is trying to build faith in us, and that is not easy. In order to achieve that, He has no choice but to put us through challenges and difficulties. It is our responsibility to keep the bigger picture in mind and to say, This is for God’s glory—I must do it. This is why we are here.
God has given us a wondrous calling. We will never be able to fulfill it unless we are developing the faith to follow Him wherever He leads us, even into danger. This is what Jesus Christ did, and it is an important lesson He taught His disciples. You can be sure it will become more relevant to us as we approach the end of this age.
Trouble Believing God
Christ then told His disciples about Lazarus: “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11). The disciples didn’t understand—they thought Christ literally meant Lazarus was sleeping and that he would be fine. But Christ was telling them that by this point, Lazarus had died. “Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep” (verses 12-13).
As Christ viewed it, Lazarus was just taking a nap, and He was going to wake him up. Several places in Scripture refer to death as “sleep” (e.g., Daniel 12:2; Acts 7:60; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15). When you understand the truth about the resurrections, you realize that death is only a sleep from which you will awaken!
A few years ago, my wife died in the faith. In a very short span of time she will be resurrected into eternal glory. How can we describe her condition today as death?
No one else would have looked at Lazarus’s state as mere sleep. But Christ didn’t think like the people around Him. This was the Word made flesh, the Son of God! Yet people talked to Him and treated Him like any other man. They didn’t understand Him.
If we are going to let Christ live in us and have the faith of Christ, we must learn to view death as He does. We must strive to view everything as He does.
“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him” (John 11:14-15).
This whole affair was for their benefit, so they would learn to live by Christ’s faith. He was trying to teach them how little of that faith they had. He is also trying to teach us the same lesson. Christ is trying to teach all of His disciples, in any age, to believe God.
Each one of us can have this mind-staggering faith in us. But we all must grow mightily to have the faith of Christ. Christ was a living example of how powerful our faith can and must be. Christ’s Bride must build the same faith her Husband has. And what a faith it is!
Do you have a resurrection-from-the-dead-now faith? Do you believe Christ could and would resurrect you from the dead today, if there was a need to do so? Christ teaches all of us how much more powerful our faith can be.
We must be growing in this all-powerful faith of Christ—the same faith He had when He walked the Earth.
This kind of faith revolutionizes our lives.
Christ was trying to accomplish something vital: He wanted His disciples to believe. He really was God in the flesh! He really could just speak to a man in the grave and say, Rise up and walk! and have that man come right up out of the grave! That is incredible.
Do you believe Jesus Christ? The problem man has had throughout the ages is just believing God! We must have faith and build faith in our lives, so that like the Apostle Paul we come to the point where we live by the very faith of Jesus Christ. It becomes a way of life every hour of the day.