Bryan Jones |

This Easter, we examine the resurrection of Lazarus and compare it to the resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus at the Center of Transformation

Resurrection • Message 7

Bryan Jones

March 30 & 31, 2024



A. Introduction

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live…”

John 11:25a (NLT)


B. Jesus WAITS. (John 11:5-7, 11-14, 20)

One thing I have learned about us as human beings is we all hate waiting… don’t we?

I found a survey from Timex that asked people how long they were willing to wait for various annoyances before they reacted.

  • A car in front of you: the average person waits 50 seconds before beeping the horn… how many of you would blow the horn quicker? I’m not thinking Mother Theresa would wait that long… How many of you lay on the horn in the name of Jesus in less than that? Listen, I love that we have the Brookwood tree on my car… but the problem is that Jesus has transformed me, but He hasn’t transformed my driving yet… so I'm just going to put on another church’s bumper sticker.
  • Waiting for your spouse or date to get ready… the average person will wait 21 minutes before getting impatient… Guys, respond at your own risk… how many of you will get impatient before 20 minutes… but here’s the true test: how many of you wives would say your husband takes longer?

We hate waiting, don’t we? And this causes a problem because, in the Christian life, there are two types of faith…

Forward faith - This is where we must take a step of faith for God to move. (Abraham had to leave home before God showed him where to go, the disciples had to drop their nets, the Israelites had to take a step of faith before the waters parted, and Peter had to get out of the boat to walk on water.)

Waiting faith - This is where we must wait for God to move. (This is David waiting in the caves before coming king, it’s the people of God waiting to be freed from slavery, it’s the man without a job waiting for God to show up in his suffering, it’s the disciples having to wait three days until Jesus raises from the tomb and all there is silence.)

And Jesus does the exact thing we hate: He waits… just listen…


Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days, and then He said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

John 11:5-7 (NIV)


Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 

John 11:14-15 (ESV)


In Jewish culture, one of the processes of death is called Shiva… it’s a 7-day mourning process.

The first three days are for intense mourning, followed by four days of mourning and reflection. In the last four days, they would often sit, and usually sit on the ground or lower stools as a sign of their lower emotional state…

That’s why it says this in John 11:20:


So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, but Mary remained seated in the house.

John 11:20 (ESV)


But did you notice God waited three days before showing up…

God sees something that they can’t…

God sees what we can’t…

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days…

John 11:5-7 (NIV)


Notice He loves them, but He waits… but why wouldn’t He drop everything and go there? Because God has a plan… and no matter what you believe about God, even if you don’t follow Him, there is a plan. It's no coincidence you are here and hearing this message…

One of the reasons He waited was that in the first three days, people in Jewish culture believed the soul hovered around the body for 3 days… So, you could be close to the body, and there was hope they could come back… But on the 4th day, they believed the soul left the body… So, notice when Jesus shows up… When all hope is gone…

There is always a purpose in God's delays… God’s waiting isn’t an act of cruelty. What I want you to know is that God sees what Mary, Martha and the others can't see…

This Easter, I want you to know there are things God sees that you and I can't always see. There are things God sees that we can miss.


God sees what we can’t in ourselves.

If you’re in this room and you think there is no way God could ever use you, love you, or if you could ever really take this Jesus thing seriously, can I just tell you that you are a prime candidate for God this Easter Weekend? I remember I was talking to a guy who said if I walked into a church, I'd probably catch on fire, and I told him quite the opposite; you’re probably the person God will set on fire to reach others for Him… we kind of have a motto here of no perfect people allowed because the Bible was filled with imperfect people.

Noah was a drunk.

Jacob was a liar and a cheat.

Moses had a temper, a stuttering problem, and, oh, by the way, he killed someone.

Rahab was a prostitute.

David was an adulterer and a murderer.

Elijah was depressed and suicidal.

Abraham was too old.

Timothy was too young.

Jonah ran from God and hated others.

Martha was a workaholic and worrier.

Peter denied Jesus and then gave up.

Paul persecuted and killed Christians.

You see yourselves as you are, but God sees you as you will be… You see a seed, but He sees an oak tree. I don’t care who you are, where you came from, or what your past is… If you aren’t dead, then God’s not done… and today, of all days, we remember He takes dead people and brings them to new life in Him…


God sees what we can’t in our pain.

Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 

John 11:14-15 (ESV)


Notice Jesus says He’s glad. How can anyone be glad at a funeral? He’s not glad about Lazarus' death. He’s glad that this will grow their faith.  

The pains in your life will produce the greatest power in you spiritually. All we see are the waves, but Jesus sees the end result… greater faith…

Swimming Lessons – When I was little, my mom told me we were going to the pool, and I was so excited. Little did I know she was taking me to swimming lessons… I wasn’t very happy about that at all…. I loved swimming, but I swam with floaties. I told my mom this was a form of child torture and that I didn’t want to go…. But still, I was forced to go… and I remember being in the pool with this very mean lady… and then they would do this very satanic thing where they would hold me on my belly, and I tried and float, and then they would let go, and then I would sink to the bottom… and this went on and on… but one time something happened. Once, when I sunk to the bottom, my mom didn’t grab me instantly. She waited… and I was at the bottom of the pool, and I started getting afraid. I could hear my mom and vaguely see her, but she wasn’t moving… and I thought she had forgotten about me… I started screaming, but it was like she couldn’t hear me; terror came over me… and I was down there thinking, great, this is how I’m going to go out… I’m going to be up in heaven talking to the disciples. I’m going to be like, ‘How did you get here?’ and someone will say, ‘I was crucified,’ ‘I was stoned to death…’ and someone’s going to go, ‘How did you get here?’ and I’m just going to say ‘swimming lessons…’ but I’ll never forget this one moment when I felt all alone, my mom reached down and pulled me up… and she just said, it’s okay, I was here the whole time… and hearing that gave me the confidence to get back in the water and swim…

All I saw was the fear and the waters coming over me… but my mom saw something I couldn’t see. She saw the joy and thrill I would have jumping, splashing and diving in the water.

Remember, God sees what you can’t, and what the enemy intends for evil, God intends for good. God saw what Mary, Martha and the disciples couldn’t. All they saw was the pain of death and wondering why Jesus didn’t show up… but God saw something they couldn’t see in their pain…

Listen, I'm not trying to minimize the pain we walk through; I'm just simply saying that God sees what you can't. He sees a deeper faith, a deeper joy, a deeper life that can come through even the bad things…

You can have confidence no matter what you are going through because Jesus wins.


Jesus WINS.

If you’ve come to our church for any period of time, one of the things you’ve heard me say is that your picture of Jesus will determine your future… If Jesus is too small, then you will never follow Him or give your life to Him. For some people, Jesus is just big enough or important enough to show up to church a few times a year and pay their respects.

But I’m trusting and believing that God will open your mind and heart to Jesus, to how big and powerful Jesus really is…

All through the years, people have doubted and even tried to get rid of Jesus. Culture today has tried to push Jesus out of the center. The religious leaders of His day tried to silence and kill Him. Religions have claimed He’s not real. Yet I remind you that the culture, sin, death, Satan and hell can’t hold Him back…

I love what one writer, John Ortberg, says…

Every time any human being anywhere on the planet opens a calendar, unfolds a newspaper, or boots up a computer, he or she is reminded that Jesus Christ has in fact become the hinge of human history. Caesar Nero died in the year of our Lord AD 68. Napoleon (the emperor of the world) died in the year of our Lord 1821. Joseph Stalin died in the year of our Lord 1953. Maybe Jesus was not Lord of Lords and King of Kings, but how strange that now every ruler who ever reigned must be dated in reference to the life of Jesus.

John Ortberg


So, Jesus shows up in a situation that seems like no victory could come, a funeral… and He shows up on the 4th day when all hope is gone, and notice what He says:


Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, 

John 11:21-25 (ESV)


Did you notice the statement, even now? It’s the lowest of lows… and then He says, I am the resurrection and the life… right now. She thinks it’s one day… but He’s showing her that He can do the unthinkable. This is His greatest miracle He’s done…


When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

John 11:43-44


Jesus wins even at a funeral. People have been betting against Jesus their entire lives, but He won’t seem to go away. He doesn’t fall off His throne. He cannot be replaced or moved.

Think about the white flag you were given when you walked in… this is universally a sign of surrender and defeat. But Jesus redefined this idea of surrender and white flag this Easter weekend…

On October 30, 1974, there was a fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman called The Rumble in the Jungle. Foreman was considered by many observers to be the favorite to win the fight due to his superior punching power. Some observers at the time thought that Ali was being horribly beaten and worried that they might see him get killed in the ring. But little did they know it was all a part of his strategy called Rope a Dope… where we would wait for George Foreman to tire out… Ali's preparation for the fight involved toughening himself up by allowing his sparring partners to pummel him. Everyone had thought it was over; everyone thought George Foreman had won…  everyone had said George Foreman was too big and too strong… but in the 8th round, Ali came out swinging and won…

Let me remind you that everyone thought Jesus stood no chance against the sins of the world. Death was too big and too strong. And in the first 3 days, it looked as though Satan had one. Jesus was against the ropes, and there was no victory in sight… Little did everyone know that this was all a part of the plan. God sees what we can’t…  Jesus willingly took the blows of sin, death, Satan and hell. And He took them for you, and He took them for me. And yet, in the 9th hour when all hope seemed lost. Jesus surrendered His life, and He held up the white flag, but what it brought wasn’t defeat. It was victory…  

Jesus redefines victory through surrender…

Jesus conquered sin, death, Satan, and hell … and reminded us that people have been betting against Jesus for all eternity, and yet He always wins … In fact, listen to what it says:


But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 

Luke 24:1-6 (ESV)


There is victory this morning, but it comes from surrender…

Death -> New Life

Past -> Peace

Control -> Freedom

Grief -> Healing

Fear -> Hope

White flag

The white flag universally means something different to the world; it’s a sign of captivity and defeat. For Jesus, the white flag is a way of victory, hope and resurrection, that we surrender, lay down our lives, and get victory.

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