Lesson 57: John 11:38-44 – The Blame Game

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 57 from the sermon series "The Gospel of John" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



Ever wonder how God feels about getting blamed for everything from babies with cancer to rainy weekends? The Lord groaned after getting blamed for not saving Lazarus (11:37,38). But groaning isn’t complaining, it is mourning with pain. It hurts God when He is blamed for things. Of course He could fix your life, and He will at the Rapture, but before you blame Him for tarrying, remember He is waiting to rapture us so more will be saved (cf.IIPe.3:9,15).

The raising of Lazarus is a type of Israel’s spiritual resurrection from the virtual death she’s been in for 2,000 years, and the stone that kept Lazarus from rising is a type of the stone that is keeping Israel from rising, the Law written in stone (Ex.24:12). Just as the Lord told the unbelievers that they must roll this tone away (Jo.11:39), so unbelieving Jews must roll away the stone of the Law before they will believe on Christ.

When Martha warned the Lord about the stink of her brother’s body, it was her way of saying, “It is too late to raise him.” We know this because He scolds her (v.40). He or-dered these men to roll away the stone (v.39), and when it says “then” they rolled away the stone in Verse 41 it shows Martha’s unbelief had stopped them in their tracks when they were about to obey. Unbelief always does! It is why you need to be in church, around people of faith instead!

The Lord lifted up His eyes to pray (v.41) because the Jews did this to get mercy from the Lord (Ps.123:1-3). He Himself didn’t need mercy, of course, but the publican knew he did, but was so humble he didn’t dare lift his eyes (Luke 18:13). But you already have mercy (Tit.3:5), so you don’t have to lift your eyes when you pray to ask for it.

How’d the Lord know the Father heard Him (Jo.11:41) if He asked Him to raise Lazarus and he hadn’t yet risen? He was a Jew under Law, and only sin kept their prayers from being heard (Ps.66:18)—and He was no sinner! What if He prayed not to die? The Father would have saved Him (Mt.26:53). Aren’t you glad He instead prayed John 12:27?

He prayed aloud to show those who thought He was in league with the prince of devils who He was really in league with (cf. Mt.12:24).

“Come forth” (Jo.11:43) is usually what is said to people coming out of countries and cities (De.4:46; Ju.1:24), not to people rising from the dead. Remember, Lazarus is a type of when the Lord will raise Israel from their 2,000-year virtual death out of all the cities and countries of the world, to enter the kingdom. Of course, it fits Lazarus also, who was coming from Abraham’s bosom, another literal place.

When the Lord raised Lazarus it showed Jews who knew their Bible that He was God because only Jehovah raises the dead (ISam.2:6). His bindings and napkin symbolize Israel’s spiritual condition, blind to what God wants them to do and powerless to do it.

When Lazarus couldn’t rise through his bindings like the Lord could (John 20:6,7) it showed he just got his old life back, meaning he sinned again. But before you judge him for this, remember that you too sin after being raised from the dead (Eph.2:1). Lazarus’ windings were a reminder that the world still had a hold of him, and they restricted his movements, as sin restricts your spiritual movements. Why not lose the grave clothes of sin? The 3 Hebrews didn’t smell like smoke (Dan.3:27), and after he unwound, Lazarus didn’t stink like corruption any more. This is a type of how God delivers completely, but it is the challenge of the Christian life to make our state match this perfect standing.

The command to “let him go” would be hard for those with questions about life after death, but the Lord didn’t want him telling them about his life before he was raised from the dead. When you give your testimony, remember not to glorify the details of your life before you were raised from spiritual death!

Finally, I doubt Lazarus was glad to be “disquieted” (cf.ISam.28:15). Your lost loved ones would similarly be unhappy with you for bringing them back. Though your heart is heavy, let’s all wait together for the Rapture.

Related Files: