When sorrow comes
pouring into your life,
and it will, you may not know the reason why,
but you can be sure the reason is not that God doesn’t love you.
Only Christianity has a God who entered into our suffering,
who went all the way to the cross for us, and
who weeps when we weep.
Beginning in John 11, a chapter filled with such sorrow and joy,
Jesus makes a deliberate turn toward the cross,
knowing that raising Lazarus from the dead will surely lead to His own death.
This is such a familiar passage, but I saw new things this time, truths I need to speak to my soul, and I believe you will be so strengthened too.
A key difference between religion and the gospel
is shown in how we approach suffering.
|When circumstances in my life go wrong,||When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle,|
|I am angry at God or myself, since||but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that|
|I believe that anyone who is good||while God may allow this for my training, he will|
|deserves a comfortable life.||exercise His Fatherly love within my trial.|
This understanding is key to a gospel-transformed life and is so beautifully illustrated for us in this chapter. This understanding rescued me and my children when my husband died.
When the enemy crawled up to my window and whispered:
You deserve this Dee, you are such an idiot.
I was able to slam that window down on his slimy fingers with
the gospel truth, which I knew, but needed to tell my soul again:
“When a Christian suffers, it is never because God is punishing him because Jesus paid for his sin IN FULL at the cross
and it is FINISHED!”
IN THE STORY WE WILL READ, SUFFERING CAME INTO THE LIFE OF THREE WHOM WE ARE TOLD “JESUS LOVED.”
IT COULDN’T BE STATED MORE CLEARLY:
NOW JESUS LOVED MARTHA AND HER SISTER AND LAZARUS.
DO YOU ALSO BELIEVE HE LOVES YOU?
AND DO YOU BELIEVE HE IS IN CONTROL OF EVERYTHING?
A WOMAN I HAVE COME TO GREATLY ADMIRE IS
AS A TEEN SHE BECAME BLIND.
IT IS HER CONFIDENCE IN THESE TWO THINGS
(GOD’S LOVE AND GOD’S CONTROL)
THAT HAS TRANSFORMED HER INTO THE WOMEN SHE IS.
WATCH THIS AND THEN SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
Prepare your heart with this:
HE LOVES (WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE HE DOESN’T)
Read slowly John 11:1-16
3. What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5?
In the ESV, we see a startling “so”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
4. What does this So, teach you?
5. Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea? And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow?
6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?
While Jesus’ words in verses 9 and 10 seem cryptic, David Jeremiah explains that we must walk by a different light source than natural light. What seems to make no sense by human wisdom, makes sense in God’s wisdom.
7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?
8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15? Comment.
Read John 11:17-27
9. What question does Jesus ask Martha when she comes to Him in her grief? (verses 25-26) And how does she respond?
10. How does this apply to you in any suffering you are facing?
I personally believe that this is when Martha’s control idol cracked. She could not control her brother’s illness. She had to submit to the Lord and she did it before she saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead. By faith, she believed He loved her and that He was in control — for He was the GREAT I AM.
HE WEEPS (WHEN IT SEEMS HE DOESN’T CARE)
11. Read John 11:28-37
A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35?
B. What contrasting responses did those watching have?
C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?
12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes?
HE OVERCOMES (WHEN YOU THINK ALL HOPE IS GONE)
13. Read John 11:30-44
A. What evidence can you find that Martha is really going to be astounded?
B. How do you think you would have felt if you witnessed this?
C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)
D. What pain or illness in yourself or someone you love do you know one day will be overcome?
14. What, according to John 11:57, did this miracle lead to?
Listen to Matthew Smith sing ‘O Lord, Comfort Me” and comment on how Christ’s agony can comfort you. http://matthewsmith.us/videos
Thursday-Friday: Free Tim Keller Sermon “The Furious Love of Jesus”
15. Share your thoughts on the above sermon.
16. What is your take-a-way and why?
15. Share your thoughts on the above sermon. Sermon is so clarifying. I’ll listen again, because I scrambled to take notes and missed some things. At first when I heard him use the titles of liberal and conservative, I was taken aback because I don’t feel like I ever fit into one or the other. (In politics, if someone asks if I’m liberal or conservative, I have to ask; ‘on which issue?’. And it is sometimes that way in what I believe theologically too.) But, as usual, Keller makes it all so clear. We have to have BOTH as Jesus had both. We have to have truth as Jesus gave the truth to Martha. We have to have tears as Jesus cried with Mary. Sometimes, we must give tears to Mary now and truth to her later. Sometimes, we must give Martha truth and minister with tears with her later. We will have a lot of one or the other because of our temperament (and maybe because of our background? my question) but we can’t have/use just one or the other. The way we know that God is being formed in us, in when we see both in our lives. Also, I have heard that when Jesus raised Lazarus, he was ‘signing his own death warrant’ but I did not understand that until this week and especially from this message. I also did not know or understand the way Jesus raged at death here. And how the translations (except Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Message’, don’t get the words right). I love that he quoted Dylan Thomas ‘Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage. rage. against the dying of the light’ because that is what Jesus did for us. He raged at the enemy and he went after it. He wasn’t mad at Mary and Martha for weeping. Wailing loudly is what it says. And he wasn’t mad at himself (why should we be mad at God when someone dies. He entered INTO suffering and death.) He was mad at death! It wasn’t His idea. He didn’t create it and He came to rage against it. EXCELLENT teaching of the humanity and the divinity of Jesus. The tears and the truth. Oh. I want so many people I love to hear this message.
Wanda, I echo your thoughts on the clarity of Keller’ sermon. Truth and tears. What balancing act to do on a daily basis in a fallen world. Many times I am a Martha. JESUS was such a great example of being insightful to the personality of the people He ministers to. He knows just what they need to hear and how to show He cares. What a good quality to develop in ourselves! I never have paid attention to the different responses of Jesus to Martha’s and Mary’s statement, “Lord if you were here…” Jesus love would come full circle for me if I would have been there and heard Him say He is the resurrection and the life and hear Him weep. Truth and tears. What a wonderful Savior!
The furious love of Jesus is an incredible sermon on this story of suffering and reveals how Jesus had to treat each of the sisters differently as the ministry of “truth and tears” must teach who he is: the God man.
John wrote it because it happened. Jesus displayed all these emotions of anger, sadness and compassion.
The statement, “Tears without truth aren’t valid.” is a very significant point. So much is taught in this sermon. I also wondered about linking these two
perspectives to conservative and liberal viewpoints. I need to think on this.
But even more important is the fact that by raising Lazarus, the approaching death of Jesus is now a plan,as some of the Jews present went to the Pharisees.
Sister’s. ..especially Mary…I’m so sorry I have not been on to pray for you. I got caught up …In my own little world ….with my new knee surgery about 10 days ago. I’m doing as well as expected. ..still a lot of pain…but it’s getting better. Thank you for your prayers.
Laura…I remember telling you to pray that verse over and over when you had chemo. It really helps me…any words of Jesus does!
I wish I lived on Ohio! But I’m a small town Nebraska girl…all my life! But Oh …how I would love to hug you all! I will be praying for everything to work out according to Gods plans and for you too Dee…now and for every retreat.
Just know your in my prayers Mary…all the time…and for all of you…each going through the fire at different times:(
Love you all.
Thanks for your prayers. My planes were on time. I was tired last night but it went pretty well. Sense the enemy at work here however, would love continued prayer.
Praying for your day, Dee!
Dee – will be continuing to pray throughout the day! The enemy works hardest where the Spirit is working powerfully, don’t you think? Cold comfort perhaps, but take heart! “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance…” Philippians 1:19 – amen!
Dee, praying right now for you for renewed strength and a God given capacity to minister to many of the attendees. Sorry to have missed seeing you this week-end but will pray for another time.
Exodus 14:14 Our God fights for us.
Dee, Have been praying for you since last night. At 7:28 pm (looked at computer clock!) last night, I “heard” the message loud and clear to pray for Dee NOW, that the enemy be bound, that the Lord will protect and strengthen you. Not usually how I start praying, but I did sense urgency.
I must be just enough “frozen chosen” that I feel very awkward writing this — but I’ve heard later about some substantial battles that had been taking place when I’ve heard that message before. Also have been amazed to hear that people were praying for me at the exact time when I needed it first.
I am behind, but working through the lesson. So many hard things to wrestle through…I was on the “so” question (Jesus loved them, so he delayed…” and then how he says that for their sake, He was glad He was not there, so that they might believe. Our human response is often to come running and try to fix everything…may not be the wisest thing to do.
My take away:
The little word “SO”. I am still trying to wrap my mind around this word as it applies to the passage as well as what Jennifer R. said about being “thankful for”.
Paul Tripp in a recent video expressed the similar theme of thankfulness in the midst of his diagnosis of 3rd stage kidney disease. “If this condition is what it took to birth in me a deeper appreciation of the gospel or a clearer vision of ministry, I am in. Bring it on. It is the pathway that is called grace. Nothing in life can separate us from the love of God; not even death.”
The reading for today is Numbers 11-13. And in Chapter 11, after the Israelites complained of eating manna only, God spoke to Moses and in verse 23 asked a rhetorical question: “Is the Lord’s arm too short?” I marvel at the Israelites complaining especially after they have experienced the parting of the Red Sea. But I realized I am just like them, too. I have seen the faithfulness of God in the past but when a new trial comes, like my sister’s cancer, I seemed to be surprised and doubtful of what God is doing.
I am slowly comprehending that through life’s changing seasons and circumstances, there is One who never changes and stays the same. He loves me and He weeps with me, He will overcome even when hope seems gone and if I let Him, will transform me to be like Him. Oh how He loves you and me!
My Takeaway: Truth and Tears. And how we need them both to come alongside others and to interpret Jesus words. We have a natural bent toward one or the other. (though I think that the ‘bent’ is somewhat influenced by our upbringing and current influences) but in Keller’s words, We know that the image of God is being formed in us when we are seeing and using both truth and tears. (paraphrase) Also, the strong emphasis that God is the only deity that people worship who has voluntarily entered into our suffering. He became vulnerable and withstood the pain inflicted on Him by those he created, so that when we suffer, it is not for punishment. He has already taken our punishment and in overcoming death, has made overcoming suffering possible.
Takeaway: It has been a wonderful, foundational reminder this week, allowing distress to last seconds rather than days. “Now Jesus loved ____. So…” Then, at the end of the passage, what he did led to his arrest. This is the whole package; it comes back to His LOVE.
1) LET THIS SOAK IN: Now Jesus loved Renee
2) SO… I can trust that what he allows me to experience is out of love for me.
3) From my very limited perspective, I can neither see nor understand the purpose of some experiences; yet Jesus suffered and died so that I might live. He gave EVERYTHING because He loves me.
15. Share your thoughts on the above sermon.Hmmm… have been thinking about this. I’m not sure that I completely agree with the conservative/liberal, truth/tears distinctions. Seems too simplistic; I believe in BOTH nature AND nurture 🙂 During the first part of the sermon, I spent too much energy trying to figure out what I was (stoic Scandinavian or tearful, bleeding heart)
Keller said that Jesus greatness is shown by his weakness, the combination of greatness, weakness, meekness. Jesus is the PERFECT example of this, of doing it voluntarily. LOVE THAT. But I also think that people often are a combination, though the balance is out of whack. e.g., I don’t think we should ALWAYS start with tears for Mary & truth for Martha. That seems too dichotomous for me.
Keller also said that Jesus is weeping because he sees us. Because he loves us, he’s not just weeping. He comes after death. He’s not mad at them; He’s not mad at their grief; He’s not mad at himself. He’s mad at death. He’s about to do battle. Jesus knew he was forcing the hand of his enemies. The only way to interrupt Lazarus’ funeral was to sign his own death warrant. He’s not just looking at Lazarus, he’s looking at us. He’s bellowing with rage, furious love. I liked the title before; now that I understand what it means, I LOVE it!!
Application, how to deal with evil, suffering, brokenness:
1) Don’t become a stoic when you confront evil & suffering. Jesus gets mad at death & evil. He goes after it. He doesn’t get mad at them weeping. Jesus will have non of Eastern philosophy stoicism or conservative Christian stoicism. (tried this, can’t keep it up forever. Maybe I used to think Christianity was willpower to be a fake)
One of most powerful, applicable statements in sermon for me: “What is faith? Faith is trust in his grace, not your ability to keep it up. Jesus doesn’t get mad at those who are wailing. A stoic approach is a pat answer. Jesus doesn’t do that. Jesus could snap his fingers and get rid of suffering and death. That comes from sin, rebellion. Our sin has created a world in which the more you love, the more you suffer. The most loving person who ever came into the world suffered the most. he knows that the only way to save us is to get involved with suffering. Even Jesus cannot love without suffering. Suffering will make you loving. Loving will make you suffering. if you love God and people and in the process you suffer, you will be redeeming and part of the redemptive work of God in your life.
2) Do not be in despair; be mad at suffering, poverty, disease.
Minister in truth and tears.
Processing more: The answer to stoicism or to fixing is not to balance stoicism by adding tears. I probably grew up stoic, not because of temperament, but because of my understanding of conservative Christianity. The stoicism broke; I couldn’t keep it up, and I ended up in despair.
Unlike I thought at the beginning of the sermon, now I do not think this is about balancing truth and tears. It’s about trusting His grace, whereby He transforms me so that the ultimate result is a perfect integration of truth and tears. When I am trying to “balance” or apply one style to one person, another style to someone else, it becomes about my “ability to keep it up” rather than about His work in my life and my responsiveness to his leading. Keller’s application isn’t “Renee, you need to balance truth and tears.” It is, “Jesus loves you; love Him; you will suffer, and the result will be that He will give the grace to minister in truth and tears.” It’s easy for me to get cause & effect mixed up — had to rewind to my researcher brain and heart to process this one. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean I tossed my spiritual mind and heart out the window.Definitely got a lot out of the sermon, but still confused about the dichotomous stuff.
aaaggghhh… I hope I don’t go running around trying to apply some truth and tears formula to people. That would be really obnoxious (I am in “figure it out” mode at the moment, and the formulaic approach is definitely conceivable). God, grant me wisdom.
Renee, for what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s a simplistic neat dichotomy either, but I do think that understanding the differences in both temperament and responses is really helpful in ministering to others. I think there’s nature both and nurture too, because I can see very opposite kinds of temperament and ways of responding in myself and in my siblings as well as differences in my children. I don’t like using the terms liberal and conservative in anything! They miserably fail to define someone (hence my remarks earlier) but I suppose you have to start somewhere in trying to describe. It’s never going to look as much like a dichotomy in the day to day, year after year as it does in this example of Martha and Mary, but what I think IS important is not getting stuck on whatever leaning one has and ‘forcing’ that on others as the only way to approach something. I’ve seen that in ministry and it always leads to dissent and stagnation of growth. So I did like that Keller said that when we’re using both, the image of Christ is forming in us.
Notes/thoughts on sermon (sorry for the space, I am out of time to condense) Keller-Furious Love of Jesus-John 11-Lazarus
I liked this insight on the passage; There is no better place in the Bible that depicts Jesus as Emmanuel—God with us, God in the flesh. The language used of Jesus loving them is un-paralleled intimacy, intimate bond. Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick, and by the time He is there, he is dead. Martha and Mary have the same comment for Jesus, ‘if You had been here, my brother would not have died’, yet His response to each is completely different.
To Martha, He tells her He is the resurrection. When Mary says the same thing, His response is completely different. One commentary says this contrasts proves that this is not fiction. With Martha, He speaks; with Mary He is speechless. With Martha, He is bold, confident, teaching, He confronts the flow of her heart. With Mary, He breaks down, He enters into the flow of her heart.
This passage shows us Who He is–the God-Man. He is both weeping, and in control. The ministry of truth and tears—you must have both. To Martha, He brings truth. To Mary, He brings tears. Because of His “high-ness”, He is able to bring truth. Because of His “low-ness” He can enter into Mary’s pain. To be healed, we must have both.
Truth without tears—conservative approach—here’s the truth, ‘buck up’
Tears without truth—liberal model, is disingenuous, it says ‘there is no truth’, so it gives no weight to your pain
We need infinite highness and infinite lowness. Nothing else will heal, nothing but the Incarnate God will help me, heal me.
Application: Some of us have a conservative or liberal natural temperament. We can be fixers (truth only). Others are feelers, good at entering in, but not at giving answers. Neither one is like Jesus.
The way you know you are becoming more like Him is when you are able to do both, and the less natural response begins to come from you.
This passage also shows us what He came to do. The rage tells us what He came to do. Because He is Man, and He loves these people, He sees the havoc of death—therefore the tears. But because He is God, He interrupts the funeral. But He also sees all the funerals throughout history that He will not interrupt. He is not just weeping about Lazarus, or Mary and Martha. He is thinking about all of us. And because He loves us, He doesn’t just weep. We don’t just need tears—we need more. He is not mad at their grief, He is not mad at Himself, He is mad at death. He approaches in a rage because He is about to go into battle. Just after this scene, the Pharisees hold a council and decide to plot to take Jesus life. Jesus knew that if He raised Lazarus, He would bring on His own death.
Jesus gets mad at dearth, at evil, and goes after it. The 2 things He does not get mad at—their grief, nor Himself. So the first thing we must not do when we confront evil in our lives and others, is become a stoic.
Our sin has created a world in which the more you love te more you suffer. CS Lewis—if you don’t want to suffer, don’t love. The more you obey God, the more you suffer. If you want to be loving, you must suffer. The Cross proves it. In order to destroy evil and suffering without destroying us, He has to come into the world Himself and take on the suffering Himself. He has ever right to be mad at us, but He forgives us. He knows the only way to save us is for Him to get involved in suffering. He died on the Cross, and through this process of sacrifice and suffering, He redeems us. The only place to be safe from suffering, is Hell—where your heart is so hard, you cannot love or feel others’ pain—you only feel un-redemptive suffering. To love others, and suffer, is to be a part of the redemptive work of Christ in my life.
? It seemed interesting to me, that while Jesus models both truth and tears, in this passage, He gives only one to each sister. Does this imply that sometimes, our right response, is either truth or tears, depending on the person & circumstance? I’m not feeling well today, so may not be thinking through that correctly!
Yes, my prayer, too, is God give me wisdom.
Suffering is difficult, and it is a part of my life. Oh how He loves you and me.
May I see your truth and may I remain compassionate. May you surround each of my
sisters on this blog with your love and may we be continually ministering to each other
and to our families. Praying also for Dee and that she will be strengthened and guided by your Spirit.
Shirley. ..a big AMEN to that!
My path is congruent, though not smooth, in His hands.
Tears AND Truth, don’t be a fixer or a feeler, be BOTH.
Religion vs. Gospel always impacts me and God uses it to open my eyes a little further (why is it so easy to forget? Like Renee said, these things need to soak in so deep that they become a part of my very fiber instead of me forgetting and “dropping” them…)
I am convicted anew that God loves us so much and allows things because He loves us not in spite of loving us. I cannot understand, but I can (with His help) trust.
The Jennifer Rothchild video.
“I am convicted anew that God loves us so much and allows things because He loves us not in spite of loving us. I cannot understand, but I can (with His help) trust.”
I’m with you, sister…amazing love!
Agreed…another wonderfully clarifying, thought provoking, enriching Keller sermon…Wow! I will re-listen and be sharing the link with others to listen. So much to take in and digest…the Lord’s love is unfathomable; how incredibly blessed we are to have a Lord that loves us with both truth and tears.