On Friday, things weren’t looking good! (see John 19:28-30 and John 19:38-42).
Jesus had been betrayed by one of his own followers. He was arrested, falsely accused, flogged, crucified, and buried! Jesus was dead! And so were the disciples’ Messianic hopes and dreams. Everything Jesus taught and his place in history was in question! Somewhere around the 9th hour on Friday (3 PM), Jesus uttered, "It is finished"; he was dead!
On Sunday morning things looked different! (see John 20:1-8)
The tomb was empty! Mary Magdalene, the other women, and the disciples were in shock and dis-belief! Where was the body of Jesus? Then, Jesus began to appear to the disciples and then others. Nothing would ever be the same! Jesus was dead, now He was alive!
We all love great comeback stories. I remember watching the video of a college track athlete who fell down during and 800 meter race. Amazingly she got back up and caught the runners in front of her and won the race. Jesus' resurrection just might be the most surprising comeback of all time. He was dead and then unexpectedly alive -- that one reality can change your life today!
Let me share with you four Great Comebacks that I've been thinking about from John 11.
1. I can comeback from death (John 11:1-16) — Lazarus’ Resurrection
In John’s gospel, we read about another resurrection. Jesus’ friend, Lazarus was sick. BTW . . sickness, death, and sin all run together in the same pack! What I mean is that we all have these things in common . . . They are a part of the human experience—we live in a sinful world that pulls us down to death and despair! That’s why the words of Jesus “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) and the reality of his resurrection are so powerful!
Sickness and death were common in those days, just as in our day. Death is a serious matter! There is a finality to death that we just don’t like. But we all have “death” in common. 120 years from now, we will all be dead! So what happens after death really matters! Because of Christ’ resurrection, I can comeback form death!
When Jesus heard of this sickness, he purposefully delayed and so Lazarus died. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Jesus was coming to set Lazarus free from death. He would rise to life as an example of what Jesus would do for all those who believe in Him!
Lazarus died so that God’s glory might be revealed and many believe! Jesus said to his disciples, “"Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (11:11) and again he said to them, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (11:14-15)
2. I can comeback from despair [11:21-22, 32]
The opposite of despair is hope. Humans need hope! We survive and thrive off of hope. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope to overcome any obstacle in our lives! Because Jesus delayed, Mary and Martha despaired. They lost hope. When Jesus came, hope came with him!
A counselor once said that when a couple comes to see him, no matter how damaged the marriage is—even if it’s 100 percent damaged—he has only one goal. If he can get that couple to have 10 percent improvement, they’ll make it. Because when somebody gets 10 percent improvement, they get hope.
3. I can comeback from defeat [John 11:14, 33]
We don’t know much about Lazarus. Only that he was a friend of Jesus and a brother. As we meet him in John 11, he is sick and soon dead. He is defeated! His time on earth is over. Whatever he was going to do with his life, he has already done! But, then Jesus came and orchestrated an unexpected comeback. Jesus came and Lazarus received a new “lease on life”! We do know that his resurrection caused a great stir, such that the chief priests made plans to kill him along with Jesus (John 12:9-11). Lazarus was dead, but not he was alive. He was defeated, but now victorious!
4. I can comeback from doubt (John 11:25)
On Easter morning the tomb was empty, Jesus’ body was missing, and the angels declared, “He is not here, He is risen!” Could it be?! Could Jesus’ prediction about his death and resurrection really be happening?! All the evidence was pointing to the reality of the resurrection. Would the disciples believe this? Thomas refused to believe until he saw the risen Jesus face to face!
Likewise, in Lazarus' resurrection, the real issue was faith. Could Mary and Martha believe in Jesus as the resurrection and the life?
This Easter, I hope you choose to belief that Jesus is the resurrection and the life! Make it personal.