The Heights Fellowship

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter 2006: Ghost Story

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  • John 11:1-44 (The Message)

    1A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord's feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Master, the one you love so very much is sick."

    4When Jesus got the message, he said, "This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God's glory by glorifying God's Son."

    5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. 7After the two days, he said to his disciples, "Let's go back to Judea."

    8They said, "Rabbi, you can't do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you're going back?"

    9Jesus replied, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in daylight doesn't stumble because there's plenty of light from the sun. 10Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can't see where he's going."

    11He said these things, and then announced, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I'm going to wake him up."

    12The disciples said, "Master, if he's gone to sleep, he'll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine." 13Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap.

    14Then Jesus became explicit: "Lazarus died. 15And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let's go to him."

    16That's when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, "Come along. We might as well die with him."

    17When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, 19and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. 20Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.

    21Martha said, "Master, if you'd been here, my brother wouldn't have died. 22Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you."

    23Jesus said, "Your brother will be raised up."

    24Martha replied, "I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time."

    25"You don't have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. 26And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?"

    27"Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world."

    28After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, "The Teacher is here and is asking for you."

    29The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him. 30Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When her sympathizing Jewish friends saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there. 32Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, "Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died."

    33When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. 34He said, "Where did you put him?"

    "Master, come and see," they said. 35Now Jesus wept.

    36The Jews said, "Look how deeply he loved him."

    37Others among them said, "Well, if he loved him so much, why didn't he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man."

    38Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. 39Jesus said, "Remove the stone."

    The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, "Master, by this time there's a stench. He's been dead four days!"

    40Jesus looked her in the eye. "Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

    41Then, to the others, "Go ahead, take away the stone."

    They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, "Father, I'm grateful that you have listened to me. 42I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I've spoken so that they might believe that you sent me."

    43Then he shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" 44And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.

    Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him loose."

    The Message (MSG)
    Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson