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A Tale of Two Sisters - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
December 10, 2023 5:00 am

A Tale of Two Sisters - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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December 10, 2023 5:00 am

In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote his famous work, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story before us is set in Bethany near Jerusalem and highlights the personal relationship that two sisters had with Jesus Christ. Their broken hearts provide an excellent platform to consider how Christ deals with people in grief and loss. Let's actively probe not only their responses but ours to the incredible promise Jesus makes.

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There are two ultimate questions of our existence, which are number one, has anyone ever cheated death? And number two, did he make a way for me to cheat death? Answer those questions. Anybody you know cheated death?

Yeah, here's one. His name is Jesus. Did he make a way for me to cheat death? He sure did. He said in John 14, because I live, you also will live.

Welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. You've probably been told at some point in your life that honesty is the best policy. That's a lesson we like to pass on to our kids. But when it comes to what people say to God, honesty can be hard to come by. We wonder whether it's okay to tell God everything we're really thinking and feeling.

We worry about making him mad or maybe about getting into trouble. But as we'll see today, honesty is the best policy, especially when it comes to God, because whatever we have to dish out, he can handle. Now, Pastor Skip will tell us more about that here in just a moment. But first, let's see what's going on at the Connect with Skip Resource Center this month.

As we approach the end of the year, here's a special resource package we have developed to say thanks for your support. Over four decades of ministry, Pastor Skip has been able to invite some excellent speakers to fill his pulpit. We want you to hear some of these memorable messages from teachers such as Josh McDowell. God said, I want you to be able in the 21st century and open your scriptures and have a confidence, thus saith the Lord.

It has not been lost. Also a part of this pulpit package, Dr. David Jeremiah. Jesus Christ shines in the world today by his reflection in the lives of his followers. Nobody's going to see Jesus if they don't see Jesus in us. If you can make an end of year donation of $100 or more to support this program, you will receive this pulpit package of 10 excellent messages on CD or by download. You will want to hear what Joel Rosenberg said about remarkable conversions in the Middle East. That's the kind of door that when you pray, Lord, I'd love to go build a friendship in the name of Jesus with a king and with a Muslim president.

Apparently God says yes to some of these prayers. The pulpit package containing 10 different speakers, giving full length messages to request your copy. Go to connectwithskip.com or by calling 1-800-922-1888.

That is connectwithskip.com or call 1-800-922-1888. Turn in your Bibles to John chapter 11. Let's join Skip Heitzig for today's message. Part two of a tale of two sisters.

Jesus shows up, Martha pours forth, spews out what's on her mind, Lord, if you'd have been here, my brother would not have died. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to analyze that statement. I think it'll be beneficial. Notice that that statement is a limiting statement. It's limiting both in time and in space. Lord, if you had been here, as if to imply, four days ago, you could have done something about this. That was then. This is now.

Certainly, you're not going to do anything now. If you had been, that's being limited in time. But then look at the word here. If you had been here, that's limiting Jesus in space, as if Jesus couldn't do a long-distance miracle. He had to be here in Bethany. She must not have known about the story of the nobleman's son, where Jesus said, go back, your son's alive. So here's Mary struggling, honest, pours it out, and she does the same thing again. Look at verse 23. Jesus said to her, your brother will rise again. Martha said to him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day, rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Can you hear that?

You could have done something about it four days ago. You didn't. I know that someday, one day, in the sweet by and by, all that resurrection stuff. Yeah, I'm there. I get that.

But not here and not now. Martha is struggling. That's really all I want you to see with this. She's struggling. Her faith in God is challenged by the disappointment that she finds in life.

We all do that. Now, we skipped verse 22, and I want to go back to it, but in the context of verse 21. Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you'd have been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you. Now, that sort of sounds like she's saying, should have been here.

You could have done something about it. But even out, you could still raise him from the dead. It sort of sounds like she's asking him for resurrection of her brother.

While it sounds that way, I personally don't believe that's what she meant, and here's why. In a little while, Jesus is going to walk right up to the tomb of Lazarus until the tomb attendants roll away the stone. Who will protest? Martha. Martha will go, Lord, he's been dead four days. By now, he stinketh.

That's the King James. I can't resist that. It's just too cool. He stinketh. Four days dead.

It's gross in there. So that doesn't sound like a lot of faith, does it? So here's what I think is happening. She's struggling with her faith. She's saying, yeah, Lord, I know you're powerful and you can do anything, but been dead four days. It's a struggle.

Here's what I think. I think she just pours out her heart and then she catches herself. Here's the pouring out of the heart. Lord, if you'd have been here, my brother wouldn't have died. Ooh, I'm talking to Jesus. That didn't sound very spiritual. Now, Lord, I know that you can do anything. This is not unlike the man who had a demon-possessed son, brought him to Jesus, and Jesus said, he was at the end of his rope, Jesus said, if you believe, anything is possible to him who believes. Remember what the man said? He said, Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.

You get that? I believe, but I don't believe. I'm struggling here. I'm struggling believing you. That's the honest pouring forth of my heart, that struggle. People in grief struggle. Where were you, Lord, when my child died? Where were you, Lord, when my marriage dissolved? Where were you, Lord, when my parents divorced? Where were you, Lord, when my father became an alcoholic? Where were you, God, when I lost my job?

Where were you, God, when my son or daughter walked away? That's the honest struggle. But then we say that or we feel that and we catch ourselves and we go, oh, yeah, but praise the Lord, I'm supposed to say that. It's just who we are.

It's normal struggle through the times of life. And what I want you to notice is Jesus' response. It's not a lecture, not a sermon, not a correction. It's a short, positive statement, no rebuke, no condemnation. Your brother will rise again.

I suppose Jesus could have said, Martha, I can't believe you just said that to me. Do you realize who I am? You know, I came here and I was like, I can erase your brother from the dead, but you know, now all bets are off. I was like, I was a little too disrespectful.

No, short, it was positive. It was uplifting. Instead, he uses that opportunity to reveal more of himself. He says in verse 25, again, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? And she said to him, yes, Lord, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world. So it's okay to grieve.

It's okay to mourn and, hear me, and it's okay to be honest with God and pour out your feeling and your heart before him without any reservation. Last time I checked, he can handle it. Last time I checked, he's been around a long time. He's heard it all. He's seen it all. In fact, I actually get a little bit amazed and grateful of how much honesty is in the prayers of David in the book of Psalms.

And he didn't hold back. And God kept it as a record so we can go, oh, wow, even he did that. Listen to David. This is Psalm 13. Oh, Lord, how long will you forget me forever?

That's pretty honest. How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?

How long will my enemies have the upper hand? Now, none of those experiences were actually true, but it was true that David was feeling them, and he honestly records them, and God thought it important to preserve that. That's honest prayer.

Here's another one. Psalm 58. David says, concerning his enemies who are around him, concerning his enemies who are around him, break their teeth in their mouths, oh, God. I've always liked that Psalm, not because I like to see people's teeth broken, but simply because that's gutsy. That's honest, and that is in the Bible.

You know what that tells me? God is unshockable. God is unshockable. When you pray something or you say something, God never goes, oh, he's heard it all. You think when Mary and Martha said, if you'd have been here, my brother wouldn't have died, Jesus went, oh, not at all.

Your brother will rise again. You got to understand something. When you pray, even if it's a really great prayer, it doesn't impress God.

Do you understand that? You think God ever goes, wow, now that was such a cool prayer. Gabriel, write that down. MP3 that. We've got to have that as an archive.

That was great. You don't impress Him. You can't impress Him.

And if you can't impress Him by your prayers, I don't think you'll disappoint Him by your honest prayers either. Charles Spurgeon put it this way, there is not a secret in my heart that I would not pour into the ears of my God. So Martha pours it out. That's Jesus and Martha. Now let's look at Jesus and Mary, verse 28. And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary, her sister saying, the teacher has come and is calling for you or the master is calling for you.

As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the town but was in the place where Martha met Him. So He's still coming up the hill from the Dead Sea region.

He's still walking up. He's still not in Bethany and He stays there. Then the Jews who were with her in the house and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her saying, she's going to the tomb to weep there. They're mourners. Their job was to attend to her. Then when Mary came where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell down at His feet saying to Him, Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died. Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.

Now back up. Evidently, Jesus told Martha secretly, privately, to go give an invitation to Mary, her sister, to come privately and talk to Him, which she did. She complied. And she comes out to see Him. Now anybody reading this can immediately see Mary said exactly the same thing Martha did.

Exactly. But she made the statement and then she stopped. Anybody who reads this and compares it closely can see there is a difference.

And here's the difference. Martha debates with Jesus. Mary, however, you'll notice, falls at His feet, though brokenhearted, at His feet. And I would contend and say, worshipped in love. Mary has the same words of Martha. I contend has a different attitude, an attitude of worship. Now, when we first meet Mary and Martha, that's Luke chapter 10.

I already mentioned it once this week, once last week. In Luke chapter 10, when they first met, that's the night that Jesus is invited over. Lazarus is alive, healthy. Mary's there. Martha's there. Martha scurries about. She's busy. She's complaining. She's doing all the work. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His word.

So let me frame it this way. When the days are good and the sun is shining and everybody's alive and everybody's happy and it's dinnertime, where is Mary? At the feet of Jesus. But when the days are cloudy and the sun isn't shining and it's her brother's funeral day, where's Mary? Same place. Same place. See the difference? Martha's on her feet.

Mary's at His feet. Now, you're going to go through both kind of days. So am I. You're going to have good days, bad days, days of joy, days of sorrow, days of gaining, days of profound loss and mourning. How are you going to do on those days? Well, it depends on your position. Some of you, the only way you deal with grief is on your feet. You marshal through it. You stuff down the emotions. You just move on. You don't talk about it.

And I don't know how far that wall is off, but you'll hit it one day. You can be on your feet or you can be at His feet. Job, who suffered, said, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I think that's Mary's position.

An old Chinese proverb said, in the presence of trouble, some people grow wings, other people buy crutches. Mary sprouts her wings, sprouts her wings at Jesus' feet on the good days, at His feet in submission and love and worship on the bad days. That's Jesus and Martha. That's Jesus and Mary. I want to now look at Jesus in you and me.

Go back now to verse 25 and 26, that promise, and notice something. Jesus said to her, that's Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And what's the next word? Whoever, not just you, Martha, not just her, Mary, whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

See, that's an unconditional statement without any time boundary. Whoever. Whoever. You would be a whoever. I would be a whoever.

Somebody who lives in Afghanistan or Iraq or South America or Europe would also be considered whoever. It's broad enough term. What a broad statement.

What an incredibly broad promise. Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? The resurrection is more than an event.

It's a person. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the resurrection. In other words, wherever Jesus is, death doesn't stand a chance. And He will conquer death, whether it's your body, my body, Lazarus' body, or His own body. In the presence of Jesus, there is life. I am the resurrection.

I am the life. One author said there are two ultimate questions of our existence, which are, number one, has anyone ever cheated death? And number two, did He make a way for me to cheat death? Answer those questions. Anybody you know cheated death?

Yeah, here's one. His name is Jesus. Did He make a way for me to cheat death?

He sure did. He said in John 14, because I live, you also will live. And Paul said, when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory. I am the resurrection and the life.

In other words, where I am, things are going to change. Now, this is the fifth of seven I am statements in the Gospel of John. Remember how we told you as we go through? Seven times, Jesus said, I am something. He said, number one, I am the bread of life. Number two, I am the light of the world. Number three, I am the door to the sheepfold. Number four, I am the good shepherd. Now number five, I am the resurrection and the life.

And there's two more to go. I am the resurrection and the life. Now look at the question and apply it. Do you believe this? See, that's the theme of the book, isn't it? Believe. Do you believe this, Martha? Do you believe this? Do you really believe this? And now is the moment of truth to ask yourself, do I really believe this stuff?

Because if I really believe this stuff, and moreover, and more definitely, if I believe this promise, you know what that means? That means death is no big deal. Honestly, death is not a big deal. What is death? Death simply opens the door for more life. Death catapults me into the eternal presence of God. That's why when Paul wrote about death in 1 Corinthians 15, he mocked death. He said, death or oh grave, where is your sting? Oh death, where is your victory?

Because for a believer, death is nothing. It's graduation day. It's coronation day.

Coronation day. Do you really believe this? Because it makes all the difference now and forever. I'm going to read you the words of a woman who really does believe this, and I want you to hear the difference.

See if you know any unbeliever that has this kind of attitude. Here's a woman who wrote me a card. I jogged my memory, and I thought I do remember meeting here some years ago, but she gave me a Christmas card this year with a note in it.

Dear Pastor Skip, we listen to you on the radio every day here in California. We live through much joy in our marriage, 62 years of marriage, and some sad times and some losses. Two daughters, one age 43 who died of cervical cancer, leaving three children.

One daughter, age 52, who died of liver cancer, plus a granddaughter that hung herself because her mom died. But we have never despaired, knowing God is in everything and true in His love, and even when I laid in a hospital in a coma from a lung infection. So here's a lady who said, you know, like Mary, when the days were really good and really happy, 62 years of marriage, I'm at Jesus' feet. And when life was really bad and there were some bad days, I was at Jesus' feet. And then she concludes, and she said, our life is in Jesus and our witness is in His love always. And then she wrote a little P.S., I never wrote a pastor a card before. So I felt very special, and she said, I hope I didn't say too much. Actually, she said just the right amount. Very edifying. Okay, so here's the close on this.

Here's the deal on this. Martha goes to Mary and says, the master's calling for you. What does Mary do? She got up what? Immediately, she shot up and ran out. And people around her thought, well, that's weird. Where's she going?

They didn't even get it. And do you think really that she cared if they got it or not? No, she just, Jesus is here.

I'm going to go see him. Do you think her response was, hey, the master's calling for you. Oh, okay, cool. Whatever.

I'm not into that. I mean, I'll think about it. Maybe not now.

Maybe later. Like the little girl who somebody asked her, do you obey your mother? And she said, I always do what she asks me to, but sometimes I go slow. Did Mary go slow?

Not at all. She ran out to Jesus. Didn't care what anybody thought of the decorum.

She just went out and ran and was with him. Maybe you haven't come to Christ yet. Maybe you're a bit worried. Well, you know, if I were to actually make a commitment to Christ and find it to be true and real, I don't know what my friends would think about that.

Well, really think about it. If they're really your friends and they know you're going to heaven, they'll like it. If they don't like it, get some new friends. Don't worry about what anybody else thinks about the most important decision in your life. Don't let anybody else's opinion keep you away from his call. In fact, like Mary, you might be inspiring a few others to tag along. The master is calling for you.

Well, the most important decision we'll ever make is to make a commitment to Christ. And as Skip Heitzig reminded us today, he's calling out for you. If you'd like to talk with someone about how you can step up to the challenge, how you can answer the call of a relationship with Jesus Christ, we'd love to talk with you about what that means. Just call us at 1-800-922-1888. We'd be happy to explain to you what you need to do to answer the call of Christ.

And that about wraps things up today. But before we go, we share these messages to help you know God better as you connect to him through his word and grow in your walk with Jesus. When you give a gift to support this ministry, you help keep these teachings you love available to you and so many others around the world so they too can grow and connect more deeply with God. Just call 800-922-1888 to give a gift today.

That's 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. And if you'd like a copy of today's teaching, A Tale of Two Sisters, it's available on CD for just $4 plus shipping when you contact us at 1-800-922-1888. Or when you visit connectwithskip.com or write to us at P.O.

Box 95707, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87199. Death is something to hate, but nothing we ever need to be afraid of. Find out more and join us next time right here on Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Connecting you to God's never changing truth. In ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-10 04:15:19 / 2023-12-10 04:24:59 / 10

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