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April 22, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Layton Talbert continues the Seminary Chapel series entitled “Loving God,” with a message titled “Loving God Amid Suffering” from John 11.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Senior's intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything, so he established daily chapel services today. That tradition continues with fervent preaching from the University Chapel platform today on The Daily Platform were continuing a study series called loving God.
These messages were preached in a special seminary chapel for students preparing for ministry today speaker is Dr. Layton Talbert, a seminary professor at Bob Jones University. The title of his message is loving God amid suffering from John 11. The title that I was given for today is loving God with a heart that endure suffering, or maybe a little bit more simply loving God amid suffering and the question occurred to me. Where would you expect me to go for a text on a topic like this, Alice.
If you can guess the book begins with a J0 obvious right turn to John 11 John 11 and ideally I would prefer a text that actually expresses a person's love for God in the context of suffering circumstances. But I don't know of a verse like that, even in the life of Christ at another verse like that that expressly states someone's love for God amid difficult circumstances is not to say that just because the passage doesn't explicitly say it's not so but it does mean I need to change my strategy a little bit from what I would normally perhaps do with the topic like this, but one of the things that can challenge our love for the Lord is when we are in difficult circumstances and the temptation because of the circumstances, to think that such circumstances, imply or at least suggest the possibility that perhaps he doesn't love us so very much and we know better than that when we we have our theology. We have orthodoxy we we know better than that. But knowing is a lot different than feeling and we can even doubt or wonder about things on a visceral level that we know on an intellectual level in this temptation. To wonder about God's love for you becomes especially acute when the difficulties are ongoing because God seems to be inexplicably unnecessarily. It seems to us not responding, not answering, not hearing us not doing anything to relieve the difficulty that we find ourselves in, and for this morning. I don't have a formal outline. I just want to invite you to take kind of a walk with me through this passage.
This is the extent of the substance, you will see on the screen just to give you nice picture look at one take a walk through this passage together and noticed some of the things that there are along the way. John 11 beginning at verse one. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair. His brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore, his sister sent him to him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lobbyist is sick and this was, not an inconvenient seasonal virus, but Lazarus had contracted. Clearly they are concerned for him. Jesus, on the other hand, clearly seemed not to be verse four when Jesus heard that, he said, this sickness is not in the death, but for the glory of God that the son of God may be glorified, thereby, in his response appears so casual that we might have supposed that he felt no particular attachment or obligation to this family, but John immediately counters that misimpression in the next verse.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus and yet what we read next. Seems to counter that seems to contradict that statement. Verse six when he heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was and John's choice of conjunction. Here appears nonintuitive. It appears awkward. It appears unnatural, which I would suggest is evidence that it is in fact deliberate and intentional. The connection between Jesus, hearing of Lazarus illness and what he does next. The connector is not yet is not despite it's not.
Nevertheless, it's not a contrastive conjunction as though Jesus action was in some sense a contradiction to that love is an inferential conjunction word of explanation so therefore consequently these things being so when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was. In other words, verse six doesn't contrast it continues the thought of verse five, not just to cover my bases because we have great grammar teachers in here and Greek students. It could technically function as a transitional conjunction. When Jesus heard. Then he stayed where he was, but the larger point I think still stands if there is a connection and not a contradiction between Jesus love for this family and verse five. In his response to the news of Lazarus illness in verse six and I want to dare to suggest that translators and commentators who ignore or replace the force of that spirit directed conjunction are doing a disservice to the sacred text and short-circuiting the theology that's conveyed even in that conjunction, and yes even a conjunction can can convey can carry theological freight when it's attached to a to a context like this.
So what was it than that actually prompted Jesus to delay his arrival and his presence without family is delayed intervention and all the consternation and confusion that it surely must have caused to Mary and Martha and others was prompted by his love and lowers his love was the reason that he withheld the comfort of his presence and his help. That's what the text says he loved them. Therefore, he stayed where he was for two more days or let me say it this way. He doesn't delay despite his love.
If he delays it is because of his love is what the text is conveying to us, not some concern to rescue Jesus from the appearance of cruelty by causing knowingly causing you considerable degree of grief. I'm sure through his delay that comes out when Martha and Mary finally greet him when he does come, but some end up basically judging God by our priorities rather than helping us recalibrate our priorities to God's because we think when there is when there is a real need. True love responds immediately if it can doesn't mean if a father sees a child. If a parent sees a child in real genuine pain. We don't stand there with her arms folded with a smirk on her face, but the difference is that love that is also in total control of the circumstance of the pain of the experience love that is in total control of that doesn't necessarily respond immediately.
I try to figure what illustrate this, and this may not work all that well, but I imagine it. Imagine with me appearing dad in a swimming pool with the child smoked five years old four years old five years will trying to teach the child how to swim and he's got the child by you around the ribs hold onto the child is in your cake. Do your arms like this and I guess he can't do that while he's holding the child is taught the child to move his arms like this and and do you feel like you're pedaling a bicycle transition the to tread water, and so he told the child and the child is getting used to this and this is not that hard is pretty easy and also in the father removes his hands from the child and the child panics and is looking at his father standing there and feels like he is in imminent danger. But in fact the father is in complete control of the father could actually say to the child. Okay, so it's okay to stand up the water's not that deep here.
You can actually stand and be above water. The child feels like he's entirely threatened and abandoned and that might seem like a trivial comparison to us, but it's not a trivial comparison to the child. His sense of danger and abandonment, and panic is every bit as real as ours.
In circumstances and our sense of danger and abandonment, and panic is no more legitimate or justified than the child since my sense of grief or loss is not the measure of the rightness or wrongness of God's actions. Otherwise, God could never send illness or death.
There really are higher concerns like the glory of God. We read that in verse four and it also shows up again in verse 40 look at John 11 verse 40 said I not in the that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God. There really are higher concerns.
There really are greater goals like the good of others. Look at verse 15 Jesus said, I'm glad for your sakes he says to the disciples that I was not there to the intent. You may believe verse 42 and I knew that thou hearest me always. He prays to the father but because of the people would stand by.
I said it, that they may believe that thou has sent me, and verse 45. Many of the Jews which came to Mary and it seemed the things which Jesus did, believed on him. There really are higher concerns than my immediate pain and need.
And there really are higher goals greater goals than my immediate relief from pain and need. So his love prompted his delay in this case because he actually intended to do something far greater than just raise Lazarus from the sick bit others needed the impact of this incident as well, but I really want to focus here, particularly on the sisters because the text does only get you to imagine with me what they went through in those intervening days. Text is silent here, but these were real normal women who have a dying brother and even before Jesus comes. Now a dead brother and they know they notify Jesus what answer lists questions hounded their thoughts during those interminable nights.
Is there sitting around the kitchen table with the lamp single lamp in between them, lighting their concern, worried faces, what are they saying to each other, what are they thinking, I think you get it you get a echo of those kinds of late-night talks together when both of them independently greeted Jesus with the same words.
Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
They both say that they both have been thinking about this for days and the unasked question that hangs in the air when those words are uttered if you had been here is a question about timing. It's a question about delay. They had no doubts about his power. If you been her, my brother would not have died but they couldn't fathom his timing me. They'd sent for him.
They know that they knew Jesus loved him. He whom thou love us to securely say thought they did. Why, then, had he not come sooner and why did that delay me.
What did that delay at least seem to imply and what do I do with delaying what you do with delays like this delay this not just stressful and inconvenient but genuinely painful and inexplicable and it seems to us unnecessary, seemingly at odds with what we thought we knew about God and how thin am I tempted to feel about someone who doesn't seem to care all that much about me notice a seminary chapel.
So allow me to bring up an academic point that you will find in the commentary literature.
There is should be a map but there there is some dispute over exactly where Jesus was when he received the news about Lazarus from Martha and Mary's, not from them but from the servants that they sent others.
Bethany go back to the other Bethany with a star by us. That's about where Bethany is okay. Some say that he was only one day's journey away basically due East just across the Jordan in Paris, and therefore that Lazarus may actually have died even before Jesus got the message that he was sick just one day there. Jesus waits two days. One day back.
It's possible that Lazarus was right actually dead before he even got the message. That's when commentators broach.
Others believe that he was in the North East Transjordan region called back to Neo up near the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee and as much as four days away so that even if Jesus had left immediately. He still would've been too late because he's four days away and if I named those two commentators pretty much everybody in here would instantly recognize the name Caesar not just know backwoods commentators are major commentators who are making these suggestions and the fact is that we are given Jesus whereabouts in pretty broad terms.
If you look back in 1040 the end of chapter 10, written for Chapter 11 text tells us that Jesus went away again. Beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized and there he above will that may seem obvious enough to you but the fact is we still don't know where that is.
Even John 128 mentions a nearby city, but Sabra and some manuscripts Bethany beyond the Jordan, in the oldest manuscript that city. A city that was near where John baptized but nobody has been able to locate that city. In fact, is the older reading of death in the area that has suggested the sum the location of bats in the away up in the Northeast up that he was actually baptizing somewhere up near the Sea of Galilee. And that's why you have such disparate views on where Jesus was. When he receives the message so what's the point of this little digression. Even scholars can dogmatize and agree on exactly where Jesus was when he received this urgent message from Mary and Martha and I am all for background data and exegetical precision, but sometimes we can be so clever and complicated that we missed the plane point of the text.
The whole structure of John's account seems specifically calculated to call attention to the issue of delay without all kinds of abstruse and uncertain computations of exactly how far away Jesus may have been when he got the message. Both of those explanation seem to seem eager to exonerate Jesus for delaying and in one case because, well, it wouldn't have done any good because lashes were dead and the other, even if you left right away.
He would've gotten there in time so there eager to exonerate the appearance of cruelty on the part of Jesus for delaying. It wouldn't do any good anyway that's not where the text does still, we don't know exactly where Jesus was.
So we can't speculate beyond the text and come up with some other explanation of why Jesus stayed. He delayed because he loved them.
That's what the text tells us with certainty and John's report of the illness in verse one the message to Jesus.
Verse three Jesus diagnosis verse four. Jesus love confirmed verse five, followed by Jesus intentional delay in the context of that love in verse six and in the words of both Mary Mary and Martha calling attention to what would have been averted if he had just been there all those details coalesce to make the point that God may delay, but he is never late. Not a truism. It's the truth. To make the point that his purposes are beyond our comprehension. They could not fathom why he had not come and we're not told just that he decided to stay where he was two more days after he heard the Lazarus was sick that his ultimate intended to answer may in fact be beyond our expectation and that is motivation.
Even in delay is always love. Now it's true that Mary and Martha didn't question his compassion or his concern. At least not overtly like the disciples did. On another occasion, Kristallnacht would perish, but John guided by God spirit anticipated.
I think that we might question that, in the evidence of that is the effort of some commentators to exonerate Jesus on the basis of his supposed location to remove the apparent the apparent contradiction between Jesus love in his delay by making the circumstance of Lazarus death in some way or other.
Beyond Jesus control, but it wasn't. It wasn't beyond his control, and there is no contradiction in the first place. That's why the narrative takes pains to point our attention to Jesus love for this family.
Not once, not twice but three times you see it in verse three he whom thou lobbyist is six verse five Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. You see again in verse 36 then said the Jews, behold how he loved him. Our problem is we don't recognize delay as delay when it's happening on the front end delay looks exactly like failure on God's part. Silence on God's part. Non-answer absence but is not at all. The same thing just takes some time to find out. The delay was in fact delay and just delay in verse 25 Jesus counters Martha's words, if you had been here, my brother and not died by grounding her hope not just on an event, your brother will rise again, but on himself. I am the resurrection and the life and there is a great deal of doctrine and theology woven into the fabric and the pattern of this passage, but lying right up on the surface of the text within easy reach of the simplest, most unsophisticated reader is an assurance that the Lord's timing never ever contradicts his love, his delays, however perplexing they may be at the time are always timely. They are always purposeful and they are always loving, so what we do with this. You may say at this point okay retardants suffering.
We talked about love, but only Jesus love. I thought the whole point of this was my loving God in the midst of suffering and really said much about that and that's true.
I haven't look at chapter 12. After this whole incident was Lazarus and the raising of Lazarus was the first thing that you read about in John 12. Do you think Mary's anointing of Jesus feet with expensive ointment and wiping them off, not with a towel, but with her hair. Ladies have you ever thought about how close your face would have to be to Jesus feet to actually wipe his feet with your hair the posture that you would have to be and to do that if you ever put yourself in that place and sympathetically read and thought through what that looked like do you think that was an expression of love for him makes a well, yeah, yeah.
Look at verse one. Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom Jesus of course she loves, and now why was she anointing him. Verse seven Jesus says, for his burial. I just want to draw this parallel in conclusion, Lazarus death and resurrection was a display of Christ's love for them. The fact that Lazarus was allowed to die. So the court Christ could raise him. That whole experience was an expression of of of his love for them. Jesus died and was raised again to display his love, and the father's love for you. How can we ever doubt his love again after that and how then can we not go on loving him and trusting him even in our hardest and our darkest hours, we can love him in the midst of difficulty in the midst of hard circumstances because we know he loves us, and even when he delays even when he seems to be absent and not answering it is because it is because not in spite, is because he loves us. Father, we thank you for the way that you have recorded your words for us.
We thank you for this story. We thank you for the Spirit's direction in how we read it and we pray that you would give us grace always to recognize the preeminent display of your love for us in the sacrifice of your own beloved son and his willing sacrifice of himself for us and or may we always be reminded because of that fact never to doubt. How could we doubt that you genuinely sell sacrificially always eternally love us ground our souls in that truth we pray for Jesus you been listening to a message preached at Bob Jones University by seminary professor, Dr. Layton Talbert, which was part of the series. Loving God would like to thank you for listening to The Daily Platform. I hope that you enjoyed it.
I hope it's been a blessing and encouragement to you. We are living in very unusual times with the Cove with 19 virus. The changes in our daily lifestyle. Just the. The experiences that we've had that are so unique. This is just such a crucial time for all of us as believers to walk closely with the Lord. I'm looking forward to the day that I can get back into the local church and be a part of Christ's body.
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