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John 11:1-46

ETS: Jesus cared about Martha and Mary’s pain. He was willing and able to heal their pain by raising Lazarus and giving them faith in Himself.
Proposition: Jesus cares about us and wants to heal our pain through faith in Him.
Objective: To lead the people to bring their pain to Jesus and allow Him to heal them.
Introduction: Remember your first bike ride? Maybe you got a skinned knee and asked your mother to kiss it and make it well. Wouldn’t it be great if all the hurts of life could be healed with a mother’s kiss? Let’s face it. Life hurts. Most people occasionally experience such severe personal pain that they think they are unique, that “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.”
Background: John 11:10-18

I. Pain Is a Universal Experience (vv. 19-20)
Some pain is physical, the result of injury or illness. Some pain is emotional, imposed by friends and foes or rising from our own fears or frustrations. Whether the hurt is real or imagined, it still hurts and usually is associated with some kind of loss.
A. Different in kind (physical, emotional)
B. Different in degree (pain threshold)
C. Some pain is open (striking out)
D. Some pain is hidden (callusing the heart)

II. People React to Pain Differently (vv. 21, 32b)
Death. Divorce. Disease. Disasters. They are all alike. They cause loss; loss produces grief; grief can lead the best of us to question God, raising our faces and fists toward heaven and asking, “Why?” Do we really think that having some rationale for loss will make the pain less? Hurting people are seldom rational. We really want someone to blame. Hurting people sometimes tend to hurt other people, striking a physical form because the real source of pain is often intangible. If God is supposed to be in charge of the universe, why did He let this happen? If He is good and powerful, how could He not prevent something like this from happening?
A. Withdrawal (“Where do you go when you hurt deeply?”)
B. Aggression (Striking out at others)
C. Questioning the goodness of God (“Lord, if you had been here our brother would not have died.”)
D. Overcompensation (Do more, be more, win more: “How do you express
your pain?”)

III. Jesus Understands Your Pain (vv. 23, 33-35)
God does understand our pain, whether we are ready to believe that or not. What sickness have we suffered that could equal the pain of the scourge? What injury can we experience that approaches the wounds of the cross?
A. Rejection (“He came to His own, and His own received Him not.”)
B. Betrayal (He was betrayed with a kiss.)
C. Shame (The shame of the cross [Hebrews 12:2])

IV. You Must Want to be Healed (vv. 24-32a)
God also wants to do something about our pain. Jesus not only wept with Mary and Martha, He took the next step. Unfortunately, some people prefer pain to healing.
A. Pity Parties
B. Excuses (You don’t understand.)
C. Rather endure pain than forgive

Faith is a risk. We risk that nothing will happen and our faith will be shattered like a glass fallen on the kitchen floor. We risk further loss—the loss of trust, the loss of what little we had left. Too many people are not willing to take that great a gamble, so they choose to disbelieve the supernatural, to deny the spiritual. Ironically, they find it less painful simply to have no God than to have One who allows such hurt into their lives.

V. You Must Remove the Barriers—Attitudes (vv. 26, 37-40)
For Martha, the stone represented the barrier between the pain of grief and the deeper pain of a dead brother. She objected to smelling the stench of his decaying body. She feared the sight would be more than she could endure.

For Jesus, the stone was no barrier to healing. He easily could heal Lazarus without having the door to the grave opened. What of Lazarus? A common human fear is to awaken inside a casket, having been buried alive by mistake. Jesus would not be so cruel as to bring Lazarus back to life in the darkness of the tomb.

Too, Jesus wanted Martha to exercise her faith. He wanted her to believe before there were facts to aid belief. All of the people present soon would see Lazarus walk out; Jesus wanted Martha to know the joy of belief while her brother was still in the tomb.

If we want our hurts to be healed, we must remove the stones blocking the way. For one, it may be anger or bitterness. For some, the pain itself prevents the touch of healing as we jerk away from the balm that would take away the pain. For another, the barrier is unbelief or the stubborn refusal to admit the existence of a power greater than ourselves. We cling to the illusion of control, willing to suffer rather than give up our self-sufficiency.
A.  Anger, Scapegoating
B. Guilt
C. Sin (confession, repentance)
D.  Surrender of will (You cannot have fast-food healing.)

VI. Healing Is Not Superficial (vv. 41-44)
Jesus wants not only to heal us from the hurts in our lives, but to loose us from the grave clothes of doubt that keep us from living His abundant life. While we would prefer never to have the pain in the first place, we really can only choose to deal with pain on our own or allow the Healer to touch us at the point of our pain. He may remove its source or relieve its result. He may release you from the pain or strengthen you to endure it.
—Lazarus was made whole.
— “Loose him, let him go!”

Conclusion: God wants to heal you completely, to free you of decaying grave clothes that bind your heart and soul and prevent wholeness. Is the stone that blocks your healing too heavy for you to move? Allow Him, and He will do that for you. No stone could keep Him from the grave of His friend any more than could a rock block His own grave. Stones cannot keep Him from one who needs healing.

Invitation: More gentle than a mother’s kiss, the touch of the Healer awaits our willingness and faith. He who came to heal broken hearts and bind up wounded spirits stands just outside, ready to do in us what we never could do for ourselves. Will you let God do what only He can do?

See related sermon: Preaching to Heal Conflicted Congregations

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