Come Out Of The Cave

Title: Come Out Of The Cave

Bible Book: John 11 : 1-45

Author: Frank Page

Subject: Resurrection; Salvation; Eternal Life; Lazarus, Resurrection of



Cliff Barrows shared this story in a sermon a few years ago. It is a true story as told by Ken Gaub.

“God, sometimes I wonder if you really know where I am,” I mused to myself. A melancholy cloud of self-pity enshrouded my mind as I tried to concentrate on driving. “God, even a preacher needs for you to let him know once in a while that you are aware of him,” I mentally implored. “Hey, Dad, let’s get some pizza.” The voice of my son, Dan, snapped me out of my self-induced cocoon of despondency. The voices of my wife, Barbara, and my daughter, Becki, chimed in agreement with Dan. It had been a long day of driving and it was way past time to eat. “OK,” I yelled back, exiting from I-75, we turned onto Route 741 just south of Dayton, Ohio. Bright colorful signs advertising a wide variety of fast food restaurants welcomed us.

Before I had fully parked, the kids were clamoring to get out. Barbara stepped to the bottom stair of our “home-on-wheels” and stopped. “Aren’t you coming, Ken?” she quizzed. “Naw, I’m not really hungry,” I replied. “You just go ahead with the kids. I need to stretch my legs and unwind a bit.”

I stepped outside, noticing a Dairy Queen down the street. I thought, “I am pretty thirsty.” After purchasing a soft drink, I strolled slowly back to the R.V., all the while musing about my feelings of God’s apathy toward me. The sudden distinct ringing of a telephone somewhere up the street jarred me out of my doldrums. It was coming from a phone booth at the service station on the corner. I drew near and paused. I looked about to see if anyone was going to answer. The service station attendant seemed oblivious to the incessant ringing of the nearby phone. I started to walk on past, but curiosity overcame my indifference. I stepped inside the booth and picked up the phone. “Hello,” I said casually. The operator intoned nasally, “Person-to person call for Ken Gaub.” My eyes widened and I almost choked on a chunk of ice from my Coke. Swallowing hard, I replied in astonishment, “You’re crazy!” Realizing my rude remark, I added, “This can’t be. I was just walking down the street, not bothering anyone and this phone just starting ringing…” The operator ignored my crude explanation and asked me once more, “Is Ken Gaub there sir? I have a person-to-person call for him.”

Searching for all possible explanations, I suddenly had the answer. “I know what this is. This is Candid Camera!” I reached up and quickly tried to smooth my hair, wanting to look my best for all those millions of television viewers watching me. I stepped out of the booth, looking in every direction. I nearly pulled the phone cord off stretching its limit. I couldn’t find a camera anywhere! Impatiently, the operator interrupted again, “Sir, Ken Gaub … is he there, sir?” Flustered, I half- laughingly replied, “As far as I know, I am he.” To avoid any further disasters, I set my Coke down as I heard another voice interject. “Yes, that’s him, operator. I believe that’s him!” I listened dumbfounded to a strange voice identify herself.

The caller blurted out, “I’m Millie from Harrisburg, PA. You don’t know me, but I’m desperate. Please help me.” She began weeping. I waited until she regained control of herself. She continued. “I’m about to commit suicide. I was finishing writing a note to let people know what I’ve done, when I prayed to God telling Him I really didn’t want to do this. Suddenly, I remembered seeing you on television in Harrisburg. I thought if I could just talk to you, you could help me. I knew that was impossible because I didn’t know how to reach you, nor did I know anyone that could help me find you. While I was writing, numbers began to come to my mind and I wrote them down.”

While I was listening to her, I began to pray silently for wisdom from God to help her. She continued, “I looked at the numbers and thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I had a miracle from God and he gave me that preacher’s number?” I decided to have the operator call it. I figured it was worth a chance. It was! I can’t believe I’m talking to you. Are you in your office?” I replied, “Lady, my office is in Yakima, Washington.” A little surprised, she asked, “Really, then where are you?”

“Ma’am, you wouldn’t believe this, but I’m in a phone booth in Dayton, Ohio!” Knowing this encounter could have been arranged only by God, I boldly counseled her telling her of her need of Jesus. She shared her despair and frustration. In a matter of moments she prayed the sinner’s prayer and met the only Person who could lead her into new life – Jesus Christ.

I walked away from that telephone booth with an electrifying sense of our Heavenly Father’s concern for each of his children. With all the millions of phones and innumerable combinations of numbers, only an all-knowing, all-caring God could have caused that woman to call that number in that phone booth at that time. Nearly bursting with joy and exhilaration, I jumped up to the R.V. I wondered if my family would believe my story. “Barb, you won’t believe this! God knows where I am!”

Does God know where you are? In the passage we are going to study tonight, we will see that God not only knows where you are, He knew how to reach a dead man once in His ministry. If he can raise a man from the dead, do you think he knows where you are, cares about where you are and is able to bring you out of spiritual death and bondage?

Turn with me to John 11:1-45. Isn’t that a beautiful story? It is rightly called the greatest miracle in Christ’s public ministry.

In modern medicine, people are often brought back after their hearts have stopped. Maurice Rawlings, a medical doctor in his book Beyond Death’s Door tells of many experiences in which a person would be revived and then tell of the experience of being brought back from heaven or hell. But even in those instances, the persons in question were only dead a short time.

We have read of the miraculous advancements in technology of recent days, in which people are now given artificial hearts.

Miraculous—yes—but nothing like the raising up of Lazarus. This beautiful passage teaches us much. In this story we see two sides of Christ’s personality. He was God and yet He was man. He was human and yet He was divine. As a human being we see Him weeping over the death of His friend. As God He raised His friend from the dead. There has never been one like Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of man, the great, loving, compassionate Savior.

I. There Was Sickness

As the curtain rises we look in on a godly home in Bethany. This little town was two miles from Jerusalem. Three people lived there whom Jesus loved—Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Jesus loved to visit their home. After a hard day’s work, He considered it a privilege to go there to rest and enjoy sweet fellowship with these friends. If Jesus came to your city, I wonder it He would want   to go to your home? I am afraid that some of us would be obliged to do some spiritual housecleaning before we could invite Him to be our guest.

While Jesus was away on a preaching tour, Lazarus became ill. What did the sisters do when Lazarus became ill? They sent for Jesus. This is what every Christian should do in the time of trouble. We thank God for doctors and medicine, but they are just instruments in His hands. Our great need is for the Lord.

We can learn a great lesson from Mary and Martha. We must turn to Christ in a special way when sickness and sorrow come.

What message did the sisters send to Jesus? “Lord, the one whom You love is sick.” They didn’t give the name of Lazarus. They didn’t say, “Our brother is sick.” They knew that Jesus would understand. He knows every one of us, and He knows all about us. Neither did they tell Jesus what to do. They didn’t tell Jesus to heal Lazarus or to come to their home at once. They just left it up to Him to do what He knew was best. Now when Jesus received the message, He said to His disciples, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.” He didn’t mean that Lazarus would not die, but He meant that death would not have complete dominion over him. It would just be a temporary state and would present an opportunity for both God and His Son to be glorified.

After two days Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.” Now Judea was a place of opposition and danger for our Lord, but Jesus had no fear. His Father was guiding His footsteps.

Let us learn from the sickness of Lazarus our need for constant prayer and dependence upon Christ.

II. There Was Sadness

As Jesus and the disciples walked along, He broke the news to them (vv.11-14). We look upon death as an awful thing and, to the human mind, it is just that. But Jesus saw beyond the casket and the grave and called it “sleep.”

When Jesus reached Bethany, He found that Lazarus had been buried four days. These must have been days of distress for the sisters. They had sent for Jesus and He hadn’t come. They were greatly disappointed. Surely by now they must have lost all hope, for their brother had been in the grave for four days.

When Martha met Jesus, she said, "’Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’” She still had a dim hope. Then Jesus said the words that ought to have made her heart sing with joy, “Your brother will rise again.” But her faith would not go far enough to believe that he would rise that day.

Now Jesus said one of the most marvelous things ever spoken by anyone. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’ What was He saying? He was saying that those who believed in Him, even if they were dead like Lazarus, would again be brought to life. Those who believe in Him will not die eternally. The second death has no power over them.

Martha doesn’t seem to understand all this, but we hear her saying (v.27), "’Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’” This is as far as she could go. Now we see Martha going into action again. She runs and tells Mary that the Master is calling for her. Then we read the shortest verse in the Bible (v. 35), “Jesus wept.” Why did Jesus weep? Some say that He wept to see the ravages made by sin and death. Some say that He wept because of the unbelief of the Jews. Some say that He wept over the feeble faith of Martha and Mary. Some say that He wept as He thought of the sorrow which Lazarus would endure if he returned to this sinful world. But I believe that He wept in sympathy for His friends.

III. There Was The Savior

He goes out to Lazarus’ grave and He finds a stone over the grave. Turning to those who were standing by, He said,(v.39) “Take away the stone.” He could have removed this stone by a word. He could have brought Lazarus out without removing the stone. His almighty power does not relieve men of their responsibility.

Now the stone is rolled away and Jesus lifts up His voice and prays. If He felt the need of prayer, He who was without sin and who possessed all power, how much more should we feel the need of prayer. Now we hear Him cry with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” Dwight L. Moody said that if Jesus hadn’t used the name of Lazarus, everybody in the cemetery would have come forth, so great was the power of the Savior.

And what happened? Lazarus came hobbling out, bound hand and foot with grave clothes and a napkin about his face. He said to them, “Loose him and let him go.”

This was Christ’s greatest miracle, but it was not hard for Him. He made man and He has power to restore him to life after death.

Look at the results of this miracle. We read that many people who saw Christ raise Lazarus, came to believe on Him.

In this story we see a picture of the sinner. Like Lazarus, the sinner is dead, he is buried in his sin, he is helpless. But he is not hopeless. Jesus comes to call him out of sin into salvation, out of death into life. Is this your story? Can you tell it?


I recently read a testimony of a young pastor in Zimbabwe who stated how he felt about following the Lord.

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made – I’m a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need position, promotions or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, praised or rewarded. I now live by faith, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer and I labor with power.

My face is set, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions are few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, let up. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go ‘til he comes, give ‘til I drop, tell ‘til all know the work ‘til He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me… my banner will be clear.

Resurrection Day is coming soon. Will the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus Christ, which has raised us from the dead, be found to be a power that is changing us even now?

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