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The God Who Bleeds 8 Lazarus and Dostoyevsky

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4 people ask me about – Jesus riding a donkey, and how that related to Jesus riding a white horse in the book of revelation.

The key: Understanding the KIND of book revelation is.

Apocalyptic literature where everything is symbol.

Ex: Jesus is portrayed as a bloody lamb with 7 eyes and 7 horns, not that he is, but that that symbolizes something.

Ch 19 – Jesus – riding – white horse – Robe / Sword.

In Chapter 19 – Jesus comes and is riding a white horse, in a robe dripping with this own blood with a sword coming from his mouth.

This is a symbolic telling of Christ’s victory over deception.

So in that regard, he’s mighty, and conquering, and triumphant.

Ironically: His mighty victory was on the cross, where he lays down his own life.

So you could say it like this: Christ’s mighty, white horse, sword wielding, bloody victory is an artist picture of Christ riding in on a donkey and dying on the cross.

Revelation isn’t a literal book it’s an artistic book.

Picture 7 eyed sheep riding in on a horse. – Strange.

Series – The God Who Bleeds

Attempting : Turn – attention – mystery – Jesus.

John 11

Now Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 11:1)

Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (John 11:11)

His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” (John 11:12)

Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. (John 11:13)

So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. (John 11:14)

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.. (John 11:17)

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:21)

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” (John 11:23)

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; (John 11:25)

and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26)

“Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. (John 11:34)

Jesus saw and wept. (John 11:35)

Jesus, deeply moved, said “Take away the stone,” “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” (John 11:38-39)

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43)

The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:44)

Experimental Sermon

Title: Lazarus and Dostoyevsky

The Raising of Lazarus is the 7th of the 7 signs in the gospel of John.

Debatably the most significant.

John says if he wrote down EVERYTHING Jesus did, there wouldn’t be enough books in the world. So he chooses.

This is the miracle that puts Jesus on a collision course with the Pharisees that will ultimately lead to his death.

They thought he was going to start a violent revolution. Of course that was never going to happen. The way of Jesus is and was the way of the cross. Self Sacrificial love.

We believe that the way of the cross is the way that leads to life.

Kind of a weird statement. How can the cross – an torture and execution device lead us to life?

Only B/C of ‘Resurrection’.

That’s what the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is about. Resurrection.

Lazarus and his 2 sisters – Mary & Martha.

Wealthy family. Lived a couple miles outside of Jerusalem. Suburb – Bethany.

Jesus has developed a close intimate friendship with Lazarus and his 2 sisters.

Often a guest in their house. Seems like when Jesus was in Jerusalem for festivals etc. He would stay at their house.

Lazarus has become sick. Very sick. At deaths door.

Mary & Martha send for Jesus – he’s in Galilee.

“Your dear friend is sick and dying. Please come.”

Jesus says to his disciples “This sickness is not unto death.” – Not fatal. Then…. Lazarus dies.

Death is part of our story.

But for people who believe in Jesus, death isn’t the end.

Jesus isn’t saying that Lazarus won’t die, he’s saying that Lazarus stay dead.

Jesus stays 2 more days.

Jesus – disciples:

“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep and I go to awaken him.”

Disciples – literalists, miss the point. “Well if he just feel asleep, he’s bound to wake up. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Jesus: “He’s dead, okay!?”

But Jesus uses the phrase ‘Fall Asleep’ and later the apostles will use it too. To speak of a saint who has died.

So he travels – Arrives at Bethany.

Great grief, sorrow. They didn’t understand why Jesus didn’t come right away.

Jesus “If you will believe, you’ll see the glory of God.”

So they take him to the tomb.


Jesus weeps. He knew he was going to raise him from the dead. He already told Mary & Martha, AND the disciples. He’s participating in the sorrow of death.

Death is the greatest problem with being human.

It’s because it threatens to rob life of all ultimate meaning.

We -Live –Love –Hope –Dream


It’s a big problem. It’s one of the reasons that people struggle with God. There’s no other time in the life of a Christian that we struggle more with God than when we’re confronted with death.

It’s a problem.

Not just a problem for us, it’s a problem for God. B/C he gets blamed.

“God if you’re really good, then why do babies get brain cancer and die?”

I’ve read accounts of people who lose their faith when they read about the holocaust.

The great problem the gospel solves is the problem of death.

B/C not only would he weep next to a grave, he would be laid in a grave.

The solution to the problem of death is : RESURRECTION.

The solution is : God raises the dead.

Give hope, and it gives meaning.

Jesus says to roll away the stone.

Jesus : “Lazarus, come out!”

Lazarus who had been dead 4 days, comes out.

Comes out to new life.

This is the miracle that really makes the religious people want to kill Jesus.

Interesting: They don’t just want to kill Jesus, they want to kill Lazarus too.

Not everyone is glad about your resurrection to new life.

Jesus gives people who are beyond hope a new beginning.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Born: 1821 – St. Petersburg, Russia – Died: 1881

Famous/talented author.

At 27 – Became involved in this group of authors get together and discuss ideas.

Had ideas – How to move past the Russia Dictatorship mindset. Serfs (slaves) could be freed and the Tsar’s (Dictators) could you know, find something else to do.

This was considered treason, they were all arrested.


‘Peter & Paul Fortress’

Prison (pic)

He and his book club – sentenced to Execution – firing squad.

Crazy: Mock Execution. Fake. They don’t know that.

Brought out, told they were gonna be executed, taken to the spot, blindfolded, crimes were read out, command was given, the riffles were raised. (A sketch)

Last moment: Change – sentence

At the last moment: They change their sentence to 4 years hard labor in prison in Siberia and then 4 years exile.

Dostoyevsky writes a lot about this. How life was given back to him. He thought he was seconds away from being executed.

He’s put in chains, put in a sleigh – it was winter – traveled towards Siberia. – Severe frostbite, for the rest of his life he would have scare from the chains.

And as he was going into the prison, for his 4 years, he was given a little New Testament, (Pic)

So this amazing author, the only thing he had to read for 4 years was this New Testament. – Read it over and over. Especially the gospel of John, especially the story of Lazarus.

In his writings, he compares him self to Lazarus having a chance to live again.

He came to believe in Jesus. – Amazingly follower of Christ.

All his novels after that contain in some form, his Christian faith.

One – most famous…

Crime & Punishment (Pic)

Crime & Punishment – People say that ‘Crime & Punishment’ is a poor translation, that the title would be better translated ‘Crime & Consequences’.

Novel. – Written in 1866.

Centers around the main character – a young man – named Raskolnikov – young intelligent, college student. Very poor, and living in St. Petersburg.


He believes that ‘exceptional men’, – Are beyond good and evil.

Normal laws of morality do not apply to exceptional men.

He gives the example of Napoleon. A man who killed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, but is regarded a great man because he’s exceptional.

Ordinary laws of morality don’t apply to him.

Raskolnikov believes – he’s – exceptional man.

Prove it: Murders 2 old woman. – Sisters. To prove that he’s an exceptional man.

Obviously this is a very lost young man.

Most of the novel is spent inside his head. Ultimately it’s a book about redemption.

In the end, Raskolnikov, the murderer, the atheist, the man who convinced himself that he was beyond good and evil, – In the end he finds redemption.

He finds redemption in a young woman named Sonya. (pic)

Prostitute. Forced into prostitution through poverty and to provide for 2 orphaned children.

She’s kinda like Mary Magdalene, who has found redemption and meaning in Christ.

One of the most moving scenes – the 2 are together.

He has NOT confessed his crime to her, he will later.

She has a bible laying on her table.

Raskolnikov picks up bible “Where the part about Lazarus?”

She flips to it and reads him the story of the raising of Lazarus. Tears streaming down her face and she reads.

The story of Lazarus is actually in Crime and Punishment. It’s one of the main points of the book.

After, he says “Do you believe this?”

She: “With all my heart.”

He’s not asking if she believes in the story, what he’s really asking is: “Do you believe there’s redemption for someone like me? A murderer.”

Closing sentence scene: Sonya says “That’s all about the raising of Lazarus.” she whispered. The candle was flickering out and the battered candlestick casting a dim light in this destitute room upon the murderer and the harlot strangely come together over the reading of the eternal book.

Two lost souls on the road to redemption reading about the raising of Lazarus.

Eventually, Raskolnikov confesses his crime to Sonya. – That he’s murdered these two older women. – One of these woman was Sonya’s close friend. – In fact it was one of the 2 older women who gave the bible to Sonya.

Her response is this: “What have you done to yourself?” – Sobs.

When we sin against God, it doesn’t just hurt others, we also hurt ourselves.

It’s an echo of when God says to Adam “Where are you?”

“Where has your soul gone?”

Same question – God – Cain “What have you done?”

Not just – Abel, “What have you done to yourself?”

In Sonya, he finds forgiveness, and redemption.

He goes to the police, confesses.

Convicted, sent to Siberia. – To prison. (Sound familiar?) Remember – he went to prison in Siberia. Raskolnikov is in prison, suffering in Siberia.

Softened by his suffering. And by Sonya, who travels with him to Siberia, to be near him and visit. – She is a picture of Christ who doesn’t forsake him.

Last 2 paragraphs – Crime & Punishment. (Band)

Under his pillow lay the New Testament. He took the book out. It belonged to Sonya, it was the same one from which she had read to him about the raising of Lazarus. At the beginning, he had thought she would hound him with religion, forever talking about the Gospels and forcing books on him. But to his great amazement, she never once spoke of it, never once even offered him the New Testament. He had to ask her for it himself.

He had not even opened it yet. Nor did he open it now, but a thought flashed in his mind: “Can her convictions be mine?

Here begins a new account, the account of a man’s gradual renewal, the account of his gradual regeneration, his gradual transition from one world to another. It might make the subject of a new story—but our present story is ended.


Dostoyevsky who becomes a Christian because of the New Testament, esp the story of Lazarus would write a book about a murderer finding redemption in the New Testament and the Story of Lazarus.

My hope – you can find yourself – Lazarus.

When the chips are down, and you’re scared, and you feel defeated.

You, caught in your despair, or sorrow, or anger, or guilt, or shame. Can imagine Jesus comes and bringing redemption into your story. Closing the old, and starting another.