Thursday, May 26, 2016

wrath's children

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Ephesians 2:3

There are three reasons why we were once under God's wrath before our salvation. This is the fallen state of all humanity right now. FIRST REASON: We were sons of disobedience living a life that dishonored God. That is the "among whom" of the first part of verse three. It comes from the last part of verse 2... sons of disobedience. Living disobediently from God's holiness is the essence of the fallen nature of mankind. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and now we all do so naturally. No one has to be taught to sin. It is what we do and who we are.

SECOND REASON: We lived by fleshly passion. Our instincts are selfish, sinful, and driven by our own wants and not by God's desires. We lived solely in this selfish way before Christ saved us. And this fleshliness marks human society blatantly flaunting the Creator. 

THIRD REASON: We did only what our minds and bodies desired. Trapped by sin, we cannot serve anything bigger than ourselves. And that degeneration leads to a fallen world that Paul has already said follows its own course directed by Satan (Ephesians 2:2). Could anything be any more accurate in describing the world outside of Christian community?

Thank God that Jesus breaks through all this so that we are no longer wrath's children!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

biodiversity and praise

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

In this psalm general revelation (the created universe) and special revelation (the Word of God) sing a duet of praise to God. The Lord is celebrated as a magnificent Creator Whose vast wisdom is seen in the diversity of the natural world. The psalmist takes particular delight in the living creatures of planet earth as they point to their Creator.

I too am drawn to this worship. When I spend time outdoors, particularly in wilderness, I am compelled with big, worship-filled thoughts about God. I can find these moments fishing a mountain stream, or wandering through Midwestern woods. I've had them flushing pheasants from a Kansas field, and snorkeling a Caribbean reef. I can take in an alpine vista where peaks pierce the clouds, or I can listen to the heartbeat rhythm of the earth sitting in the sand by ocean surf. All of these moments point to the creative genius and power of God.

With the hymn of praise that this world sings, I harmonize right along: "Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where'er I turn my eye... If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky." God of all creatures, I will, along with all Your creation, worship You. Amen. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

always merciful and gracious

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Psalm 103:8

In Jesus I know the mercy and grace of God... a mercy and grace God has always displayed as part of His many attributes. It would be heresy to think that God only became gracious in the gospels with the sending of His Son. God also did not become more merciful or gracious by sending Jesus. Anything that God is, He has always been, and that in full perfection. That is why David could praise God's mercy and grace while living under the Law in the writing of this psalm.

Thank God that He is slow to anger. Thank Him that His steadfast love abounds. Praise Him that His anger does not burn forever (Psalm 103:9). Be glad and rejoice that He does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). Be amazed that His love is so great as to extend as far as the heavens reach beyond the earth (Psalm 103:11).

Yes, I know all these attributes of God through salvation in Jesus. And I am thankful. Yet God has always been faithful to His people., abounding in mercy and grace. God has always been forgiving, displaying to us daily His incomparable, steadfast love.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The universe is God's laundry.

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.
Psalm 102:25-27

This world, this universe, is destined to pass away. The entropy set into place by the Fall of humanity means that nothing God created lasts forever. It is all destined to wear out. The universe dirties and frays like God's clothing. He will set it aside and make a new heavens and a new earth some day.

But God is unaffected by this universal entropy, even as we are caught up in it. God is unchanging... unfailing... enduring. And as Creator, Judge, and Restorer of all things, He gives us the perspective we need as we decay and watch everything crumble. We all fray and tatter along with the universe. It is a slow process. As we live, we slowly die. We all know this. I feel it with sore muscles, arthritic joints, and the occasional memory lapse. I am well aware that I am cursed by sin as I decay along with all that is around me. But God, thankfully, does not change. He is as powerful today as in the beginning when He commanded: "Let there by light".

So my prayer is found in this comforting old hymn that gives worshipful perspective:
"Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, O abide with me
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me"
So I sing, dear Lord. So I sing. Amen.

Friday, May 20, 2016

reason to sing

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
Psalm 101:1

David's heart for worship shows in this passionate purpose statement. David is determined to be a man of praise. He has seen both God's grace and God's justice in the life of Israel and that is why he wants to sing to the Lord.

A heart of praise flows from our relationship with God. If we love God, we should want to praise Him with His people. And not just musicians should desire this. The call to praise came from an awareness of God's justice and God's steadfast love, and not because a melody was in David's head needing to come out.

We know grace in Jesus and His atoning death and resurrection satisfied the justice of God. We should think on that and be quick to praise! Jesus is the steadfast love of God. Jesus is the King of Kings Who has made us right with God and Who will return to set this world right! Jesus gives us reason to be a people of praise.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

created to worship

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3

This call to worship stems from the reality that God is our Creator and our owner. We are made by God as His creation, for His glory, to worship Him. We were born to worship the Lord. I immediately went to an old Lenny Leblanc song. I used to love to perform this with the Gracetones back in the day:

Born to Worship

I was born to worship the Lord
That is why I sing
To give Him praise and lift up my voice
Is such a natural thing
And so I

Testify of His mercy and love
Glorify my Heavenly Father above
Just one thing that I'm sure of
I was born, you were born
Everything was made to worship Him

I used to wonder with
So many questions like
Is it really possible
Until my Jesus came
Into my heart of hearts
Now that's a miracle
And so I

Testify of His mercy and love
Glorify my Heavenly Father above
Just one thing that I'm sure of
I was born, you were born
Everything was made to worship Him

There is nothing that
Compares to our God
Or the power of
His mighty name
From the earth until
The end of the stars
And forever His Kingdom
Will reign forever
He will reign

And so I
Testify of His mercy and love
Glorify my Heavenly Father above
Just one thing that I'm sure of
I was born, you were born
Everything was made to worship Him
I was born
Born to worship
I was born
Born to worship the Lord

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

called to be sent

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 13:2-3

Luke's account of the first call to missionary service is both rooted in real experience, a tangibly relatable story, and also an account of a mysterious moment in church history. First, I can tangibly identify with the particular details of the call as it relates to church life. The Antioch congregation was in a season of prayer and fasting. It would seem to me that fasting indicates a special season, but maybe not... perhaps it was the regular practice of that church. The call came out of the regular worship of the life of the church, something that has been a weekly rhythm for my life for 45+ years now. So I can identify with first eight words of this passage.

Into this rhythm Luke interjects the surprise four word interruption... "the Holy Spirit said". That's unusual. I'd like to know more about how that happened. Luke just states it so plainly. I mean, did an audible voice speak from their midst? Was someone who was gifted as a prophet become the spokesperson for the Holy Spirit in the midst of a meeting? We don't know how. And the content of the call is equally short and begs to be interrogated: "Set apart Barnabus and Saul to the work to which I have called them." Reading through the text of Acts, this is news... we aren't told that they had a new work or that they were considering anywhere to be sent. Is the possibility of taking the gospel further into Gentile lands something Barnabus and Saul had been considering and proposing to the Antioch church? Had they written up a ministry proposal and been considering it by calling the church to prayer and fasting? Had the elders of Antioch approached them with this to consider? Part of me would like to fill in the gaps so that I can see it this way, but I would be reading way too much into the text. Luke just leaves the details of the process fuzzy (probably a good thing), emphasizing instead God's clear call and the church's quick surrender to the Lord's leadership.

I love the swift obedience of the church. The Antioch church continues fasting and praying in response to the call, and then quickly lends support to the missionary team, sending them off commissioned and with the blessing of the church to preach the gospel where it had not yet gone. We shouldn't delay when the gospel is at stake.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1

Those who worship God cannot help but sing for He is a good God and has done so much for us! God's rich mercy and grace have given us so much to be joyfully thankful for that we must sing. It is where our praise finds expression. Our hearts release love in worship song.

A number of years ago a young woman who was raised by intellectually atheist parents was on a deeply troubled personal spiritual journey and started attending my church at the invitation of her neighbor. She also was seeking answers in her broken marriage. Her husband was threatening to end the marriage and she had no resources to draw from. After a couple of months of attending church services from her own curiousity, she asked me this question: "Why do Christians sing? I mean, I get the lecture time (by that she meant the sermon), but why the music? I don't get it." She went on to say that it was easier to hang out in the front of the church and then enter the sanctuary once the "lecture" (her term) started since the music just puzzled her since she did not know how to publically sing. Raised by her scientifically minded atheist parents, she only knew of church services from TV or the movies and we were not what she was expecting! She found the singing oddly disconcerting.

I explained to her that music was part of the joy that we offer back to God, thankful for what He has done for us in saving us by sending Jesus. I then went to several psalms to explain the Judeo-Christian roots and the scriptural commands to praise the Lord in song and with music. I also met with her several times to help her find answers to her objections against the existence of God. She articulated to me an understanding of what salvation through Jesus entailed and over the course of a few months clearly understood the Christian message from a factual point of view. Sadly, she never got to experience this joy. Her agnosticism was brief and when her husband inevitably left her, she had no reason left in her mind to seek purpose or hope from God. I feel a real loss for her. Really, it is one of the saddest ministry stories I have. Her lack of belief in God left only dry intellectualism and no meaning to her life. She never had a thing worth singing about... and now not even earthly love songs could be known for her.

Oh Christians... the salvation that God brings makes His people sing. And how we must sing! How His joy must be known in our worship! The people of this world that desperately need the joy and salvation and hope that Jesus brings are watching us sing.

Monday, May 16, 2016

the relationship and reward of discipleship

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
John 12:26

Service is part of discipleship. And disciples follow Jesus in relationship to their Master. Disciples are found with Jesus, serving Jesus. That is the relationship Jesus describes in the first part of this verse. To truly serve Jesus I must first be His disciple. And disciples are living in the presence of their Master. You want to find Jesus? He will be with and among His serving disciples. That is the RELATIONSHIP of discipleship.

But Jesus also tells us about the REWARD of discipleship in the last half of John 12:26. The one who serves Jesus, who is found in Jesus and with the Master, is honored by the Father. God the Father blesses, keeps, and rewards those who serve and follow the Son. The relationship that disciples have with Jesus pleases God. In fact, it is the only way to please the Father. And God will honor them because disciples give up everything and die to their old lives so that they may serve, follow, and receive the new life only Jesus can give (John 12:24-25).

Lord Jesus, my Master,
I will follow You all my days. It is hard to die to self, but the full life found in You is worth it. I will serve You. I will be found with You. And I seek the Father's honor, not by my own merits, but in Your death and new life. Grace calls me to follow You, for only You can save me.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The universe is one big worship song.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 96:11-13

God's glory runs the gamut of creation, and this song of joyful praise uses pictures from all of creation to call us to praise the Lord for His faithful, righteous justice. The psalm starts at the universal scale. The heavens should be glad. The earth should rejoice. God's goodness overfills the universe.

Then the scope narrows to planet earth, where the natural world is called to praise its Creator. The roaring oceans teeming with life, the lands and fields of earth in all their abundance, and the forests of the planet with all their wild, thrilling diversity are called to joyfully sing God's praises. This amazing world, the work of God's hands, is meant to bring Him glory. And all creation points to God in praise. 

Finally, the psalm points to people who praise God. As the LORD comes to judge the earth, it is the people who live here that He is most concerned in blessing. He wants them to worship Him so that His righteousness and faithfulness will be what they know of Him when He comes in judgment.

May I sing in praise, tuned in to the song of the universe as I wait for Your just work to be done in this world. I'll be glad like the galaxies and rejoice as this earth does. I will exult like the fields and sing for joy with the forests full of the life You made. You are coming to judge this world and make it right. And all people everywhere will know Your faithful love and righteousness.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Acts 9:22

And in this way Saul the persecutor of the church proved that the Holy Spirit had regenerated him, becoming Saul the passionate evangelist for the church. What a powerful, forceful gospel witness was now at work in the church! The leaders of the Jews that were opposed to the growing Christian movement (a group Saul had once led) could not silence a former colleague! In fact, he was so compelling and such a convincing apologist that they were left without answers to his strong message.

It is fun to read this account as Luke writes it. God can turn His enemy into His strong tool! Saul/Paul was always controversial, leaving havoc and mayhem in his wake. He did so before conversion when he hated the church. He does so now in the passage as a passionate follower of Jesus who wants to convince even his fellow persecutors to join him in his new found life in Christ. He is fearless and hard to stop! That's because God can't be stopped.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

all boldness

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,
Acts 4:29

This is a prayer of commitment to the gospel despite heavy opposition to the gospel. Peter and John were arrested by the temple guard, held over night, and brought before the Sanhedrin. This was the same group that had arrested, beaten, and handed Jesus over to Pilate for crucifixion. And from their very first questions to Peter, the gospel is boldly proclaimed in the apostles' answers (Acts 4:10-12).

This boldness is so pronounced that the Sanhedrin takes note of how unusual it was for "uneducated" men to be so well prepared. They recognized the stamp of Jesus in them (Acts 4:13), for Jesus too had taught with "all authority and not as the teachers of the law." Flustered by the clear miraculous healing that had taken place in the temple, and befuddled by the bold nature of the teaching, the council commands the two apostles to cease and desist all their teaching about Jesus (Acts 4:18). They hope to intimidate them. It is a futile effort.

Powerfully, the goodness of the gospel only grows as, into the very faces of their accusers, Peter and John politely decline the gag order (Acts 4:19-20). And in the awkwardness of the acclaim of the people who were turning massively to belief in Christ, the officials are left with only threats. The apostles are released to boldly continue in their mission.

The growing church convenes immediately in praise and prayer, confident in the call to preach Jesus to everyone. They knew they would be opposed, but believe God's sovereign purposes to be much greater than the purposes of their enemies (Acts 4:27-28). And it is that conviction that fuels their boldness with the gospel. They knew God would continue to honor their preaching of the gospel as they did their ministry in the name of Jesus.

There were two commitments to their boldness. First, they were committed to Jesus' command to preach the gospel (Acts 4:20). Secondly, they were committed to trusting God's sovereign control as they preached it (Acts 4:28). And in that firm conviction, boldness poured out in the gospel message.

Monday, May 9, 2016

rhythm of praise

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
Psalm 92:1-2

Praise and thankfulness expressed toward God are a great occupation of our time. These are some of the best things we can do. We should value praise and worship. Sometimes I wonder though, do I really see worship as one of my most valued activities? I have to fight the entropy of my life that associates praise as a Sunday morning only corporate worship tradition. Instead, this psalm encourages a broader vision that takes my soul deeper in my day to day.

The rhythm of worship expressed here is not weekly and not just limited to corporate gatherings. It is a daily expression of praise, vowing to declare God's love each morning, anticipating God to work at the start of each new day, and ending each day thankful for His faithfulness each evening, recounting God's goodness to me and deliberately remembering it. And that is a daily worship cycle worth committing to follow. It is the best way to frame my days and to format my outlook on each new day.

Beginning each morning in praise of the great love of God in Christ, and ending each evening simply breathing out a thankful prayer for God's faithful grace all day long as it has come to me, should be the way I set my running pace for life. It is true worship from the heart. It will also make me a better worshipper on Sunday. It is the way to "tune my heart to sing" for the Lord at all times. It is as important to the soul as breathing or eating are to the body. And these regular morning and evening cycles can become a spiritually sustaining life rhythm.

Friday, May 6, 2016

In Your Shelter

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2

In Your shelter, Lord, is where I long to live
under Your protection and the grace You give
there I will thrive and know Your grace
there I will rejoice as I see Your face

In Your shadow, Almighty God, I am secure
with You over me, my life is secure
under Your care with Your love over me
I can live in confidence...You'll make me what I should be

You're my refuge, You're my castle strong
and sheltering in You is where I belong
You build strong walls with Your grace and the Word
to withstand assaults, and keep me safe, my Lord

In You I trust, my tower so high
You lead this life well, protected and when I die
then in glory I am wonderfully resurrected
to live in the beautiful place You have selected

Thursday, May 5, 2016

who God is and what we are

You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
Psalm 90:3-4

Old Moses could certainly write a song. This one is chock full of majestic insights about God, and humbling admissions about humanity. It is clear that God is in control and we are not. Look at what Moses says about us humans:
1) We are made of dust and God in death returns us to what we were made (Psalm 90:3).
2) We are under God's wrath and anger because of our sin (Psalm 90:7-8).
3) We can't hide our secret sins from God (Psalm 90:8).
4) No matter how long we live, we know hard work and difficulty in our lives (Psalm 90:10).

Compare those four facts about us with what Moses has to say about God:
1) God exists before all Creation and always will exist unbound by time, from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2)... and we are just dust!
2) Time means nothing to God... it is inconsequential to Him even as we eke out 70 or 80 years. Millennia are an eye blink to the Almighty (Psalm 90:4).
3) God will put an end to sin in wrath and judgment (Psalm 90:7).
4) God has power that should be feared (Psalm 90:11).

Moses then takes these facts about God and man and reconciles them with a prayer that calls us to worship God and live in accountability to God. This is a summary of verses 12-17:
1) We should number our days to gain wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Life is brief. Keep God in focus.
2) We should rejoice in the steadfast love of our Lord (Psalm 90:14). This is known most by Christ's work for us on the cross.
3) God will gladden us in our difficulty (Psalm 90:15). Joy will come.
4) God's work and power can be seen in the lives of those who worship, fear, and serve Him (Psalm 90:16).
5) God's grace will establish us if we take these actions to heart (Psalm 90:17).

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

witnesses of the gospel

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."
Luke 24:45-48

And with this last instruction and command, Jesus handed over the future of His church to His apostles. They were sent to take His good news to the entire world. The gospel was their charge. It was all in their hands and they would empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry it forward. They understood now that all the scriptures pointed to Christ's death and resurrection and mankind's great need to repent and receive the forgiveness of sins. This saving gospel was to be told to the nations, starting at Jerusalem. Those eleven disciples were the thin band of evangelists called to share what they had lived for the past three years. They would live the rest of their lives, and die for this message of the gospel.

And in the two millennia since this time, Christ's followers must still be faithful to this sort of apostolic ministry of preaching the gospel. That has not changed. It is still the world's great need. We must understand that Christ's atoning work is THE MESSAGE of the Scriptures, and that proclaiming His death and resurrection for our repentance and the forgiveness of sins is our work in all the world. It makes the church, the church. As Jesus has transformed us, we are witnesses of these things too!

Lord Jesus,
I have a purpose with which to center my life and my joy. It is You. It is Your redeeming sacrifice and victory over death. It is Your transforming life over sin and the grave. The gospel is my defining hope and all that I need. And may its message indelibly saturate my life in my words and deeds, stained by the blood of Your cross, so that my life both in my words and my deeds may be used by You to be witness to Your great saving life!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

faceplanting Pharisees

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
Luke 20:49-40

In Luke 20 the Pharisees, Saducees, and scribes combined their opposition to confront the authority of Jesus. They failed spectacularly. I mean they do a total faceplant humiliating fail worthy of any highlight reel. They attempt to challenge the increasingly popular authoritative teaching of Jesus. Luke lets us know that the first few days of Passion Week are spent in the temple where Jesus gathers larger crowds each day with His teaching. The religious authorities are outraged at this and send their best to try to humiliate Jesus in front of the crowds. Jesus turns the tables on them every time!

They begin with the direct assault, asking Him for the source of His authority (Luke 20:1-8). Jesus asks them in return to give an opinion on the ministry of John the Baptist, another very popular teacher in Israel. Knowing that any answer they give would entrap them, they refuse to dialogue with Jesus. Faceplant #1!

So then the leaders plant spies in the crowds (Luke 20:18-26) and try to get Jesus in political trouble with a question about paying Roman taxes, a sure fire crowd shaking topic reminiscent of today's conservative talk radio shock jocks. Jesus uses a Roman coin as a visual aid (as if teaching children) and offers true wisdom... give to Caesar what is already his and give to God what is always His. Dumbfounded by Jesus' answer, the leaders faceplant a second time.

Faceplant number three is a classic example of wasted theological time. They call up their big gun Ph.D theologians now for the conundrum question (Luke 20:27-40). The liberal theologian Saducees concoct an elaborate theological mind-twister involving the resurrection and a woman who was widowed seven times. Using the logic of the false premise, Jesus deftly pulls the rug out from under their flimsy assertions, showing the ludicrous presumption they made of marriage after the resurrection. Like Wiley Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon, these "brilliant minds" are left hanging in midair over a cliff  fall with nothing left to support them. After this third epic fail, they finally give up on trying to trip up Jesus. It wasn't worth any further humiliation!

Don't think you can out think Jesus, ever! He is the only wise God and He will show your questions to be flimsy in the power and graciousness of His truth. Jesus, indeed, You have spoken well. I will believe You.

Monday, May 2, 2016

believing beyond death

Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
John 11:14-15

Death is not what we want to consider when we are alive. Every death we face in this life seems not to be right. It slaps us in the face. It puts a cold reality on our own mortality. Death forces us to ask questions of our own lives. And losing a loved one is so very difficult. The toughest stuff in life revolves around death.

All throughout the story of Lazarus there is a tension around death and the person of Jesus. The text is clear that Jesus loved the family of Lazarus. Yet Jesus delays returning to Judea to see His sick friend (John 11:6). And only after He knows that Lazarus has died does He tell His disciples that they are headed to see the family. And He is glad for what His disciples will see and believe there. Jesus knew He would defy death (John 11:11).

Still the tension and grief of death hangs all throughout this account. Martha reminds Jesus He could have healed her brother (John 11:21). So does Mary (John 11:32). Even the crowd of mourners is aware that Jesus could have changed the situation if only He had arrived while Lazarus was still alive (John 11:37). Everyone is quite aware of the power of Jesus over disease. They are about to learn of His towering command over death.

Jesus makes it clear as He prays to the Father before raising His friend from the grave that He is settling all these questions (John 11:42). The people witnessing this sign would believe. They would know Jesus raises the dead. And with that and three words, "Lazarus, come forth", Jesus powerfully gave us the answers beyond all our questions and pains about death. He can handle it.