John 11: 17-44
I have read the story of Lazarus’s resurrection many times, but have never thought about it in terms of my own resurrection and life everlasting. Jesus made a choice to wait four days to show the world his purpose here and resurrection so that those who believe might have life everlasting through forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus arrives in Bethany where Lazarus has died four days ago. Mary and Martha are in mourning for their brother. When they hear that Jesus has arrived in Bethany, Martha quickly goes to meet him while Mary chooses to stay behind at the house. I know there is significance here, about how the death impacts these two women, I can see that everyone responds to death and grieving in different ways. Martha is angry as scripture soon shares, but Mary sees no reason to go ahead to Jesus and point fingers since her brother is gone and continues to mourn in her home. It is a reminder that people all grieve differently and feel the loss of loved ones from their lives in different ways.
Martha arrives to meet Jesus in what I read as upset and even angry with Jesus for not coming sooner, and tells Jesus that Lazarus would not have died had he come sooner. Yet, she believes that even now Jesus can bring Lazarus back to them. Martha has tremendous faith. This faith is one that I can quickly read over, but her belief in the resurrection of her brother is real and she is not afraid to utter the words to Jesus. Jesus responds to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha agrees that he will one day rise again in the last days, and Jesus then responds to her once again with, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me , though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believe in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Martha responds that she believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Once again Jesus is reminding not just Martha and those with her but the world that life everlasting only comes from him. He wants to hear the words from Martha and she has no hesitation in her belief even as she mourns her brother’s death. She stands strong in her faith.
Martha returned to her sister and to tells her that Jesus was asking for her, so Mary leaves and goes to meet Jesus. She arrives and falls before Him saying as her sister that if Jesus had been here Lazarus would be alive. Mary comes to Jesus not with anger but with grief. When Jesus saw her weeping he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. The emotions of Mary move something inside of Jesus.
Mary takes Jesus to the tomb. Jesus wept. This one line in scripture is short yet powerful. Jesus wept for Lazarus for Mary and Martha, and for the world. Maybe Jesus is even weeping for himself because he knows what is about to happen in order to bring Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and me into his kingdom. Then Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. He asks his Father aloud so that others could see and believe, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus does not need to speak to his Father aloud, but he does, so that the world would see his example and the image of resurrection about the happen.
Lazarus walks out of his tomb just as Christ would soon rise from the dead and walk from his tomb to cleanse us of our sins. Such a bold move by God. Such a sacrifice of both God and Christ just to bring me into the family. I want to rise from my grave like Lazarus! I want to walk the streets of gold made for me. I want live with my Father and Christ one day!
I revisited the resurrection of Lazarus recently at a funeral. At first I found it odd for this passage to be chosen, but as the funeral continued and the story was told again in this setting, I could see how important it was to send hope to others that through Christ and Christ alone can we be saved. Lazarus was only saved by Jesus and I can only be saved by Jesus as well. What a beautiful message as we said goodbye to a beautiful young woman. She will Rise. I will Rise. Amen