Over the past few weeks I have been stuck thinking about one of my life journal entries and today I thought I would share.
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’
When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
Let me break this down for you. Lazarus was a follower of Jesus but not just someone in the crowd, Lazarus and his sisters were people who Jesus loved and cared for deeply. When Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus it wasn’t just someone hoping that Jesus would have mercy on them but was a very personal request to their friend.
At their message Jesus proclaims something that we all want to hear: that the sickness wouldn’t be terminal but instead that He would be glorified through this sickness. That was the promise – that death would not prevail but instead God would be glorified.
“So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’”
Okay wait. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick He stayed where He was? On purpose? Jesus, the Messiah, stayed where He was, on purpose, when He knew Lazarus was sick? Would you, on purpose, stay where you were if someone you LOVED was sick and you could help them?
Thankfully the story doesn’t end here.
“So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’”
“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”
“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 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.’ “
There are so many things in this passage that I saw in a new way this past year. Here are the high level ones:
ONE: When Jesus is talking with His disciples He tells them that He is glad FOR THEIR SAKE that Lazarus died. Lazarus’ death and the seeming death of a promise wasn’t even about Lazarus but instead was about others.
We often get stuck in what a promise means to us that we don’t stop to think about how a promise AND it’s fulfillment brings about believing in those around us. Although God’s promises to us are birthed out of love for us they also have a grander plan of bringing God’s glory to all those who surround us:
SECOND: Jesus was deeply moved by Mary’s emotions. Even though Jesus knew the final outcome and knew the joy that would come He was still moved and mourned with Mary.
The same is true in our own lives. Jesus knows the joy and celebration that is to come and yet He is still moved to mourn with us in our moments of sorrow. And as we look at the lives of others and see what God is doing we should not loose sight of mourning in the moment as we wait for the joy that is to come.
THIRD: Jesus speaks out and prays to God not for Himself, but for the benefit of others.
Sometimes when God is doing something in our life and WE KNOW what He is doing it is still important to PROCLAIM it so that others may join in and believe with us.
FOURTH: Lazarus wasn’t raised to life as a zombie or having to wear his grave clothes for the rest of his life. He was not only raised to life but He was redeemed back to who He was before.
When God redeems our once dead promises they won’t be zombie promises. We do not have to settle for less than the fullness of all that God has for us. Jesus states in John 10:10 that He comes to give life and life to the fullest (in abundance, in the fulness of all life can be).
We all experience at one moment or another a promise that looks as though it is dead. The truth is that it MAY BE DEAD but thankfully our God is the one who brings the dead back to life.
We don’t have to be dismayed even when our promises are laying dead, for God in His plan will bring them back to life, and in the process others will believe.