This morning I have been focused on the story of the death of Lazarus. Many of you know this story, however in the way of a review, He was a friend of Jesus, brother of Martha and Mary. When Lazarus became deathly ill, they sent for Jesus knowing that He was the Healer, yet He purposely waited for three days to go. When he arrived, Lazarus had already died, Martha was perhaps confused about a conversation she had with Jesus about the resurrection, Mary was weeping and Jesus wept. There is a lot going on in this story. Let’s unpack this together and apply it to our own lives. I love the stories in Scripture. I love that the Word is living and active like a two edged sword. I love that the Word applies to us even thousands of years after it was written, always giving us a fresh word for our daily lives.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha….whose brother was sick so the sisters sent for him, saying. Lord, he whom you love is ill. But When Jesus heard it he said: ” This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus so when he heard that Lazarus was sick he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (John 11)
Why did Jesus wait three days before going to his dying friend?
Jesus obviously loved these three siblings. The sisters even reminded Jesus that Lazarus was the one whom He loved. Jesus waited because He had a higher yes– to glorify His Father and to show that He has authority even over death.
By the time that Jesus arrived Lazarus had been in the grave for four days. Martha runs out to greet Him when He arrives and tells Him that if He had been there, Lazarus would not have died. Martha knew that nevertheless, Jesus was Sovereign and that whatever He asked God, He would do. And Jesus’s reply: “Your brother will rise again.” Now here begins the conversation about the resurrection between Martha and Jesus. Puzzling at best but hopeful.
I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
Jesus demonstrates through His words and action, that there is much more happening in this story than Lazarus’ death. He waited on purpose so that God would be glorified in his rising from death. He spoke to affirm that He had authority over death because He was and is and will be forever resurrection and life.
The scene changes and Mary enters weeping saying as her sister had said: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had cone with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled….. and Jesus wept.
There is so much wrapped up in this story that should speak to our hearts.
Jesus loved these three: Mary, Martha, Lazarus.
Jesus chose to let Lazarus die for a higher purpose
Jesus wept and the people said: “See how much he loved them.”
Complex, yet tender. Illuminating, yet confusing, but the higher purpose revealing how much he really loved them. He loved them unto death–ultimately His own death.
It was just before Passover and Jesus knew that His hour had come for him to leave the world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13:1)
And then he made His way to the cross and laid down His life as the Resurrection and the Life; as the way to the Father; as the One who loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus and you and me.
He loved. He wept, and He raised His friend Lazarus from the grave. So that brings me to a question for all of us to ponder.
Are you doubting God’s love for you? Are you waiting for someone to be healed or perhaps even yourself? Are you wondering why He is waiting and if there is a higher purpose in all of this? We all live through these moments when we like Mary and Martha say to Him:
If you had been here, this would not have happened.
Friends, we must remember that no matter what you are going through, or have gone through, or will go through. Jesus weeps at your sorrow and loves you to the end. He sees the big picture, and we have limited view of what is happening. Our hope is in one fact: He is the resurrection and the life and will resurrect what seems to be death in your life, to His ultimate glory and yours. Why? Because He loves you.
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