Good morning. It is Thursday, July 22, 2021
Yesterday I wrote about Mary and Martha. Today I want to look at their younger brother Lazarus.
We know that Jesus was good friends with the three siblings. The Bible talks about Him spending time in their home and in today’s story we know that Jesus must have been very good friends with the younger brother as he is referred to as the one “whom you love”.
This story finds the younger brother very ill. Mary and Martha sent a messenger to find Jesus and tell Him “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”
They knew that if Jesus would come, He could heal their brother.
They no doubt had seen His miracles; at the very least heard of them, and they knew just what to do; send for the Healer.
But when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, 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.”
That must have been reassuring! "This illness does not lead to death." Jesus said it, it must be so.
Do you find it odd that Jesus loved Martha and Mary and their younger brother, but instead of hurrying to their home, he stayed two days longer in the place where He was?
He had a point to prove. He wanted to show that this was going to be for the glory of God. He knew what He was doing.
Two days had passed when he told His disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”
Now this is a problem!
The Jews wanted to stone Jesus, and his disciples were questioning his decision: Are you sure you want to go there again?
Jesus told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”
Jesus knew Lazarus had died!
The disciples said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”
Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 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 11:13-15 ESV
Think about those words: "for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe."
This story is one of many references to death being like a sleep, but that it not my focus today.
My focus is what comes next.
By the time Jesus got there, Lazarus had been in the tomb 4 days!
He died. There was a funeral. There was a burial. Many people had come to the home of Martha and Mary to comfort them and to grieve with them.
During the grieving, word arrived that Jesus was on the outskirts of town. Martha went to Him, Mary however “remained seated in the house.”
I find this interesting.
The one who had sat at Jesus’ feet, hanging on every word, did not get up to meet him. I believe her grief was too great and perhaps her disappointment in Jesus was too great. She must have been thinking, “If only Jesus had come on time! If only he was not 4 days too late!”
Why was Jesus late?!?
Martha too must have had similar feelings and thoughts. As she approached Jesus she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
But she also knew there was power available if Jesus chose to use it. She said, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Martha, then went home and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”
Mary rose quickly and went to him.
Now Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house consoling her saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking that she was going to the tomb to weep.
When Mary came to 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.”
Oh, how her heart must have been breaking. There must have been great anguish as she questioned, why was Jesus too late? Why did He not come in time?
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved and greatly troubled.
He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They said “Lord, come and see.”
The bible tells us that “Jesus wept.”
I used to wonder about this. Although He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. Although He knew there would soon be a wonderful family reunion. Although He knew their tears would soon be replaced with shouts of joy, and their anguish would turn to gratitude…He was overcome with emotion. He did not just get watery eyes. He did not just have tears spill down His cheek; the Bible tells us He wept.
Have you ever wept? It is not a silent cry. it is filled with overwhelming emotion. Merriam-Webster describes it as “to shed tears often while making meaningless sounds as a sign of pain or distress”.
Some of the Jews present said, “See how he loved him!” but others, being a bit sarcastic asked, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay in front of the opening of the cave.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha replied “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
So, they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”
Lazarus came out of that tomb! His hands and feet were bound with linen strips, and his face was wrapped with a cloth and Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
You see, Jesus was not late. He wanted to show many, including the Jews, that He had a connection to the God of Heaven. He wanted to give glory to His Father. He was to be glorified with that action of raising this young man from the grave. He was giving people another chance to believe in Him. (Please read the whole story in John 11. It is rich.)
Have you ever wondered where God was? Have you ever asked Jesus, “where are you?” Have you ever lamented, “If only you had been here Lord!” Have you ever accused Him, “If only you had been on time!”
Jesus is never late! There is always a reason for His delay. Our job is to trust, to have faith, to remain calm, ever when the future looks dark. He is always on time! And His timing is perfect!