Have you ever read a well-known Scripture,
thinking you had mined all the gems of Truth buried in it
only to have “AHA!” moment
where you realized you had missed oh, so much of what was there?
That has been my recent experience
with the account of the raising of Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus,
found in the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John.
Jesus appeared to be
an adopted member of the family of Lazarus
and his two unmarried sisters,
Mary and Martha.
Their home in Bethany was a place
where He could
kick off His sandals and rest;
a place of food,
… a place to retreat
from literally bearing the weight of the world
on His shoulders.
The three siblings were devoted to His teachings,
but they were also committed to HIM,
Lazarus became gravely ill
and the sisters sent word for Jesus to come.
They said, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
In other words this is not
some crazy demoniac,
an unknown leper in a crowd…
…this is Lazarus,
your dear friend,
And they both knew
this would be easy
for Jesus to take care of.
He would arrive
and simply a word
and their brother,
would be healed.
Except Jesus didn’t come
…and their brother died.
My friend, Pastor Ken Hutcherson says,
“Love often waits…
He let two sisters lose a brother,
He let a brother lose his life…
and they all three ended up finding out the difficult lesson
of what it means to let God love you.
They would not have learned the lesson
any other way.”
For what has God made you wait
until you thought your heart would break?
For what are you waiting now,
either for yourself or dear loved ones?
How does waiting strengthen
or weaken your relationship with God?
Think of times when it has done
each of those things…
When Jesus finally arrived,
Lazarus had been dead for 4 days.
Martha went out to meet Jesus…
Mary, the one who we saw earlier in the Gospels
sitting at the feet of Jesus while He taught,
oblivious to all else,
would not even go out to see Him.
After Martha encouraged her,
Mary did go to see Him,
but her response was the same as her sister’s,
“If you would have been here,
my brother would not have died.”
Can you FEEL
in those words?
Actually, He hadn’t even needed to be there.
Jesus could have healed Lazarus remotely;
He had healed others that way,
but He chose to allow Lazarus,
Is it acceptable in your personal theology
to be angry
(furious, hurt, disappointed)
Why or why not? Think about a time
when you struggled with your anger
because of something He did
or did not do…
Have you forgiven Him?
Or did you just try to forget it?
Where are you in the process?
After this interaction, Jesus asked Mary
a question I had never noticed.
He said, “Where have you laid him?”
Ponder that with me a second.
Jesus knew if He waited
Lazarus would die.
He knew He was going to raise
Lazarus from the dead.
in which Lazarus now lay
…did He really not know
where Lazarus was buried?
I think the question was for Mary,
not for information.
In whatever emotional state Mary found herself,
the reality was that
Mary’s only brother was dead.
She and her sister were alone in a man’s world…
The One person who could have helped did not
…and now He asked this question
Because Mary had to take Him
to the dead place,
the very symbol
of her greatest pain
and most dreaded fear.
As with Mary,
we must take Jesus
to the dead places in our lives.
where they are,
but we must,
to the places
where our dreams died,
where our self-esteem passed away,
where our faith in others
and in Him
was fatally wounded.
If Jesus came to you and said,
“Where have you laid them?
The unresolved hurts…
The unforgiven buried offenses…
The anger toward me