Dead Places


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,

friendship

and affection

… 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,

their friend,

their brother.


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,

your bud.


And they both knew

this would be easy

for Jesus to take care of.

He would arrive

and simply a word

and their brother,

their protector,

their provider,

their WORLD

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

the sting

of hurt,

disappointment

and accusation

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,

His friend,

their brother,

to die.


Is it acceptable in your personal theology

to be angry

(furious, hurt, disappointed)

with God?


Why or why not? Think about a time

when you struggled with your anger

or disappointment

toward God

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.

Jesus created

Mary,

Martha,

Lazarus


AND

the tomb

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

…why?


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.

He knows

what and

where they are,

but we must,

we MUST

take Him

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

and others that you choose to ignore…

Where have you laid these dead things?”

What would you answer?


The good,

no, the GREAT news

is that this is not where the story

of Lazarus,

of Mary

and Martha ends.


Jesus went to the place of the dead

and resurrection occurred.

I know you see the application…

In this season of your life

to which dead places

will you take Jesus?

What dead things

will you allow Him

to resurrect?

Kathy A. Sprinkle

2014

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