Today, my Bible reading was John 11:1-44
My first amazing insight came from verse 5, about Martha and not Lazarus. It gladdened my heart because I am so much like Martha.
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
Martha – concerned with many “things,” irritated, jealous, self-pitying Martha; Jesus loved her. Bossy, critical, no-time-for-sitting-and-listening-to-Jesus-because-of-all-the-things-that-needed-to-be-done Martha; Jesus loved her. Martha – resentful, accusing Jesus of not loving them enough to come to them in their need; Jesus loved her. Prickly, unyielding, yet willing to believe and obey Martha; Jesus LOVED her. He loved Martha!
(But Martha will have her day in John 12.)
So a certain man, Lazarus of Bethany, was ill and his sisters sent to Jesus to come help (heal) him. Jesus told his disciples that Lazarus’ illness did not lead to death, but that it was for the glory of God, so that the Son of God would be glorified through it. And He lingered by the Jordan River for TWO MORE DAYS.
Then he told his disciples, “Let us go to Judea again. Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep and I go to awaken him.”
Hey, he’s sleeping, he must be getting better, thought his disciples.
Nope. Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for YOUR sakes I’m glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”
Martha met Jesus as they were coming. “Lord, IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE my brother would have not died!”
“But… even now,” she conceded, “I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give you.”
Jesus: “Your brother will rise again.”
“Yes, I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus: I AM the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”
How would Martha, in mourning for her little brother, respond to this?
In faith. “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Then, seeing their sorrow & weeping, and the compassion & question of their fellow mourners, Jesus came to the tomb. “Take away the stone.”
Practical, realist Martha said, “Lord by this time he stinks for he has been dead four days!”
“Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the Glory of God?”
So… Martha told them to take away the stone.
After looking to heaven and thanking His Father… Jesus shouted, “LAZARUS, COME OUT!”
And the dead man heard and came out, his hands and feet bound with linen burial strips.
“Unbind him, and let him go,” said the Creator and Sustainer of life.
Oh, Lord, command that I be unbound too, from worldliness, from love of things, from selfishness, self-righteousness, vainglory and pride! Jesus, command that I be let go, freed from these things that weigh me down and keep me from abundant life in You!
(Hmm…were Lazarus’ hands and feet bound individually? Were they bound tight together like a mummy? Did Lazarus rise as a single form and… float out???)
Regardless of how, Lazarus HAD to obey Christ’s command. And if Jesus had not specifically named Lazarus, ALL the dead would have come forth from the tombs!
And one day they will.
I Thessalonians 4:16 says of Jesus’ second coming, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command… And the dead in Christ will rise!”
O glorious day!
Colossians 2:13-14: “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses by canceling out the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting LIFE.”
For victory over death and the grave, and for eternal life, thank You, Jesus!