Sunday, 6 April 2014
What do we learn from the Lazarus episode?
Let's recap quickly (John Chapter 11).
Jesus was in a town not far from Bethany when He receives a message from Martha and Mary that their brother Lazarus is ill. Jesus does not hurry to heal Lazarus but He stays put. He tells His disciples that this illness will not result in Lazarus' death. The disciples, as ever, do not understand. They think that Lazarus has fallen asleep because of his illness. Jesus spells it out "Lazarus is dead!" and then decides to go to him.
When He arrives at Bethany, followed by His disciples, Jesus is met by Martha.
She is full of grief at her brother's death. She sent a message to Jesus two days earlier and now He comes. When it's too late. She says to Jesus "If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died!"
She reprimands Jesus. In her grief, she does not know what to say.
Then she adds, "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for". She still believes that God can do anything through Jesus.
When we are in great grief, or despair, we sometimes lash out at God. We blame Him for what has happened. This is only natural. It is our human nature speaking.
God knows that and He can take our anger. After all, He took all our anger and hatred when He hung there from the Cross.
Like in Martha's case, God forgives. We should in return hold on to our Faith and believe that everything is possible to God.
Mary joins her sister to meet Jesus and she too says "If you had been here Lazarus would not have died". The crowd murmur that Jesus healed many sick people why did He not come earlier to save Lazarus.
Jesus asks for the tomb to be opened. Martha tells Him that there will be a bad smell. Lazarus has been buried for four days. In a hot climate the body would have began to smell badly.
The tomb is opened and Jesus raises Lazarus.
Why did Jesus take so long to visit Lazarus? Why wait four days after his death and burial to turn up?
In the past, Jesus raised many people from the dead. So why did He wait so long this time?
In previous miracles, many sceptics and cynics would have said that the individual was probably not dead. He may have been in a deep sleep, or in a coma. Not much of a miracle.
This time Jesus waited for four days after death and burial to turn up and raise Lazarus. He wanted there to be no doubt that Lazarus is dead and that he has been raised back to life. No doubt that God's glory, through Him, will be seen by everyone.
He predicted from the very start, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, that he would not end up dead. The disciples did not understand, but Jesus explained that Lazarus was indeed dead; but will not end up dead.
His words "The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the son of God will receive glory."
Our lesson is to learn that when things go wrong ... very ... very wrong; we need only believe that the end result will be that God is glorified, as is His will.