Sunday, 2 April 2017
The Resurrection of Lazarus
"So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was."
Note that Jesus does not go straightaway to heal Lazarus. He waits for two more days. He also says that this illness will not lead to death.
"When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days ... Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’"
Jesus arrives after Lazarus has been dead for four days. This is very significant. In those days some people believed that the soul does not leave the body until after three days. Jesus wanted to make sure that Lazarus was dead before performing His miracle. He did not want anyone to suggests that Lazarus was just sleeping or in a coma; as may well have happened in previous occasions when He raised someone from the dead. This time He wanted to make sure that the people understood that the power of God can raise people from the dead.
Notice also how Martha reprimands Jesus. "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."
Don't we too, kick back and blame God when something goes wrong in our lives? Note also the faith in that very sentence. She believes that Jesus could have saved Lazarus, had He been here. She reprimands Jesus. That in itself is an expression of faith. There is no point in reprimanding or getting angry with someone who can do nothing about it. But the very fact she reprimands Jesus shows that she knew He could do something about it had He been there.
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.
"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. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’"
He re-iterates His message that He has the power to raise Lazarus. And Martha too, confirms that she believes Jesus is the Son of God.
"When Mary reached the place 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.”
This is also significant. 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 said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’"
Let there be no doubt that Lazarus is dead.
"And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’"
Jesus re-affirms to His Father that this miracle is to make the people believe that He is the Son of God. This whole episode in Christ's life has one main purpose. To make the people believe.
Jesus deliberately arrived late to ensure that Lazarus was dead. Let there be no doubt about that. His sister and the crowd knew that. After four days, in the hot heat, the body would have decomposed and begin to smell.
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.
Jesus says "unbind him, and let him go." Let that be a message to us when we are unbound from our sins and let go freely forgiven once again.
"Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him."
At last ... some ... of the Jews believed.
From the very beginning Jesus had said, "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.