Have you ever been in a hospital waiting room? Waiting for news from the doctor and hoping for a miracle; while praying your heart out and making promises to God? Let my loved one get well, bring them through this operation and I promise I will do this or that. Then the doctor comes out and you know right away by the look on his face that it is bad news. Perhaps, for a while you feel God has let you down.
We may feel like Martha in today’s gospel. She is mad at Jesus. It sounds polite in the story. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” No, in reality she was very upset. He had healed so many, that He did not even know. Now when His best friend needs Him, He is out of town. Against all expectations, He delays two days. When He finally arrived, some of the grieving Jews were not particularly impressed by Jesus’ tears.
Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying? But, Jesus’ love for Lazarus goes beyond what His sister had been silently asking. Do not let him die. Listen again to the dialogue with Martha and Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
In other words, eternal death is not separation of the soul from the body. It is the separation of the soul from God. Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. This is so important that Jesus asks her, “Do you believe this?” I wonder if she paused before she said yes. Then Jesus does the unexpected. He orders that the stone be rolled away from the tomb. Then He calls out loudly to Lazarus, “Come out.”
Picture the scene, hundreds of people standing around straining to see what He is going to do. I’m sure the silence was deafening; you could have heard a pin drop. How the voice of Jesus rang through those hills, “Lazarus, come out.” To the shock and dismay of all, Lazarus appears out of the darkness of the tomb. Jesus orders, “untie him and let him go.” This was probably one of the greatest miracles of Jesus.
Probably, the one that sealed His fate. The raising of Lazarus was the crucial moment in the plot to kill Jesus. The popularity of Jesus reached a critical level after this miracle. Thus, the level of threat to the status-quo leadership was overwhelming. From this point on they will plot openly against Him.
Ironically, it would be the act of restoring a friend to life that would set in motion the events that led to Jesus’ death.
It could be said that as Jesus stood before Lazarus’ tomb calling him out, that He would be changing places with Lazarus. There are many lessons to be taken from this gospel. But, perhaps, it all comes down to how you answer the question Jesus puts to Martha. I am the resurrection and the life. And, whoever, is alive and believes in Me, will never die.
I leave you with the same question, do you believe this? Do you believe this?