The story of Lazarus is one that always fascinates me. It tells of the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the grave by Jesus and it is a fore-runner of the even more miraculous resurrection of Jesus Himself not long afterwards.
Lazarus had been dead for four days, and in those times, Jewish mysticism taught that a dead person’s spirit remained around the body for up to three days before departing. It was well-known in Israel that someone deceased could come back to life during this three day period, but on the fourth day, the spirit left the body and went to Sheol or Hades.
When Lazarus first became sick, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus to come and heal their brother. They believed that the Master could make him well but when they called for Jesus, He did not come. In fact, we read in John: 11 that, when Jesus heard the news of Lazarus death, He remained two more days in the place where He was staying.
Finally, on the fourth day, Jesus appeared at the edge of the city and Martha and then Mary, ran to meet Him.
No doubt Martha was glad to see Him, but maybe she was also upset that He had not come earlier and mad too, and she may have said to Him in frustration and anger, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21).
Perhaps, because of the changes in our lives right now, you too might be angry or sad or mad. Maybe you believe that there is something in your life that has not worked out as you planned. Perhaps it is a marriage or a relationship or a business or a dream or a ministry that has been cut short or died and it cannot be brought back to life. Perhaps it is children who are not on track or a person or an investment and it seems too far gone to be saved. Maybe our new normal right now has brought sadness and loss and disappointment into your life.
Martha knew that after four days, the body of Lazarus would be decaying and that there was no hope for life without a miracle.
But Jesus had told His disciples in John 11:4, This sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.
Jesus was true to His word. He wept. He showed His love and compassion for the family and He hurried to the tomb. He called forth life and for the graveclothes to be loosed and for ‘he who had died to come out’ (John 11:46).
When Jesus called Lazarus to life from the dead on the fourth day and healed his rotted corpse, the people knew that He was indeed the true Messiah performing genuine miracles as the prophets had foretold. The Son of God was glorified.
For all of us, around the world, this is a time like no other. 2000 years ago, there was also a time like no other, when Jesus was beaten and battered and tried unfairly and died on a cross at Calvary. Like Lazarus, He was raised supernaturally from the dead but His purpose was to take on the sins and cares and concerns of the world, to love us and to bring us into eternal life. He died for us, to stand in the gap of righteousness for us before the Father and to bring us, as Lazarus, into new life.
Like Mary and Martha, we discover that as we step out and run to Jesus, He will meet us . Whether we are sad or glad or mad, He meets us wherever we are at. Whatever our circumstances – alone, in lockdown, in anger, in disappointment, in hurt, in grief, Jesus is with us.
We can choose to come to Jesus, no matter how we feel. He will meet us where we are, because that is who He is. We can believe in His miracle working power, because that is why He came – to raise dead things to life, to bring new life into old dreams and to bring resurrection into that which we thought was rotten and decayed.