John – God Speaks!
This is the time of year of keeping secrets from those we love so we can surprise them with the “perfect gift”. We work hard as parents or grandparents to wrap those gifts with thick paper so they will not see what is underneath all the wrapping. We tape and tie until we are satisfied that no one will guess what is in that package. Why? We want them to open it with excitement so we can see the surprised look on their faces with the shout, “That’s just what I wanted!”
Jesus, the greatest gift giver of all, is told that one of his dear friends is gravely ill. These dear friends in the ministry family, Mary, Martha and their brother, Lazarus have always been there for Jesus. The love between them is great. But now, Lazarus is VERY sick, to the point of death.
Jesus is told the extent of His friends illness but did not come running as one would expect Him to do. Instead, led by His Father in heaven, Jesus responds in a different, unexpected way. He tells those around Him that God will use this sickness (and death) to declare the glory and power of God.
John 10, New Living Translation
The Raising of Lazarus
A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”
9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
DO YOU BELIEVE?
Mary and Martha were tested in their faith by Jesus, Himself. They knew who Jesus was and what He was capable of doing but they were WRAPPED up in sorrow and grief over the loss of their brother. They fell into the mourning rituals with others as was the custom of the day. I wonder if Martha was wrapped up in worry thinking about feeding all the mourners and hosting their needs in all of this? We can’t help but recall her leadership serving personality!
Mary is mostly wrapped up in total mourning mode. Both relied on Jesus but they desired a completely different outcome from Jesus. “Lord, if you had been here…” They sent for Jesus and expected them to do what they wanted him to do.
Are we so wrapped up in having our own way, wanting Jesus to do what we ask that we miss the power and glory displayed in the greatest gift of all?
Are we wrapped up in worry and doubt, thinking all is lost?
Are we wrapped up in Martha-like defeat and protest? “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” No use in trying, Lord. It’s over.
No matter how much we think our problems “stink”, trust Jesus. It’s not over until Jesus says it’s over. Declare in prayer to God, May Your glory and power be seen in this problem or circumstance! Teach me, Lord!
UNWRAP the greatest gift of all and hold Him dear to your heart.
LET GO of all the wrappings of worry and regret, doubt and overthinking. AND clean up by throwing all that wrapping away, not to be seen again.
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” –Jesus
Do you believe this, Martha?
Imagine Jesus looking deep into your tearful eyes and asking you, “Do you believe this, Susan?”
What will you respond?
Unwrap us and let us go! Let us run to You, trust in you, obey you and BELIEVE, no matter what is going on at this very minute. We love you with all our hearts, minds and souls. May Your glory be seen in me. May I recognize you at work in all circumstances ..even today. AND give YOU praise! Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the Gift of Your Son! Thank you for saving my soul.
In Jesus Name, Amen