Lazarus

The account of Lazarus’ death exhibits a wonderful revelation of the character of our God. You know the story, Jesus is with his disciples and Mary and Martha send word that Lazarus is ill, “come quickly.” Jesus responds, “don’t worry, this doesn’t lead to death.” But you know the story, Lazarus dies! What is peculiar is the way Jesus phrased it. “This illness does not LEAD to death.” The Greek reads: “This weakness/sickness is not toward death.” However, Lazarus dies! Verse 14, Jesus clearly validates this, “Lazarus has died…” So we enter the paradox. What could Jesus mean saying something so obviously contrary to what he has already said? Can Jesus’ words exist in paradox? Or is their something wrong with the way we see time as having a beginning and an end? So I’ll leave you with the question to ponder. How can Jesus say, “this sickness does not lead to death.” And then follow that with “Lazarus has died!?” (Just a note, he still dies, even though he is resurrected, he still dies.)
Then Jesus states, Lazarus is sick for the glory of God! How remarkably strange it is that Jesus is claiming that Lazarus is sick for the sake of Jesus’ glory. Clearly the rest of the story must explain this. And so, the resurrection explains this mighty statement.
Then, Jesus, because he loves Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, delays for two days. It sounds weird when you stop there doesn’t it? Because Jesus loves them, he waits until Lazarus is dead? (There goes the prosperity gospel out the window! If this story is applied the way prosperity gospel preachers apply Abraham’s blessing, Jesus wants you to die in your sickness!) Because Jesus loves them, they will suffer great emotional strain! Because Jesus loves them, they will experience death. Because He loves them, one of them will die. Because He loves them…. Because he loves them… Could it be that sometimes we encounter the greatest struggles in life, because He loves?
Jesus then says, “let’s go to Judea again.” The disciples are naturally concerned, considering, the people in Judea just one chapter before tried to stone him. Yet, Jesus persists, we are going because Lazarus is dead! So here I want to rest for a moment. Jesus first waits two days, because he loves this family. Then he goes to be with them, to feel this trial the way they do. He goes to stand with them in their trials. He weeps with Mary and reasons with Martha. Our God engages us at our very core. He walks through the trials that are so difficult for us. When I say “He walks through the trials,” I don’t mean He walks by our side or that he carries us through them (though many times He does). What I mean is that he falls with us and feels the pain we feel. He takes our trials upon Himself. He carries our hurts and mourns with us. He lets us reason, answering our intellectual questions with clear and definite answers. Our God is personal and gracious. When we live here in this desert land, waiting for the promised hope of Glory to return, we have a God who lives with us, leading us through the desert, teaching us to be more like Him, and dwelling amongst us. He bleeds with us, weeps with us, and finally breaths hope into us. Our God cares enough to listen, walk with us, and live with us. What a great God!

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