Dr. Lawrence Butler
The Bridge Church, Pembroke
John 11:39-44 The journey has been a long one for us, and I’m certain that the wait seemed much longer than it was for Mary and Martha as they anxiously looked for Jesus to show up. Though it seemed much too late for Him to do anything, it simply helped to assuage their grief to know He was present.
Sometimes all we can do is empathize with those who are hurting.
We seem as overwhelmed as the grieving to know what to say or do in times of deep despair. We can love. We can cry. We can share pain. We can pray. However, we can never really seem to reach the deep place of sorrow that swallows the disappointed, the aggrieved, and the bitter.
When Jesus arrives, everything changes. Yes, people are still crying. Yes, people are still grieving.
And, yes, Lazarus is still dead.
But, Life has now arrived, even if the crowd did not recognize it.
Life said, “…Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (11:40). Jesus challenges their faith just as He does ours so often.
Upon His arrival at the gravesite, Martha informs Jesus that Lazarus had been dead so long that decomposition had occurred and the body now exuded a bad odor. None of that stopped Jesus. No matter had bad things are in your life, perhaps your life has even become odorous, Jesus is coming for you. All you need to do is respond to His call, for He can and will change your life experience from one of death to one of life.
At the cemetery Jesus prays a rather strange prayer. He thanks the Father for hearing Him, and states that the reason for the prayer was so those present on that occasion might believe He was the Son of God and sent from the Father. When the prayer had ended, Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth” (11:43). What happened next still amazes both believers and critics alike. Lazarus came forth from the grave, despite being still wrapped in grave clothes.
Even his face was covered with a napkin. Jesus told them to loosen him and let Lazarus go. What a miracle! How could anyone there that day be an unbeliever? Many did believe and became followers of Christ. The response of others is our next message.