This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Consider reading John 11:17-44 prior to reading this post.
So as we move on with our story – Jesus has arrived in Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. It has been 4 days since Lazarus’ death. Take note of the number of days. 4 days leaves nothing to chance, 4 days means finality, 4 days means only He could be the Messiah, because only the Messiah could cause death to retreat in its tracks.
As Jesus nears the city, word gets back to Martha He is coming. Being the assertive sister, she goes to meet Jesus just outside the city.
When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” John 11:20-22*
Martha has faith, but has limited the options it can produce. Even after Jesus tells her Lazarus will live again, she continues to misunderstand the gravity of Jesus’ remarks.
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” John 11: 25-26
Martha, the analytical sister – can you hear her mind clicking, calculating what Jesus is saying, but not able to fully comprehend what was said? Yes, she knew Jesus was the Messiah, that God had sent Him, but no one had ever returned after being dead for 4 days. What in the world was Jesus saying?
Then the Scriptures infer that Jesus sent her to get Mary. Mary, the sensitive one, who is still at home grieving her brother’s death. Interestingly, Mary, who was spoken so kindly of by Jesus earlier in the Scriptures, would now instill anger in the Lord. She wasn’t alone in this; however, the “crowd” had a hand in it as well.
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. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. John 11: 33-34
And the people respond innocently – come and see! Then the Scriptures record a pivotal moment in the story.
Then Jesus wept. John 11:35
Three little words that carry so much meaning. How Jesus’ heart was breaking, so much so that it brought Him to tears. Jesus was not weeping for Lazarus as the crowd assumed, because the Bible records He had not even arrived at the tomb yet! No, He wept for the people standing before Him, for their unbelief. How it must have been unbearable to Him. Could they be this close, and yet, so far from Him?
Once at the tomb, Jesus gives a command:
“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.” John 11:39
Can’t you hear the gasp that must have rippled through the crowd? Can you see Martha’s face go white as she protests, and then is quickly scorned by Jesus? What a hush that must have fallen over them as Jesus began to pray out loud to God. And then, utter silence as He makes a second command -not to them, but at the opening of the tomb: Lazarus come forth! (verse 43)
With everyone holding their breath, hands covering their open mouths, eyes fixed squarely on the opening of the tomb, time must have crawled ever so slowly, until … out emerges Lazarus still wrapped in his grave-clothes! What an ending!
For a moment, let’s go back just a few verses. What was it that Jesus said?
… “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” John 11:40
Are you a true believer? Do you believe He can do all things? Will it take a Lazarus to convince you? Today, believe, and see the glory of God!
*All Scriptures taken from the New Living Translation.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.