Heard the story of Lazarus lately? You know, the one where Jesus raises a guy from the dead? It’s probably my favorite “miracle story” in the bible. When I read this story, I can just feel how excited Jesus must have been to be able to show the people His Father’s glory, and how frustrated He must have become during the whole ordeal.
At the beginning of the story, Jesus gets word from Mary and Martha that Lazarus, Mary’s brother, is sick. He immediately responds, saying Lazarus won’t die – this whole thing is only happening so God can show people who Jesus is (which is God’s son). Then, he waited for two days before he went back to Judea where Lazarus was, saying “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him!”
This is my favorite line in this story: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him!” Can’t you just hear Jesus’ excitement when He says this? He’s like a kid who’s dad just took the training wheels off his bike: He’s excited to show everyone what his dad showed him! Then his disciples chime in, saying “If he’s sleeping, he’ll get better!” They didn’t realize what Jesus was saying. So He told them. “Lazarus is dead.” He lets them know they’re about to see what God can do. “And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe! Come, let’s go see him!”
When Jesus gets to Judea, Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. FOUR DAYS. That’s nearly a full work week being dead. Because of this, Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” To which Jesus responds “Your brother will rise again.”
At this, Martha plays the role of faithful, positive-minded believer, and says “Yes. He will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
This is about when Jesus starts to change tone. He says to 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?” To which Martha responds, “Yes, of course I do.” Martha then goes and gets Mary, who then goes to meet Jesus outside of town, and is followed by all the people trying to comfort her. When Mary had met Jesus, she said to him, ” Lord if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus didn’t like it when she said that. In fact, it says when Jesus saw everyone weeping with her, “a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled.” (John 11:33) He then asks them “Where have you put him? When they told Jesus they took Lazarus to the tomb, “Jesus wept.”
I love that verse. “Jesus wept.” It’s amazing what we can learn from those two words when they’re in context. Everyone was crying during this story. A man they loved just died, but that’s not why Jesus wept. Everyone there thought that’s why He started crying, but it was really for the exact opposite reason. He cried because the people showed no faith in his Father. They assumed Jesus was too late, and threw him in the tomb, and kept saying “If only.” Their lack of faith broke His heart, and even after he wept, people still doubted him, saying “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
Jesus was annoyed. He was angry, even as they reached Lazarus’ tomb. He had them roll away the stone, and still Martha doubted Him. She was worried about the smell from the tomb, to which Jesus responds (probably rather sternly):
“Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled away the stone, and after Jesus thanked God for always listening to Him (which he only said out loud so the people would know who to give credit to), he shouts three words. “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus did just that.
When I read this story, it’s hard for me not to see all of Jesus’ emotions throughout the story. He starts out giddy. God’s gonna use him to raise a man from the dead! He gets to show everyone what he can do through his Father! How could he not be excited?
And then the pessimistic mortals enter. They lack faith. They’re too busy having a pity party that Jesus didn’t show up before Lazarus died to see the potential in front of them. To tell the truth, I probably would’ve been the life of that pity party. But God is so much bigger than that, and it annoys Jesus – even angers him – that no one sees God’s potential in this situation.
I love how intentional Jesus is in letting the whole situation develop. He waits before he heads to Judea. He knew that Lazarus was going to die, and he knew that God was going to give him a great opportunity through it – so he waited until Lazarus was dead before he headed to Judea, and He constantly reminded Mary and Martha of what can be done through faith once he got to Judea, but they still didn’t understand.
We can’t be like Mary or Martha, or anyone mourning with them. We must realize what God can do when we have faith in Him. He can raise a man 4 days dead back to life. It says in the bible that we can move mountains with our faith in God. God gets annoyed when we make Him small. He shows it all over the bible. Remember the Israelites reaching the promised land, and being afraid to fight the giants living there, even though God told them they’d win? God didn’t like that, and He still doesn’t like it when we sell him short. The thing about God is He doesn’t change. Four days of being dead is still no big deal to Him. Whenever you find yourself in a faith testing situation, remember: FOUR DAYS DEAD IS NOTHING TO GOD. He’ll get you through, if you put your faith in Him.