Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jesus and his friend Lazarus

I have fallen in love with the story of Jesus and Lazarus. There’s so much more to the story that we see at first glance. This is what we know from reading John 11, the only book in the New Testament that records Lazarus’ miraculous resurrection.

Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, were Jesus’ let your hair down friends. He would go there and hang out to rest and regroup after many of his journey’s and important times of ministry. They all just loved to be together; living life as friends.

So, it was strange when Jesus heard that Lazarus was really sick and about to die that he waited two full days before he left to go see him. When he got to their home, it was too late. Lazarus had already been in the grave for four days. Martha spoke to Jesus and told him that if he had been there, Lazarus would have lived. Mary spoke the same message.

Notice how much of this story is about timing. Jesus waited after hearing the message of Lazarus’ illness. Martha and Mary stated that “if he had come earlier, the outcome would be different.” They had faith to believe that Jesus could work a miracle if he was present, but couldn’t fathom how one would take place after Lazarus’ death.

None of it bothers Jesus, however, because he knows that they, along with his disciples, have an opportunity to step into a deeper realm of faith as they learn that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Jesus told Martha, “You don’t have to wait for the day of heaven: I AM, today, right now, the Resurrection and Life.”

I AM: the same name that God gave to Moses when he asked who he was. I AM means that “I AM Eternal: I live today, tomorrow and yesterday.” I AM has the same interpretation as I WILL BE THERE.

God is timeless. He is the One who created time and he does not have to be bound by time as people do. Because he is timeless, Jesus was able to go to Bethany four days after Lazarus died and speak to an open grave telling it to give up its dead.

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!” Jesus shouted. Jesus knew that Lazarus would come out because Jesus is the Sovereign Lord over all creation: even death. He is not bound by time, by circumstances or by his character. His character is life and resurrection, and he demonstrated that very clearly by calling his friend from death to life.

Why do you think that Jesus chose to resurrect Lazarus? It could have been a host of reasons: he loved Lazarus and wanted more time with him; except in just days, Jesus himself would be laid in a grave. Maybe he didn’t want Martha and Mary to become destitute as they would without their brother’s provision. Perhaps it was to demonstrate to the doubters that He was truly God.

I wonder, however, if Jesus chose to resurrect Lazarus as a message to those that he loved. He knew that in just a few days time his friends would be suffering beyond description when they saw him hang from a cross and die. He wanted to assure them that he was I AM and in that he was the same yesterday, today and forever. His character, his name and his timing transcends all boundaries, making it possible for Jesus himself to move from death to life, destroying forever his enemy of death.

Where are you challenged to believe that Jesus is the same today as he was at Creation or when he walked the earth?

Do you believe that he is present with you, even when you can’t see him?

Do you believe that he cares about your heartache and grief as much as he did Martha and Mary’s broken heart?

Do you believe that he can raise the dead, just as he did with his friend Lazarus?

We have an invitation to know Jesus beyond the boundaries of what we can see. Faith is being sure of what we hope for: certain of what we cannot see. Take some time this week to consider the story of Jesus and Lazarus and ask your loving Father to show you the heart behind what took place.

As you experience more of the Father’s heart for you, then take courage and ask the questions of where you struggle to believe beyond what you can see. Identify with Mary and Martha in their limited eyesight, until they fully experienced the GREAT I AM RESURRECTING THE DEAD!

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