In the recent few weeks, we’ve been looking at a family who was close to Jesus and their unique interactions with Him. We looked at Martha, her practical, rational discussion with Jesus and her concern with convention and achievement. We also looked at Mary last week and came to see that her experience with Jesus around her brother’s death was lots more emotional than Martha’s experience in the same event.
I bring these women to your attention because even though they went through the same event, the death of Lazarus their brother, each sister had a very different experience. Their individual experience with Lazarus’ death was entirely legit even though they were drastically different.
For this week, let’s look at Lazarus as the final member in this sibling group and consider his experience with Jesus in relation to his death. For starters, it’s important to recognize that Jesus loved Lazarus, as evidenced by his sisters and the Jews who came to mourn Lazarus’ death.
John 11:3, “So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’”
John 11:36, “So the Jews were saying, ‘See how He loved him!’”
Although we don’t see any verses in the Gospels that would illuminate the interaction between Jesus and Lazarus to reveal their relationship, it’s clear from the sisters’ words and the Jewish mourners observation that Jesus had a strong and loving relationship with Lazarus. And because of such a deep and connected relationship with Lazarus, perhaps this is why Jesus waited until he died before He showed up at Bethany, the town where these siblings lived. With the majority of Jesus’ healings and miracles, the recipients didn’t have an in-depth relationship with Jesus before their healing. But Lazarus did.
I wonder if Lazarus was frustrated that Jesus didn’t come and heal him when he was sick and just before he died. I also wonder what Lazarus felt and thought when Jesus raised him back to life after he was dead for four days. I wonder what was going through his mind and emotions when his hands and feet were bound, along with his eyes covered, coming out of the tomb. And I can only imagine the reaction of the crowd and Martha when they saw Lazarus who had been dead for some days, coming out of the tomb. Who loosed his feet and hands? Who took off the burial cloth that was wrapped around his face?
Lazarus was very dead when Jesus showed up at his tomb. Consider that Lazarus’ sisters and the Jewish mourners who came to comfort these sisters were completely convinced that Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death if He would have shown up more punctually. It’s also interesting to me that the lives of Martha, Mary and Lazarus returned to their “regular existence” as we read in John 12:2, “So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.” This experience reminds us of the first time that we read about Jesus showing up in this home in Luke 10:38-42, eating a meal and teaching, Mary listening and Martha serving. From Lazarus’ experience with Jesus and being raised from the dead, let’s consider some important applications for our lives. As a starting point, let’s be committed to cultivating and sustaining a deeply connected relationship with Jesus, no matter what we go through in our lives. Additionally, let’s consider that when Jesus doesn’t do what we want or expect, it’s possible that He has somesthing drastically better in mind than our limited human expectations. Finally, let’s allow everyone to experience Jesus in unique ways that complement the divine design inside of them. You can’t be someone else, so the best way to be your best self is by staying deeply in love with Jesus.