Raising of Lazarus
11 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair.[a]Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people[b] in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”
9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!”13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin,[c] said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles[d]down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[e] Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.”29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,[f] and he was deeply troubled.34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “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.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (Biblehub.com, New Living Translation)
I cannot begin to tell you how many times in my life I have prayed, and it seemed as if God was completely silent. As Christians, we believe that God hears our prayers. So, praying when God seems silent can be disheartening. But just because God does not respond right away does not mean that he is unaware. He is. This is why Jesus encourages us not to worry. In the book of Matthew, he teaches, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat or what will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.’”
In the account of Lazarus, the need was quite a bit different. My mom used to say, “If you have a problem that is not a money problem, you have a problem! In the above teaching, Jesus was addressing the peoples’ concerns regarding everyday life. In the account of Lazarus, there was a need that no amount of human resources could meet. They needed something outside of mans’ ability. That is what my mom meant when she made that statement. Mary and Martha needed a miracle in their situation, so they sent word to Jesus. But Jesus was silent.
The first point I would like to make in regard to this passage is just because God is silent does not mean he is unaware. God is aware of everything we face in life. He is aware of every need we have whether that need be physical, financial, emotional, mental, or spiritual. God may seem silent, but he is not unaware. In the same way that Jesus received the word sent by Mary and Martha, our heavenly Father hears our prayers and requests.
Second, God knows the big picture. Because we are human and live in a physical world, natural occurrences often overwhelm us. In the natural, Lazarus was dying. That was a fact. Consequently, Mary and Martha were overcome with worry and grief. They were preoccupied with Lazarus’ sickness and impending death. But Jesus was focused on the resurrection. While Mary and Martha saw only a part, Jesus knew the whole picture. It was his divine purpose to reveal God’s power. While it may not make it easier, we can trust in the fact that God knows the outcome.
Third, in v. 5 it says, “Jesus loved Mary, Lazarus and Martha. We all face hard times at one point or another in our lives. But neither the intensity of our struggles, nor the silence that we can experience in our prayers are an indicator of the measure of God’s love for us. Even when Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus about the dire state of Lazarus’ condition, his health continued to deteriorate. They were praying in a sense, but their circumstance only appeared to get worse. Yet, amid all they were going through, Jesus was not only aware of what they were facing, he was loving them.
The final point is, with God all things are possible. What Martha and Mary saw as permanent, God fully intended to change. Some of us have placed a period where God is not done writing our story. In their situation, God had a greater purpose. There is nothing in this physical world, no matter how permanent it may seem, that God cannot change. No circumstance is beyond his ability to alter or influence. There is absolutely nothing God cannot do. God’s power and ability is neither hampered nor hindered by any position in which we find ourselves. And sometimes what seems like the end is really the beginning. Someone once said, “Mans’ impossibility is God’s opportunity.”
As human beings, we all respond differently to crisis, pain, and sorrow. Both Mary and Martha were disappointed by Jesus’ actions. They did not understand why he failed to come when they sent word, when in their estimation, it could have made a difference. In the same way, oftentimes we do not understand why God, who loves us, would allow certain events to transpire in our lives. But even in this, God is asking to trust and obey. Martha and Mary responded differently, Martha heard (Jesus was coming) and went. Mary was told Jesus was calling for her, and she responded. Even though both women were in pain and failed to understand God’s greater purpose, each ultimately trusted Jesus and submitted to his word.
In the end, the power of God not only touched a family but a nation and a region. Those who were present knew for certain, that there is nothing God cannot do. There is not a situation or circumstance in which he cannot intervene. Mary and Martha prayed. Jesus did not respond. Their brother died. Jesus arrived four days later and raised him from the dead. Lazarus was alive and healed. God was glorified. God had a bigger plan in their circumstance, a plan they did not understand. Similarly, there are times in our lives when we may be pressing hard after God, when we find ourselves in great need of a miracle. Whatever you are facing today, whatever you have been seeking God about, remember: just because God is silent does not mean he is unaware.
Recommended reading for this week: John 11:1-42
Have a blessed week.