We rejoin Jesus in Bethany at the tomb of Lazarus. We are to the exciting part today! God’s amazing power is about to be displayed for all to see.
Jesus had just asked to see the place where they buried Lazarus when we halted yesterday. We pick up again with Him standing before the tomb. John tells us Jesus was “deeply moved again” (verse 38). He cares about these people’s grief. He knows their heartache. But He also knows what lies ahead. It’s time to get to work and end His friend’s suffering.
Jesus makes the most absurd statement, or at least Martha thinks so. He says that He wants the stone rolled away from the tomb’s entrance. I imagine she is thinking something like this: Surely You don’t want to go in there to view his body! He has been dead long enough to start smelling. If You would have come earlier we could probably have managed to let You say Your good-byes in person. It’s too late for that now. She plainly tells him that she thinks it’s a bad idea. “Lord, by this time there will be an odor. For he has been dead for four days” (verse 39).
Jesus quietly reminds her of their earlier conversation. “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (verse 40). But He didn’t specify what that “glory” would look like. She is probably wondering what He could have in mind.
No need to argue, just do as He commands. They have learned that lesson quite well over the years so the stone is rolled away. With all eyes turned to Him, Jesus does something that He doesn’t do publicly very often; He prays publically.
When Jesus prays this time He does so with the intention of connecting the dots for those looking on. The very first thing He does is thank God for listening to Him. He never had any doubt that God didn’t hear His prayers, but He is doing it for the benefit of the others in attendance. He doesn’t even tell God in this prayer what He wants Him to do. He merely states that He know God is listening and ready to do whatever He asks.
I wish I had that kind of faith. I know God hears my prayers but I wonder which ones He is going to answer in the way I want. A lot of my reason is because I don’t know for certain which of my prayers line up with God’s will. Jesus didn’t have this problem. He knew God’s plan all along. So when He asked for something from the Father, He KNEW it would be done.
Jesus had been preparing those around Him for this moment from the time He said, let’s go wake up Lazarus. The excitement and anticipation has been building with each passing moment. I can almost feel the electricity of anticipation in the air! Whispers of “What do you think is going to happen” float throughout the crowd. Some are said in anticipation and some in skepticism. NO ONE expected what came next through.
“He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out” (verse 43-44a). I bet every eye in that place popped and every jaw dropped! Here comes Lazarus walking out of his tomb where those watching had placed him a couple days ago. His hands and feet are still bound up in the grave clothes and the cloth still covers his face. But there is NO doubt in anyone’s mind that this is indeed the very same man who they buried.
Everyone is frozen in surprise. Jesus had to tell them to untie Lazarus. I expect Mary and Martha were two of the first ones to rush to that task. Their mourning was turned into joy that day. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11). It was now time to celebrate!
The work that Jesus did that day was NEVER done before. This was another impossible to miss miracle. The man blind from birth receiving his sight and Lazarus’ resurrection were done specifically as a highly public display of Jesus’ connection to the Father. NO ONE could have done these works without God’s seal of approval. Jesus was drawing the line ever clearer for those who were willing to listen. Who would step across into belief and who would remain entrenched in their refusal to listen? We will answer that question tomorrow. Tonight we leave Mary, Martha and Lazarus reunited at the grave/resurrection site.
Father God, thank You that You do listen to our prayers. I wish I knew that my prayers all lined up with Your will and plan. I know I can trust You to work Your will out in my life. I’m sorry for all the times I try and bend Your will to suit my plans. Help me remember to let YOU lead the way.
Thank You Father for the joy, even in the times of pain. I imagine Mary and Martha were happy to see You but their pain precluded them from experiencing much of it. Thank You for freeing their hearts from mourning. I know that there are very few of us that get to experience that kind of miracle. Please don’t let me forget to say thank You for the little ones I get along the way though. Today’s financial gift was one of the blessings I should have thanked You for right away. I’m sorry I didn’t until now. Thank You for reminding me just now. You are so awesome!