Tag Archives: four days

CONVINCED OR NOT CONVINCED?

CONVINCED OR NOT CONVINCED?

“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’

“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When He had said this, Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’

“The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'” John 11:38-44 NIV.

What a moment! What went through the minds of the two sisters, of the bystanders when Jesus ordered them to remove the stone? ‘No! It can’t be! Is He out of His mind? Is He really going to go in there? What is He going to do?’ As the heavy stone was moved, so the stench of death wafted from the mouth of the cave and they involuntarily stepped backwards.

Jesus was oblivious to the smell of putrefying flesh. He took a step forward and turned His face heavenwards. In a strong, confident voice He addressed His Father, ‘Abba, we’ve already talked and you have heard my request. Now I want all these people around me to know and believe that it is you who sent me.’ When did He speak to the Father? All the time, no doubt.

Then, without hesitation He addressed the corpse — in a loud voice that Lazarus would hear wherever he was — ‘Lazarus, out!’ The bystanders watched and waited, hardly daring to breathe. Was this just a big show? The seconds ticked by, then…out of the darkness a figure emerged, naked but for the strips of cloth around his hands, his feet and his face and probably encasing his body as well. He shuffled towards the entrance, unable to walk because of the linen ties around his feet.

Miraculously, the odour had dissipated. Lazarus was very much alive but still wearing the evidence of his departure encasing his body. Instead of the stink of decay, the fragrant spices of his sisters’ loving preparation for burial still clung to him, released by a fresh breeze which blew away the last vestiges of his untimely death.

Trying in vain to free himself of his encumbrances, Lazarus shuffled out of the tomb. The people stared at him, speechless with shock and disbelief. Only one person was with it enough to speak sense in the situation. I can imagine that Jesus was amused by the bizarre scene — dozens of people gawking like beached fish while a man tied up in burial cloths, hands and feet firmly immobilised, and unable to see where he was going, tried to get free of his bonds and speak to them!

‘For pity’s sake,’ I can imagine Jesus saying, ‘Untie the poor guy and let him go.’ With a jolt, someone would come to and take off the bandages from Lazarus’ feet and hands and untie the cloth around his face so that he could breathe freely again and see.

The Bible abruptly halts the story right there. John was not about telling a story. He was about providing convincing evidence that Jesus was the Son of God, sent by the Father to reveal His Father’s glory. What did the Jews think about that? Was this magnificent sign enough to tip the scales, the climax of the signs John had recorded to reveal the nature of the Father and convince his readers that Jesus was indeed God’s Son, perfectly reflecting Him in everything He did?

We have to read on to the conclusion that unfolded in the next few days to discover the depth of wickedness in the hearts of Jesus’ opponents that drove them, not to believe but to plan their murderous end to the story!

Acknowledgement

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

DEAD AND DISILLUSIONED

DEAD AND DISILLUSIONED

“On His arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed at home.

“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?'” John 11:18-26 NIV. 

Two worlds! Two perspectives! Two sisters; Martha and Mary – disappointed, disillusioned, devastated! Were they more distraught about Jesus’ failure to come when they needed Him than they were about the death of their brother? Like Job, the Lord whom they passionately loved and believed in was not there for them in their darkest hour.

When He did finally arrive it was too late. Did He miss the seriousness of Lazarus’ illness? Was this the one time in His life when He was out of touch with reality? His head in the clouds, had He misjudged the whole situation and fallen short of their trust?

Martha was quick to respond to His arrival. She had to let Him know how she felt about His behaviour. Her rebuke fell from her lips before she had time to think. She blurted out her disappointment, perhaps in the hopes that she might at least get an apology from Him. Does God ever have to apologise? Perhaps an explanation? Something beyond His control had delayed Him and He was ever so sorry that He could not come in time…

Another world! Another perspective! Jesus; the Son of God – fully aware of what was going on in the natural as well as the unseen world. His delay had been purposeful, fully under the Father’s control. There was something bigger in this situation than another healing to notch up on His proverbial belt. This was a setup from God to give those nearest to Jesus – as well as His opponents – the biggest shakeup of their lives.

Of course, He knew exactly what was happening! This was no error in timing or in judgement. Everything was perfectly on course, including Lazarus’ death and what was to follow. He had to wait until the spirit of the dead man, whom the Jews believed remained in the vicinity for four days before leaving, had finally departed for the other realm.

His response was not an apology or an explanation, as Martha possibly expected. Instead, Jesus spoke some of the profoundest and most riveting – and comforting – words He had ever uttered. At first Martha misunderstood His reassurance, ‘Your brother will rise again.’

We do not know what Jesus had taught this little family during the times He spent in their home. No doubt, from Martha’s response, He had fleshed out with them the hope of resurrection which was not much more than a vague idea in the Old Testament writings. Martha had the comfort of knowing that there was a life to come, but that did little to ease the ache of her loss. She needed something more substantial to fill the terrible void left by her brother’s death.

Jesus’ beautiful plan was much more imminent than that. He was there – Jehovah Shamma; Immanuel – God in the flesh, and wherever He was, He reversed everything the curse had brought to mankind. He was the Lamb of God, slain from before the foundation of the world. In Him was life and the power to restore life, both physical and spiritual. What He needed was a response of trust from the two sisters who were the link between Jesus and their brother.

He was not out of options. Did Martha believe that? Did she realise that everything He did was purposeful? No, He had not misjudged anything. He was about to reveal, through the death of their brother, everything that He was – the Son of God who had overcome the enemy’s most vicious weapon – death! Lazarus would live again – for now; the day was coming that they would all live again – forever; Lazarus, their brother would be the incontrovertible sign that not even the Jews could deny.

“I AM the resurrection and the life,” He declared. Now was the time to put flesh on His words.

Acknowledgement

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.