In this chapter we are given the key figure of Lazarus, who was the brother of Mary and Martha, and quite evidently, Jesus’ friend. Most of us know how this story goes; Lazarus falls ill and enters his final days (oh man is he in for a surprise), then everybody starts to panic, mourn, and plead Jesus to heal him. Jesus kindly responds that it will all be for the glory of God. I love particularly in verse 11 when the disciples think that Jesus is talking a simple rest after working a full-time shift with a man cold, but in fact He was talking about Lazarus’ death (gets me all the time). Jesus gathers the rest of the crew and heads back to where Lazarus is. Thomas’ spotlight verse in this chapter has me a bit confused; he says to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him”, the NIV has it written as such making it difficult to understand whether he’s talking about dying with Lazarus for the glory of God, or dying with Jesus to share in His suffering….either way, Kingdom-mindedness can be collected from this verse.
Jesus and disciples finally enter the village gate where Martha is awaiting them; she notifies Jesus on Lazarus’ condition and then gets told that her brother will indeed rise again. Jesus elaborates on eternal life upon his acceptance into people’s hearts and how death will not separate them apart; Martha had some good theology on her shoulders and answered, “I know he will rise again at the resurrection in the last day.” It’s good to know that people had sound doctrine on salvation to follow; I mean, directly from Christ, how better can it get? Jokes aside, after Jesus’ little session and Martha giving a couple A+ answers, Martha proceeds to go back home (distance Is not mentioned so it could be irrelevant) and notifies her sister Mary (the ex-prostitute who poured oil and fragrance on Jesus feet while begging for freedom) about Jesus’ arrival to town. Initially, Mary didn’t want to face Jesus at first but then dashes out to cry to Jesus. Martha and Mary (both being the sisters of Lazarus) complained if Jesus was around before Lazarus died, then maybe he’d be alive and well.
So far what we can gather is that everything has to bring glory to God, especially if Jesus is committing an act, it must first and foremost have the purpose of glorifying the King. Now the tricky part is that Jesus is technically still fully human with the capacity of being affected by different emotions; and for this situation, he becomes really sad and “troubled in spirit” to the point where He actually weeps (and entire verse dedicated to those two words so it must be a really important verse). Jesus really loves us, and a physical death of a loved one makes him weep. Imagine us losing our spiritual lives; that must grieve God immensely.
People then start to question Jesus’ power and “deeply moves Him” with their comments; in one way, I think Jesus was a little frustrated because He has the power to actually bring Lazarus back from the dead any time He so desired, but He had to make sure that it was something that brought glory rather than satisfy His own sadness. Thankfully enough, Martha was there and Jesus reassured her that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. (We can assume that Martha is still thinking about the last day, rather than the possibility of having an instantaneous resurrection happen featuring her brother Lazarus.
I think there were some specific requirements that had to be met for the resurrection to go through; later on in the passage at verse 41 and 42, Jesus THANKS God for ANSWERING His PRAYER. Clearly, Jesus had to make sure that this resurrection would be a fruit to the Kingdom and the church as a larger body. This concept actually applies to every spiritual gift out there; it’s not a superpower that we freely use as we wish, but it’s a power given from God for a special purpose with special timing. Finally, we see Lazarus successfully exiting the Tomb and alive and everyone is happy.
Altogether, everything we do serves a larger cause, everything we do will have lasting effects that could influence the spiritual atmosphere for generations to come. We also know that Jesus really loves us and that sin hurts him quite severely. Jesus’ lesson to Martha speaks to us as well; in a world where uncertainty is the ruling fear, we need to exercise wisdom, prayer, and know that by believing in Christ and his faithfulness, everything will be alright and you’ll be part of a life that never ends. Pretty much, if you believe, the best of best will happen to you (chilling with Jesus forever); regardless of whether some prayers got answered or not. We need to understand that everything under the sun is temporary and ultimately finds its best place in the presence of God; yes, Jesus was really moved by Lazarus’ death, but his resurrection was ultimately for the Kingdom and not for Himself, Lazarus, or his family. Jesus also shows that we can humbly converse with God to change certain outcomes in life (this is done through prayer), so let’s build a culture that prays in the midst of difficulty but also rejoices in the knowledge that their Savior is with them.
Lord, I pray that we come to realize at least a small fraction of how good You are and that our lives are way beyond ourselves. Lord let us come to terms with our purpose in life, this is a tough topic for some, but I pray that You speak into our hearts and foster an environment where we can rejoice regardless of what You have us doing as it will be for the sake of the Kingdom. Let this also be extended to our joy, sorrow, and all of our ups and downs in life. Give us the courage to surrender all to You and to trust You in the years to come. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.