LAZARUS, DEAD MAN WALKING
It’s true. Lazarus was just dying to get into heaven, but he probably never realized his death would be a deadly reality when his years were so young. He was sick, to be sure. But dire enough to die? Apparently so. No, neither his sisters, Martha and Mary, nor he ever dreamt his death would be the card he was dealt so soon. And so, dear Lazarus, one of our LORD’S good friends, fell asleep one final time on his sickbed.
I can picture it all.
Martha and Mary must have been beside themselves with bereavement. How could God have let this happen? They must have wondered what were they going to do without their sweet and loving Lazarus? They’d sent for Jesus to heal their bro’, but Jesus had been a no-show. Now, Lazarus had been four days dead, lying in a tomb wrapped from heel to head, leaving a woeful wound on his sobbing sisters’ hearts. What would they do without their lost brother’s livelihood to live on? Who could they count on anymore for wise counsel and comfort? Worse, who would protect them from predators and from people of ill intent?
Their hearts must have been as broken as a kicked in door. Yes, their hearts were hanging off their hinges. Mary’s salty tears trailed to her moistened lips, and she kept licking them while rubbing her bleary eyes, so she could see. But her vision was still blurry, for tears do that. And Martha…well, she was bemused. She was broken. She was barely hanging on.
Then Jesus shows up.
Martha ran to Him and fell at His feet. “LORD, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:21,22).
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again” (v.23).
To which Martha replied: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (v.24).
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die. Do you believe this” (v.25,26).
She said to Him, “Yes, LORD. I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (v. 27).
Mary, however had remained in the house, her heart broken, on bended knees, still bawling. Then Martha told Mary Jesus had arrived, and she rushed to see the anointed One, fell at His feet, and cried, “LORD, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).
Then Jesus asked where they had laid him. They pointed to a cave covered by a stone.
Jesus wept is the smallest verse in the Bible, but it says so much about our loving Savior. It says Jesus loved Lazarus with all His heart. It says Jesus hates death for it defies all God’s original intent. It says Jesus was a real Man, with real feelings, who really loved His fellow man. It says our Savior was fully human, yet fully God at the same time. At that moment we get a glimpse of who God really is as Jesus groaned inwardly with great compassion and grief. How His heart must have hammered in His chest as He sobbed so bitter-sweetly. These poor people, He pondered. How death destroys everybody…how it pulverises everyone in its path, He thought.
“Take away the stone,” Jesus said (v. 39).
But the sisters protested, probably thinking by now Lazarus’ lifeless corpse would be a soiled mess of rotting stench.
Then Jesus said a prayer for the benefit of all. And then Christ commanded, “Lazarus, come forth” (v. 43)! And to the amazement of the mourners, Lazarus wobbled to his feet, wrapped from head to toe in his graveclothes to hobble to the entrance of the sepulchre, blind as a doorknob. Dazed. Dizzy. Disoriented.
And Jesus said, “Loose him and let him go” (v. 44).
And as they took off Lazarus’ head binding, I can picture him, squinting under the searing noonday sun, for he hadn’t seen light for four days. The sunshine felt warm. Wonderful. Wonder-filled. Then he saw Him—Jesus—the just One, the Son of God, his best Friend, standing there, arms opened as wide as the sky. Lazarus had maybe felt like he’d been sleeping…dreaming of endless summer days. Yet, here he was. Alive. Awake. Awestruck. And all because of Him…glorious, gracious, life-giving Him! The only One who could make life, which sometimes feels like a living hell, worth living for. And then I can imagine him running into the Savior’s waiting arms. The gasps of onlookers. The gaping stares. The gravel in peoples’ voices as they exclaimed, “Lazarus lives! He lives! This Man must be the Messiah, for who has ever brought the dead back to life?”
Oh, the glory of it all…
I am sure, Lazarus had never felt so loved in his short life. Not by anyone, including his two sisters, who simply adored him! And for all his days he would give God praise for giving him a brand-new lease on life. As for his sisters, Martha and Mary, they, too, probably couldn’t praise the Precious One enough. Couldn’t thank Him enough. Couldn’t marvel over Him enough. I mean, after all, Jesus had just brought their big brother back from the great beyond! And oh, how they would be forever grateful to this gracious God who took pity on two poor, broken-hearted sisters, whose bellies had been aching with anguish. I can almost hear their kisses raining down on Christ’s calloused feet. They must have been elated, and the butterflies in their bellies probably proved it!
And Lazarus…well, I can see him, laughing through the tears…tears streaming down his skinny face, a face that had been too ill to be fed. I can see, too, Jesus and Lazarus holding each other tighter than an elastic band. In fact, sweet Lazarus probably never wanted to release his best buddy and Savior! And Martha and Mary...my, how they must have cried, tears washing down their cheeks like waterfalls. Tears of giddiness. Tears of great joy. Tears of overwhelming gratitude. Boy, oh, boy!!!
After that, I can just picture them all, reclining at the table having some repast. Lazarus’ graveclothes were long gone; now he wore a gown. And to Lazarus, the wine must have been the most wonderful thing he had ever tasted. And dinner must have been simply divine, too! And best of all, his best buddy, Jesus, was here to share it with him. What more could a guy ask for? he may have marvelled. But wait! There was one more thing he could ask for. I can imagine him asking our LORD to hold his hand as they ate and made merry, as they broke bread together.
And I can picture Jesus doing just that.
So, you see, it does pay to have a Friend in high places…a Friend we, too, are just dying to meet face to face one day!
All Scriptural references taken from the NKJV Bible, 1985.