Lazarus Rises From the Dead- John 11:1-44
Updated: Feb 1
The chilly day was long and very busy that I didn't think too much of the terrible headache that emerged midday, but by evening I was extremely fatigued with chills. Through the night a fever raged through my body, but I was too weak to call Martha and Mary. By the time morning came, they had found me, and I could hardly speak. They both addressed my issue. Mary hardly left my side wrapping soaked apple cider vinegar cloths around my feet and across my forehead while Martha kept having me sip her herbal brews of tea and her bone broth. Thanking God for their care and prayers, I flitted in and out of sleep.
The days lost meaning and time seemed to blend all together. My sisters grew concerned and told me they had beckoned for Jesus. I was more asleep than awake which suited me fine since I was having a hard time breathing and being awake was painful. In the momentary episodes of consciousness, I could feel Mary at my side and see her head bowed begging God for his mercy through her tears. Martha, my kind, warm and generous older sister who is always wanting to be a strong support of encouragement for others and help solve problems was suffering greatly in being so helpless. For many years now since the loss of our parents, Martha's life has been caring for our family in all its mothering needs. She was at breaking point. When Mary was asleep and thought I too was not awake, she would just weep before the Lord for His mercy over me.
I have never felt so ill, and wondered if Jesus would come. I could feel my breath was too shallow, and in seeking to try to breathe deeply, my body would be wracked with coughing that left me worse off. Please, Jesus come please, I prayed to God. I can't leave my sisters; they need my provision and protection. God, are you seeing me and those you love? Wouldn't it be your will that I live to care for them? Why God? Why don't you allow me to heal?
I fell into something deeper than sleep. I felt embraced in love and peace -- rest.
I could hear distant noises. Like I was drugged, my senses were groggy and sleep was being pulled away. I felt my feet being gently loosened of its wraps, and thinking Mary is just still working at adjusting the wrapping cloths. I could hear Jesus' voice, "Lazarus Come Out!" It resounded in my thoughts. Oh, Jesus made it! I need to greet him. I opened my eyes, and the room is dark except for a stream of bright light from the door. I must get up, for he is waiting. The light is blinding as I walk toward it. Where am I? Why am I encumbered with wrappings...is Mary soaking me everywhere? My mind is trying to unwind the thoughts and grasp the moment as well as going to Jesus' beckoning. Shaking my head to allow my eyes to adjust, I blind walk in obedience towards the door.
OUT THE DOOR TO... OUTSIDE! Not fully comprehending what has occurred, my sisters run to my side and help take my arms and throw off grave wrappings around my head. Grave wrappings!! Jesus with tears glistening down his face and kindness filling his eyes, greets me with a hug. "Take off the grave clothes, and let him go." Crowds of people all around me fall on their knees looking up to God in worship and offer prayers of thanksgiving. My God was watching over me, but His timing was not my timing. His touch was not just a touch on my life, but all who were watching that day. His amazing grace and love moved into the hearts of all that beheld the miracle and then traveled on to all who were told.
Questions For Reflection:
Do you ever find yourself wondering if God is willing to help you? Do you ever question God's decisions? If so, is there any other Bible story or real story that can display examples of how God brought a great blessing from the mess.
Are you more like Mary or Martha? Martha feels responsible to stay strong for others, maybe to the extent that she does not allow others to know how deeply she is feeling the pain and troubledness.
Do you think that when you have to wait for prayers to be answered that you get bitter and angry or sad and depressed or patient and at rest?
When Mary and Martha knew that their brother was getting dangerously ill, they sent word to Jesus. Wisely, they sought his touch of healing and this too is good advice to us. Their message to Jesus was, "Lord, behold the one you love is sick." Jesus responded with, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." The disciples all thought that meant Lazarus would get well. But in two days time, Jesus states that they need to return to Judea which alarms the disciples since the Jews tried to stone Jesus in their last visit. Jesus explains that keeping the "light of the world" within you, will keep you from stumbling in dark moments of confusion which wasn't understood until after the resurrection. A good point for us to learn is that when we feel bewildered or forgotten by God during dark moments of our lives, that we won't stumble in our faith if we keep the "light" fanned into a flame in our hearts. "For this reason I remind you to fan into the flame the gift of God which is in you." (2 Timothy 1:6)
He explains that Lazarus is asleep and that he is going to wake him. They still question Jesus' actions on whether to go, and Jesus says plainly, "Our friend Lazarus is dead and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."
Jesus knows in just a couple of weeks that he will die himself and rise from the dead. Desiring that there is no question in his ability to defeat death, Jesus does this amazing miracle. He leaves solid evidence that even death is in his power when Lazarus is standing alive after four days of being in the tomb. This is clearly stated when the Pharisees plot to kill Lazarus to get rid of the evidence of the miracle. (John 12:9)
Lazarus never has any words stated in the Bible, yet he is a great first hand witness to God's work in someone. He is the evidence to God's work. Everyday there is the same evidence proclaiming God's miracle of a person raised from the dead "character or life style" and into life filled with light when they choose to invite Jesus as the savior to their soul. We should all be able to say, "I am not what I want to be yet, but I am certainly not what I used to be!" for God is constantly at work within us reflecting more of His light as we take time to be in the light. Like when Moses came down off the mountain glowing so bright they put a veil over Moses' head. He had spent time with God that caused him to glow. (Exodus 34:29-33)
Interesting moment caught in this event. Completely weakened by grief and unable to function, Mary is beckoned by her sister to go see Jesus outside the village as he requests. She quickly gathers herself and comes weeping to Jesus with many mourners following her. Scripture states that they were surprised that she suddenly moved so quickly. Our hope in Jesus should also energize us. Upon seeing Jesus, she falls to his feet in complete grief. With the sight of so many people in such deep pain, scripture states that he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. He wept. (shortest verse in the Bible). Here is deity and humanity crossing simultaneously. His deep compassion for their suffering stirred his soul even though He knew the glorious ending. In that moment, he felt sorrow for their deep sadness. Would that we all could be as sympathetic to those grieving- not that we carry the burden of sorrow, but that our hearts hurt when our loved ones are hurting so that we too can become compassionate to help raise the spirit of those suffering.
Like Mary who came to the feet of Jesus in praise and thanksgiving with perfume and also in times of grief and pain, we should take the time to fall at the feet of Jesus who loves us deeply and wishes to touch our lives.
Read the account as it is recorded in the Bible: