Today, we start a 3 part journey following the story of Lazarus’ death & resurrection. Why 3 parts? Well, the more I read & thought about it, the more I wrote, and I wouldn’t dare upload something that long. Also, while it’s one story, each segment kind of deals with something different. Are you ready? Oh you better believe I’m ready! Let’s go!
In John 11 (today, we’re breaking down verses 1-13), the story is told of the death & resurrection of Lazarus of Bethany. Laz (can we call him Laz?) has 2 sisters: Mary (not the virgin, Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet with oil) and Martha. Mary, Lazarus, & Martha are all reallllll cool with Jesus. They respect Him and all, but He’s still a really nice family friend, you know? Well, what better time to have a family friend like Jesus than when Lazarus gets sick. Really sick. Sick sick. So, Mary & Martha send a message to Jesus letting them know (psssst! Jesus! Lazarus is sick! We need you to come do something!). Jesus gets the message, says “Don’t worry. This won’t take him out. God will get the glory from this. Watch.”….and stays where He is for 2 whole days doing….something that’s not healing Lazarus. Once His two day extension is up, He goes to Judea (where He was almost stoned to death), announcing on the way that Lazarus is dead (He tried using pretty language, but the disciples thought Laz was just taking a nap & healing). Eventually, Jesus gets to where they live, the only issue is that by the time He gets there, our good friend Lazarus is dead. Not fresh dead. Four days dead. Dead dead.
I’ve realized that death & Christ(ianity) are closely related. Think about it, our flesh has to die. Christ died. To a certain degree, we’re ok with that. We’ve kind of romanticized the whole ‘killing of the flesh’ thing, so we can push through that. It’s for the glory of God. Christ died a brutal death, but we know how that story ends. It’s for the glory of God. Yet….sometimes…we fight so hard to breathe life into things in our life that God wants to kill. We fight to keep certain relationships, habits, or routines alive. We don’t necessary see it as that ol’ “evil flesh”, so we fight through (undercover) disobedience, selfishness, and pride to keep certain things alive. We fight death as if it’s not part of the process. As it was necessary then, it’s necessary now. Of course, I’m not talking about you (you’re not a fighter, right?); we’re just here to talk about Laz, Martha, & Mary. Back to them….(and us)….
There were quite a few moments in this story, and in this segment that caught my attention. First off, I want to get what I believe is the most important part of this entire segment into your beautiful brain: God will let the things that you love (and the things that He loves) die. (Did you get that?!) Let’s start with the fact that He didn’t make any type of haste. He…He loved them. He loved the whole household. Yet, John essentially says ‘He loved all of them. So (as if this is normal), He stayed where He was for 2 more days.’ Hmmmm….SIR (have you ever wanted to “SIR” Jesus?)…THAT’S NOT THE TYPICAL THING TO DO. I’d be ready to head out immediately (but…I’m not Jesus for a reason, so there’s that). I say this because so many times, when we see something is dying or fading away, we blame the devil, as if the devil can do anything without God’s permission. Has it ever crossed your mind that God is the culprit in your life? Have you ever thought about the fact that maybe…just maybe…the devil didn’t take whatever has died in your life…but God sat down & let it die? It has nothing to do with your prayer life, either. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad Christian, or that you’ve been forsaken. Mary and Martha prayed. They sent a message to Jesus. What did Jesus do? Stay where He was for 48 hours. Do you know what that’s like? To pray your hardest prayer…..and feel like God hasn’t moved an inch into your direction? Do you know what it’s like to beg for His power, His presence, His help…..and have your problem worsen? Or to have your deadline pass? What I’m trying to ask you is….has God ever let something die in your life?
I believe that Jesus’ response to whatever’s died in your life is the same today as it was back then. When He got Mary & Martha’s message, He said “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” The same is true for you. I dare you to insert your issue into that sentence. This (your issue) isn’t going to kill you. It’s for the glory of God, that the son of God may be glorified through it. It may look like the end. It may look bad…but it’s not the end. It won’t end badly. If we asked Paul, he’d say that all things work together for your good, and that the suffering of today can’t compare to the glory that’ll be revealed in your future. We get caught up and worry about the journey; God is focusing on the result. If something has died in your life, recognize that He may have let it die, but He only did so that it could produce glory in your life. Death produces glory. I repeat, death produces glory. Lazarus’ death produced glory. Jesus’ death produced glory. So I dare you to believe that the death of whatever you feel has died in your life will produce glory as well.
Something else that….completely confused me about this segment is the fact that Jesus’ response to Lazarus’ sickness was surrounded by reminders that He loved this family. Verse 3 mentions that He loved Lazarus. Verse 5 says that he loves Mary, Martha, & Lazarus. Why is this relevant? Well, one of the biggest reasons that I can think of is that it shows us that opposition, death, sickness, etc. can still come even if we’re cherished by God. The presence of sickness or death never really indicated a true absence from God. I know this because once we get a little deeper in the story, Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead before anybody told Him a thing. They couldn’t see Him, but He was fully aware of what was happening. We can’t see Him either, but just as He was fully aware of their situation, He’s fully aware of our situations.
I think we’ve all watched something die in our lives. I’ve watched relationships die. I’ve watched traditions die. I’ve watched certain routines die. I’ve watched certain types of thoughts die. I’ve watched opportunities die. One thing that they all had in common is the fact that they were necessary. He let it die. He let all of it die that I may be sitting in my promise (aka my living space) typing this blog post. For if those things, those opportunities, those relationships, etc. hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have the life that I live. If they hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have turned to God the way that I did. I wouldn’t know Him like I do. I wouldn’t know when He’s giving me something to give to you! I’ve been broken for the broken. God has used everything that I’ve watched die in my life to shift me from life (just life) to abundant life. So, as somebody who’s been there (in one way or another), pleeeasssee trust me when I say that death isn’t always the end of the story. Don’t believe me? (…or even if you do) Come back next Wednesday and see where else Lazarus’ death will take us next….
Background Music: Intentional - Travis Greene (because it never gets old)
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