“‘Take away the stone.’ He said, ‘But Lord,’ said Martha the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor for he has been dead four days.’”John 11:39 (NIV)
It was a family in crisis. Two sisters, Mary and Martha, had called for Jesus to heal their sick brother, Lazarus. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. Jesus was too late, or was He?
Mourners were gathered weeping and wailing with Mary and Martha. Luke tells us in verses 33 through 35,
“When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled. ‘Where have you put him?’ He asked them. They told Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept.” (NLT)
Jesus felt their pain, and He feels yours and mine as well. He was angry at what sin and death does. It devastates our lives and our families. It brings pain and sorrow. Luke tells us that Jesus wept. No other religion in the world shows a God who cries. Our God cares about the hurt and pain we feel. I don’t know all the reasons for His delays in my life, but I know that God cares.
In order for God to work a miracle, though, they had to take away the stone. Martha knew that removing the stone was risky! It could create a stench and be embarrassing. After all, her brother had been in the grave for four days! The problem was too great for Jesus, or was it?
In verse 40, Jesus says to Martha,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
Before going further, I wonder what situation in your life or family is so dysfunctional that you’ve decided to give up. Maybe it is a love that died. You try to cover it up and move on the best you can, yet your heart is broken. Exposing the hurt would be too painful and embarrassing. The whole thing stinks. That’s what sin does. Sin always stinks. It leads to disease and death. If that’s where you are, I encourage you to take heart. You may be in a better place than you imagine. Why? Because death is not the end! When we are willing to risk uncovering the problem, we get to see the glory of God!
“Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” John 11:43 (NLT)
Wow! The Bible says that Lazarus came out of the grave! Jesus is the only one who can bring resurrection because He is the resurrection and the life! This was His plan from the beginning – to put God’s glory on display! Only Christ can bring life into something that has died! Yet here is another interesting insight I find in verse 44.
“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.’”
It’s interesting to me that the very God who raised Jesus from the dead didn’t remove the grave clothes. He gave life to a dead man but expected those around him, his friends and family to help him remove the old grave clothes that smelled of his former death. This is the value and importance of a church family. We all need close connections around us that can lovingly remove the barriers that may be keeping us bound.
Do you have such a community of faith? Are you willing to risk being that vulnerable? We need one another. All of us are dysfunctional. When we come to the place where we are willing to admit our need and uncover the problem, we can experience the glory of God! He is a God of resurrection! He specializes in bringing dead things back to life! It is our destiny! Let Him revive your heart today.