Today’s Reading: John 11:1-54 (additional reading: Psalm 117:1-2 & Proverbs 15:22-23)
There’s a story about the only survivor of a shipwreck. He washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed to be coming. He eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after searching for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst has happened: everything was lost. He was stung with grief and anger: “God!!! How could you do this to me!” Early the next say he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” the weary man asked his rescuers. They replied, “We saw your smoke signal.” God may sometimes work in ways don’t understand– but he still works.
In John 11:1 we see: “A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha” (NLT). We are not told the cause of his sickness or how long he had been sick. Had it come on his suddenly? Had it been an extended illness which had become progressively worse? We don’t know, but we know he got sick and then he died.
To love someone and be unable to do anything to take away the pain is a horrible feeling! That’s what Mary and Martha were going through with their dear brother, Lazarus. What could they do? We read in the text that “the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, ‘Lord, the one you love is very sick’” (John 11:3 NLT). Jesus would come! He would fix everything! After all, look at the great things he has done: He had healed a Roman official’s son from miles away. He had healed a paralysed man at the pool of Bethesda; He had even given sight to a blind man! Surely, if he made it in time, Jesus would be able to heal poor, sick Lazarus.
Rather than immediately rushing to the scene, he stays where he is for two more days. Why didn’t he dash to Lazarus’s side? Why didn’t he immediately head toward Bethany? Did he not care? Was he just being lazy? Two days after he received the message Jesus finally decides to go to Bethany. But when he arrives– it’s too late– Lazarus is dead. Can you imagine Mary and Martha’s disappointment?
Yet it’s when and only when Martha puts her total trust in Jesus and obeys him that she sees the glory of God. It’s the same with us. Only when we give God our total trust and obedience will he really work in our lives. The okay is given by Martha and the stone is moved away from the entrance of the tomb. Then comes one of the most dramatic moments in the gospel of John: Jesus stands there in front of the tomb and shouts, “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus comes out!!!