Scripture: John 11:1-45
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were Jesus close friends. They sent Jesus the message that Lazarus was close to death. And they believed that Jesus could heal Lazarus. But Jesus delayed saying that the illness does not lead to death, but will glorify God. After two days - Jesus headed to Bethany.
When Jesus arrived, Lazarus was dead. He had been in the tomb for four days. Jesus hadn’t made there in time to stop Lazarus death. He had even missed the funeral. While speaking with Martha Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die will live.” Martha replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
So, they led Jesus and the crowds to the tomb. Jesus ordered them to remove the stone. Martha had just confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God protested, “Lord, surely there is a stink.” But Jesus strongly insisted to remove the stone. So, Jesus thanked God and cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus had been dead, came out and many people believed in him.
This story is about Jesus’ own death and resurrection. First of all - we are reminded that this Mary who sent the note was the one who would soon anoint Jesus for burial. When Jesus decided to go to Lazarus - the first response of the disciples was - that Jesus would be killed.
Thomas said, “Let us go with him so that we may all die.” Thomas seemed to convince that Jesus was about to be killed. Then there was the resurrection. The stone rolled away and the mention of the funeral cloth.
Verse 45 says that many believed in Jesus because of this miracle. But in verses 46-53, Jesus’ enemies plan his death. The power of darkness would try to stop Jesus from revealing God’s glory by killing him. And within a few weeks of this event - Jesus was on the cross.
Perhaps Lazarus would be a sign to the disciples. As they mourned the death of Jesus maybe Martha, Mary, and Lazarus would be mourning with them. They would remember how Jesus raised Lazarus from dead. They would remember Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Maybe this would give them some hope to prepare for Jesus’ resurrection.
This story is also about the death and resurrection of all believers. Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is the power of new life in the flesh. Jesus has the power to raise a man almost 2,000 years ago, has raised himself, also raise all who would believe in him.
It is significant that in the midst of his talk with Martha Jesus said - not only that he is the resurrection and the life, but that all who believe in him shall rise as well. If we truly believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, then we do believe that Jesus will raise us from the dead.
This story is about our deaths and resurrections. It is to believe that Jesus has the power to raise us from the dead. It is to believe that Jesus can do something about our lives in the here and now. Many Christians say they believe that Jesus will give them eternal life - but they act as if Jesus has no power to improve their lives right here and now.
They are like Martha saying, “Lord I know that Lazarus will rise on the last day,” not realizing that Jesus will raise him that day. If Jesus has the power to give us life after we are dead, then Jesus certainly has the power to give us life here and now.
Jesus said, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Jesus didn’t say “I will be” or “I’m going to ‘be.’” Jesus said, “I AM!” Jesus also said that he came so that we have abundant life. Jesus is right here right now has the power to raise us up. To lift us out of whatever emotional pit we are in; to call us out from whatever spiritual cave we are in, to roll away the stones of self-despair, and loose the grave clothes of self-shame.
Like Lazarus Jesus can call us out. All we need to do is believe. Like Martha and Mary just call on Jesus in faith. They called on Jesus and Jesus called them and their brother from death into life.
Jesus says, “I AM the resurrection and the life; those who believe in me even though they die will live. Do you believe this?” And with all our hearts we, Christians shout “Yes Lord, I believe! I believe you are the Son of the Living God. I believe you are the Messiah, and my Savior. I believe you rose from the dead. And we will all die and rise from the dead.”
Then Jesus says, “Roll the stone away.” And we protest, “Lord that stinks! I don’t want to bring all that up again. It’s too painful to look at. Just leave it buried and let me mourn in peace.” But Jesus reveal to us his glory says, “Christians, come out!” And suddenly the dead parts of us come to life. And by the glory of God we are alive again. Whatever it had been dead in us is made alive once more. Shalom and Amen.