How many times have we struggled with this? “Lord, don’t you see that the one you love is dying of cancer?” “Lord, don’t you see that the one you love is being abused?” “Lord, don’t you see that the one you love is heartbroken?” And, we address Him thinking that because we don’t see Him acting on their behalf that He has somehow lost sight of them. He hasn’t. His sight is greater.
We are told that Jesus waited two days after hearing that statement to go the one He loved. Lazarus. When he finally got there; he was dead. In the grave four days. And we are told that Jesus was so filled with compassion that He wept – heartfelt emotion about the death of one that He loved. And like Mary and Martha, we say, “Why?” As we sit in funeral homes and pick out caskets, or sing a tribute of love to the one that was taken too soon, or we look at the grave stone, we wonder how could you let this happen?
Very rarely do I take a verse out of the Bible and smother it with imaginative juices. But, today as I was reading, purpose hit my heart. Greater purpose. Lazarus resurrection was a precursor to the ultimate victory over death! Four days he had been dead, rotting had begun, the stench was expected, and yet, Jesus had to show them something big! He had to get the wheels in their brains working. I imagine that Jesus had a conversation with the Father over this:
“Okay, so I’m gonna get there, and He’s gonna be dead.”
“So I’m gonna go up to grave call him out, and they’ll believe?”
“Some of them.”
“But it will set the stage, right? Put in their hearts the thought for the next time they see an empty grave?”
“Okay, let’s do it!”
So, he got to Jerusalem, the place where they would sentence Him to death a short while later, and we are told that He was deeply troubled, another translation is “moved with intention and regard.” There’s that foreshadowing of purpose. Martha was the first to approach him in her perfectionistic expectations, she demanded, “Why didn’t you come sooner?” He doesn’t answer her. She’ll soon find out. Even Mary, with her selfless love for an amazing savior that so overwhelmed her that she washed his feet with her hair, Mary, a woman of ill repute that had given herself over and over only to find true love in the eyes of her Lord, came to him with doubt. “It’s been too long. He’ll stink.”
Jesus took it all in and wept. Feeling the emotion, the heartbreak, the desperation, but more than that, looking around Him and realizing the magnitude of this next move, I imagine His tears were shed not for His beloved friend as much for His beloved children, gathered around Him, doubting His love. He stepped forward and declared, “Take away the stone.” I’m sure they looked at him in disbelief. Did He really say what they thought He said? But with the authority His voice commanded, they did as they were told. Then with the power of heaven and earth in His tongue, He released the hold of death as He spoke the words, “Lazurus, come forth!”
The people waited, noses clenched, eyes scared to look. Then they saw him, still wrapped in sheets and blind from the covering, the first walking mummy! The weaker bloods, like myself, might have fainted! Then Jesus said some of the most precious words to me, “UNBIND HIM!” I like to think that He said it as He reached for that one piece of material that covered Lazurus’ eyes. I like to think that as He pulled it away, His eyes twinkled and His heart pounded to see the friend He so purposefully loved! (That’s some of those imaginative juices again.) I like to think it though. But, I believe that moment, that day, that miracle set the people’s minds on greater possibilities, and a short time later when they heard the news of another stone that was rolled away, they would believe the impossible and spread the Truth of a living Savior!
Lazarus’ story is so much more than a man coming back to life. It’s the beginning of believing in a God that put an end to death, completely! “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Yes. He knew. He knows now. He knows the suffering, the agony, the heartache. He sees and knows it all. But, to Him it’s more than a story about a loved one being healed temporarily or coming back to life or reversing time. It’s about a love that sees you through all of that and offers life, eternal. Make no mistake, He weeps. He sees what you’re going through and feels it, too. But, He knows the hope of the future when you can’t see past today. He knows the joy that comes after a season of mourning. He knows the thrill of the sight when He declares, “UNBIND HIM!” You gotta trust in that. I gotta trust in that. Even when we can’t see.