I've been working through a lot lately (obviously), and the passage about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead kept coming up. One of the reasons I like to blog is that it gives me an opportunity to organize my thoughts, even though I'm not a great writer. So I present to you....my thoughts. Anticlimactic, I'm sure. :-)
The Death of Lazarus (John 11)
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Wait a second. This scripture says that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus. So if He really loved them, why didn't he get up and leave immediately?! Instead of going to those He loved to save someone He loved, he stayed put. He sat on His rear end and didn't move for TWO DAYS.
7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” I Am the Resurrection and the Life
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.Four days. Lazarus, the one whom Jesus supposedly loves, has been dead for FOUR days. And Jesus is just now showing up.
18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[a] away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Ya think?! I can just imagine the heartache and questioning and anger that was probably in Martha's statement here and in her heart. You could have saved him, but you didn't come! If You have just been here! This story makes me angry for Martha.
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Jesus and Death, the Last Enemy
28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him.31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”
32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”I can feel her grief. She fell down at the feet of Jesus, and questioned just as her sister had. Just as I have questioned. Lord, you could have stopped this. You could have done something!
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
This part is interesting to me. When I read this, I couldn't understand what this passage meant, so I looked up what it meant for Jesus to "grown in the spirit." The definition of the original word "groaned" means to be moved with anger. Strong's Concordance goes further to say it means, "I snort (with the notion of coercion springing out of displeasure, anger, indignation, antagonism)". Jesus snorted in displeasure. He was ticked! What the heck, Lord? YOU were ticked? In my anger and hurt from losing our babies my initial reaction to learning this was the meaning of the passage was for me to snort in indignation at Jesus! WHAT? Mary and Martha should be the ones who are angry! You could have saved their brother and instead You sat there and let him die. You could have saved my babies, but You didn't.
34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”After the "groaning in the spirit" lesson, I hear Jesus ask this question in a different voice than I've read it before. He's not happy.
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept.
People sent me this verse when trying to console me in my initial pain. I read the story of Lazarus during that time, and was honestly irritated with this little verse. JESUS is weeping?? He's the one who got everybody in this stupid mess. If He had gotten up and healed Lazarus from the get go, there wouldn't be anything to cry about! Stop crying, Jesus. This is Your fault. But the more I read this passage, the more I started to question why He was weeping. Surely it's not because Lazarus died. He already knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Maybe He's weeping because this wasn't how it was supposed to be. Sin and death weren't supposed to be a part of this world. Weeping for loved ones wasn't part of the original plan. Or maybe He's weeping because of the lack of faith from those who loved Him most. Mary and Martha were some of His closest friends, and even they doubted Him. Could He have been weeping and upset because they didn't trust Him?
36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”More questioning Jesus' intention. More doubts. Lazarus Raised from the Dead
38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”This kind of makes me laugh a little now. I've always imagined Jesus saying this in a kind, gentle, knowing way. Now I hear Him saying it with irritation and passion. Move the stinking stone so I can show You who I am. Now!
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”I know Martha's kind of a mess, but I love her. She's my kinda mess. Better watch out for the stink, Lord.
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”I wonder how many times He's said this to me, and I've been too heartbroken, too angry, too consumed with my own grief (like Martha) to hear. 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
I've meditated over this scripture often in the last several weeks. I've questioned and wondered and searched for answers in this scripture. Just like Mary and Martha, I've asked God why He didn't do something. How could He allow this terrible thing to happen? Lord, if You'd only been here. I know You are able, but why aren't You willing?
And I wonder if maybe...just maybe...God withheld a miracle so He would have the opportunity to perform an even greater one. I wonder if His answer to, "Why Lord??" is truly for His glory to be made known...to perform the bigger miracle.
God allowed Mary and Martha to experience pain and heartache so they could experience an even greater miracle than they had asked for. I wish the Bible told us about Mary and Martha's reaction when Lazarus walked out of the tomb. Can you even imagine?? I have to believe there were screams and tears of joy. It brings tears to my eyes imagining the scene. And although Mary and Martha were surely happy beyond words, I'd bet they'd rather have not had to go through the pain He allowed them to feel in order to get to that moment. If Mary and Martha could have scripted it, I'd bet they'd skip the whole pain part of this story and just go the easy route and have Jesus heal their brother before He died. But their lives were to glorify Him, even through the pain. The joy at the end of the story may not wipe away their pain, but I take some solace in realizing that there was a purpose to their pain.
We have been praying for a miracle. All we want is a baby. And I've played the Mary and Martha card. I've questioned and cried and doubted and been flat out ticked off. And I think that's okay. I think God's big enough to handle all of that from me. But what's not okay is for me to stay stuck here, in this muck of doubt and anger.
So, what if God is holding out and allowing us to experience this terrible pain so that He will have the opportunity to perform the bigger miracle? What if He's still planning to perform a miracle in our lives? There's hope. That hope, mind you, doesn't erase the pain and heartache that I still feel. I still cry at the thought of my sweet baby girls. If I could have it my way, I'd skip this whole infertility battle and take a free-to-make baby any day of the week. I'd rather avoid the pain altogether and just go straight to the bundle of joy wrapped up in my arms. But if there's hope at the end of the story, if there's a miracle for my life, if the Lazarus in my life can also be raised from the dead....then I'll take it.