About eight years ago, my family had to walk through some medical issues with me after a heart attack. To be honest I’ll tell you the devil tried to get me to believe I was going to die. He also tried to make me believe other things were going to die such as my vision for our future, our home and marriage, the vision for our church and ministry, and the dream and vision of me getting to enjoy playing with my grandchildren who hadn’t been born yet. It wasn’t as if I saw these things slowly withering away. It was as if the enemy of my soul tried to cause these dreams to die all at once. Through that process, and by fighting through those feelings, I’ve come to understand that occasionally God allows a dream to die so we can see His power greatly displayed.
In John 11, Jesus was traveling with his disciples when He received a message from His friends, Martha and Mary, that their brother, Lazarus, was sick. Though they didn’t say so directly, the implication from the women was that they wanted Jesus to come to Bethany and heal him. But Jesus stayed where He was. It took him four days to return to Bethany, and in the meantime His friend Lazarus died.
The sisters were upset that Jesus hadn’t healed their brother. Jesus understood their disappointment. But He was about to show them that death had no power over Him. He was about to show them He was the resurrection and the life. He was about to reveal that He was the enemy of death who alone could defeat it.
Jesus prayed, thanking God for hearing Him, and then commanded Lazarus to come out of the grave. To the surprise of the crowd, Lazarus shuffled out still tightly wrapped in his burial clothes. Jesus performed this great miracle but on His own timetable.
Mary and Martha’s urgency hadn’t stirred Him. His love for them had never changed. He alone could see the future and knew the perfect time and the perfect way to answer their prayers.
So, what does the story tell us about when unexpected trials come our way?
Like Mary and Martha, we can call on Jesus to heal those who are sick. But if Jesus doesn’t show up like we think He should, we can’t conclude that He doesn’t hear us, doesn’t care, or doesn’t love us. Nothing Lazarus’s sisters said or did changed Jesus’ timing. And the only thing Jesus asked of Mary and Martha is the only thing He asks of us. Their role and our role is the same – believe and be witnesses to the glory of God.
This is also what Jesus wanted for the crowd that day. He waited four days so that all the Jewish mourners who were gathered would know that Lazarus was truly dead. This wasn’t some kind of trick. Lazarus wasn’t napping. There was no spirit or soul circling his body, waiting to re-enter it. Lazarus was four days dead—stinkin’ dead.
Through the power given to Him by the Father, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The crowd was there to believe and witness God’s glory.
Jesus doesn’t raise everyone from the dead. But He does raise believers from the death of their sins to spend eternity in heaven with Him and God the Father. And sometimes, like the crowd gathered that day in Bethany, we are surprised when we see Jesus raise things we thought were already dead.
Jesus takes dead things and revives them. He is the life. He is the resurrection. And it is through our belief in Him that we will see the glory of God.
Jesus has the power to resurrect the things we’ve let die — our hope, our healing, our family, our mind, our finances and our body. And though He doesn’t promise to restore everything until we enter heaven, occasionally we get a glimpse of things we let die being revived. And in that moment, we see the glory of God.
It’s wonderful after eight years to see how beautiful our marriage is, how God is blessing our church and ministry, and we now have the two most beautiful granddaughters any grandparents could ever hope to have. To God be all the glory.
Have a Wonderful Day in Christ,
Family Worship Center