Friday, April 27, 2012

John 11:38-45

I’m sure you all remember the singing Munchkins in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, who examine the body of the Wicked Witch of the West (on whom Dorothy’s house landed), and confirm, “She’s really most sincerely dead.” In today’s verses, Martha tells Jesus something similar about Lazarus. He’s not just dead - he’s REALLY dead:

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.     

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” (John 11:38-39)

In the King James Version, Martha’s words are, “he stinketh!” There is no doubt here that Lazarus was truly dead - and I think that’s probably why Jesus waited the extra days. He wanted to be sure that everyone clearly understood what was about to happen.

The King James version also describes Jesus’ emotions in stronger terms. Verse 38 says, “Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave.” We really can’t imagine what thoughts were going through Jesus’ head. He knew what He was going to do, so why was he groaning in himself? What deeply moved Him? Was it His love of this family and His understanding of the great emotional toll this had taken on Mary and Martha? Was it the lack of belief of those around Him? Was it just the thought of Lazarus having gone through that enemy, death? Was it mixed with the thoughts of what was waiting for Him in Jerusalem? We don’t know.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me. 

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. 

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” 

Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. (vs. 40-45)

Jesus allowed Lazarus to die, just so the people standing there would BELIEVE. This was His biggest miracle. Lazarus had been so dead that he “stinketh,” but there he was raised back to life - walking out of his own grave! We know that Lazarus would eventually die again, so this wasn’t just about answering the prayers of Mary and Martha. It was all for the glory of God. This is why God delights in answering our prayers - that we might give Him glory and so that many would believe because of our testimony.

What in your life is so “sincerely dead” that you cannot imagine a resurrection? Is it your marriage? Is it your attitude toward your job? Is it your finances? Is it a relationship with a family member that has died? Is it your hope that your wayward children will ever come back to the LORD? Even if it “stinketh,” Jesus can raise it from the dead. And He will, because He wants us all to believe! Mary and Martha knew He was able, which is why they sent for Him in the first place. What they were not convinced of, because of His delay, was His willingness. Aren’t you so very glad that we serve a God who is not only ABLE, but is also WILLING? Hallelujah!  

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