When Lazarus became very sick, Mary and Martha did what any loving sisters would do, they sent word to Jesus. “Lord, the one you love is sick.” They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He could make him well.
There was no question He loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus, but when Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was for two more days. May I ask you a personal question? Have you ever been there? You have a need, you say a prayer, yet it seems like Jesus is tarrying a little longer than it seems necessary. It’s hard to imagine He has a plan, but HE…ALWAYS…DOES. Romans 8:28 is tough to live in the moment of crisis: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…” That means the good, the bad, and the stinky can be used for our good. Period.
Things went from bad to worse: Lazarus died. Then, finally, finally, Jesus headed their way. By the time He reached their village, the brother had been dead for four days. It was all over but the crying, it seemed.
When Martha heard Jesus had come, she rushed out to meet Him. I’m not sure if she had pre-thought what she would say, but the first thing she blurted out was, “Lord, if you had been here, he wouldn’t have died!” Tell us what you’re really thinking, Martha.
Martha was honest, one of her well-known traits. Before passing judgment though, have you ever been in those sandals? Blaming Jesus for not answering sooner or rushing in to save the day before it was beyond saving?
She told Jesus she knew even then that God would give Him whatever He asked. She also said that she believed He was the Son of God, but what did Martha expect, truly expect from Jesus that day?
She went to fetch her sister. When Mary got to Jesus, it was a repeat of the previous scene. The first thing out of her mouth was, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
All hope was lost. Lazarus was bound by grave clothes, had been for days. The mourners were assembled and wailing in full force. Jesus had come, but it was too late. So sad.
But it really wasn’t over. Jesus had come! Nothing is too hard for Him! No storm is too dark, no river too wide, no mountain too high!
We studied this lesson last week at the jail. I couldn’t wait! We picked apart the true story in John 11 and applied it to our lives. We’ve all been Lazarus. First, we are dead in our sins. We need a Savior! Next, we can be as bound by addictions, problems, or relationships as Lazarus was by his grave clothes. We need Jesus to do His work, freeing us from what binds us!
After digging into the Scripture, I gave the girls a picture of a mummy in a tomb with Jesus standing outside. Under the mummy, we wrote our own name. Then, we listed everything drugs have to offer. (Realistically speaking, almost everyone there is charged with something connected to drugs.) Some of the answers were: death, hopelessness, guilt jail time, sickness, loss of family. Unfortunately, they knew that from experience. Under the pic of Jesus, we listed all He has to offer: hope, a future, joy, a different life, heaven when we die…all good answers. Life with Jesus seems like it would be so much better and even easier than the hard times they have already been through!
We ended with Lauren Daigle’s Still Rolling Stones. It was perfect!
I get tickled at Martha toward the end of the story. She wanted Jesus to do something, yet when He told them to roll the stone from the grave, she tried to boss Him. Been there, done that. In the NIV, it translates, “But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor. He has been there four days.” In the KJV, it’s “He stinketh!” (As if Jesus wouldn’t know that.)
Praise God that He is still bringing the dead to life! And He’s not afraid when we stink! Jesus told the disciples before they got to Bethany that God would use Lazarus’ story to bring glory to God’s Son. And He did!
“He works all things for our good…” “He works all things for our good…” Remember and repeat as needed.
Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at email@example.com.