THERE IS A PURPOSE
I find the story of Lazarus, as depicted in John 11, to be a story laden with so many messages. If I decided to touch on every one of them that I found, I’d be writing a book, as opposed to a message. So, to keep in line with the theme of the season that we are in; the last two weeks of Lent, that lead right up to the commemoration of the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection; I am forced to stick with one.
I believe that there is an important message that was being shared with the Jews on that day, and with us today in the story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection; especially as it compares to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” John 11:3
The message could have simply come as “Lord, Lazarus is sick”. But it was important that not only a distinction be made, but that all be made aware of that distinction. It needed to be revealed that Lazarus was special to Jesus. He was “loved”. There was a relationship that was separate from the teacher-follower relationship.
“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.”
Again, the reference to the “love” that Jesus had for the members of this family was to indicate why he should have dropped everything and hurried to their aid as soon as He received their message.
The specification of that relationship was to serve another important purpose also. It was to create a sense of urgency; immediacy to Jesus. The ones who sent the message were sure that Jesus would come to heal anyone that was sick and sought His help, but they also believed that when Jesus heard “who” was sick, that would make it even more urgent.
But not only did Jesus not hurry to go and heal Lazarus, He confidently assured the people whom He was with that Lazarus would surely not die. In addition, He stayed where He was for 2 more days! before embarking on the journey to Bethany. Then, prior to heading out, He confirmed to His disciples that Lazarus was indeed dead.
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, He was greeted by the chaos and weeping of the family and friends of Lazarus (who had, at this time, been buried for 4 days).
In verse 21, Martha said “if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”
Similarly, verse 32 tell us “Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Yet, in verse 15, Jesus had already said “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there”.
We know from Scripture that Jesus spoke in parables a lot. We also know from Scripture that a lot of what Jesus said to His disciples did not become clear to them until after He had resurrected and ascended into heaven.
So for all the answers that Jesus gave to the disciples, His followers and those He loved, and for all the symbolism that the resurrection of Lazarus would give in relation to what He had and would reveal to them about His impending death and resurrection, the miracle of Lazarus was for the most part treated as a free standing miracle of Jesus.
But the story was so glaringly clear for anyone to whom it was revealed…
For all of the ability that Jesus had to save Lazarus, why would He let him die in the first place? Not just a man that He could have saved, but a man that He loved. A man with whom He had a personal relationship. A man who was his friend.
So why, the people asked, would He “let” Lazarus die?
The answer is, for the same reason that His Father in heaven, let Him, Jesus, die for us.
As stated earlier, Jesus said in verse 15 “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe”.
And why was it important that they believe?
“Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” John 11:40
And what was the manifestation of that glory of God?
“And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me”. John 11:42
That the people might see the Hand of God through Christ and through that come to believe that He was the Messiah, Lazarus, beloved of Christ, had to die. So in raising him from the dead, the believers might come to Christ.
That people might see the Hand of God through Christ, and through that come to accept Him as the only Way, Truth and Light, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had to die. So in God raising Him from the dead, we the believers, might, through Christ, have everlasting life.
Jesus didn’t even have to go to Bethany to heal Lazarus. He simply had to pronounce it from wherever He was and it would have been done. He also could have reached Bethany before Lazarus died and simply healed him of his sickness. But there was a purpose. Lazarus’ death had a purpose. But a lot of the people present there that day didn’t get it. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has a purpose, yet, a lot of people today still don’t get that either.
Listen to the words of Christ:
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26)
If your answer is “yes”, as you wind down the final days of Lent 2013, reflect on the ”purpose”of it all. Then, share that “purpose” with someone else, so that they too can come to understand; and in so doing, come to believe.
“ Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.
The handmaid at His feet.