Three Thoughts from the Lazarus Story

Recently I have been meditating very slowly on the story of Jesus and Lazarus in John 11. Numerous thoughts and insights come to mind, but I want to highlight three for now.

First, Jesus isn’t concerned about a day. 

After Lazarus died, Martha and Jesus engage in a conversation. Martha gives Jesus right theology. She trusts that Lazarus will rise again at the resurrection. She even demonstrates her belief that he will rise on the last day (v. 24). Great. Wonderful. Love it. Let’s write a song about it. But Jesus isn’t satisfied with this. He responds by saying, “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). Translation: “Stop looking for a day! Look to Me!” She was thinking correctly. There will be a day when the dead in Christ will rise. But Jesus didn’t want her focus to be away from Who was in her very presence. Be careful today not to take your eyes off the One who IS the resurrection. Don’t be so concerned about an issue or a day coming that you miss the One ruling it all.

 

Second, Lazarus didn’t get a book deal about the afterlife. 

Go ahead. Read John 11 and 12. Read the rest of the book of John. Nowhere do you find anything about Lazarus’s experience during the four days he was dead. No. Where. Can you imagine the missed opportunities? He could have made millions! John gives zero attention to it. Now, I am almost positive – without question – Lazarus was asked by people what it was like on the other side. That had to have been a topic floating around the dinner table. However, it was not important enough for John to talk about it in his Gospel. In John’s mind (who, by the way, I believe was led and directed by the Spirit), what transpires after death is not worth including. His focus isn’t on the post-death experience. His focus, rather, is on the One everything is about: Jesus. Again, I cannot stress this enough – do not get sidetracked from the main thing. It is all about Jesus and our faith response(s) to Him!

 

Third, Jesus came to be with.

Jesus patiently walks with a bunch of confused and frustrated disciples (see verses 4-16). Jesus patiently helps Martha understand about resurrection (see verses 21-27). Jesus is deeply moved and troubled in His spirit when he sees others grieving (see verse 33). And Jesus Himself weeps with those who are weeping for Lazarus (see verse 35). What does this tell us? It affirms for us what we all so long to be true: that Jesus is for us and with us. He doesn’t condemn or ridicule. He doesn’t tell us to stop crying and get over it. He is not a God that doesn’t have a heart and emotions and feelings. He is not a God that stands away at an arm’s length. Nope. He is with us.

I am not sure what you most need today, but don’t let the day happen without remembering Jesus Himself is the main thing and what everything is about. And, this very Jesus – He Himself – is for you and with you.

Amen.