This Easter I’ve been studying and preached my Easter message on the raising of Lazarus. Here are a few little insights I’ve gleaned. I love how a closer examination of a very familiar passage can reveal new spiritual truths.
First, this story is full of deep emotions and coated with tears, grief, loss and longing. Just think of the last funeral visitation you attended, the lump in your throat, the uncomfortable silence, the tears and not-knowing-what-to-say feeling as you walk around the funeral home looking at photos of the deceased and greeting the family. Let the raw, real emotions of this story in. As you read this paragraph, also notice how many times John mentions Jesus’ own emotions.
32 Now when Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother [Lazarus] would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the people who had come with her weeping, he was intensely moved in spirit and greatly distressed. 34 He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They replied, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 Thus the people who had come to mourn said, “Look how much he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “This is the man who caused the blind man to see! Couldn’t he have done something to keep Lazarus from dying?” 38 Jesus, intensely moved again, came to the tomb. (Now it was a cave, and a stone was placed across it.)
You begin to wonder if John is familiar with all the millions of souls down through history who would entertain the lie that God is far away in our suffering, that he doesn’t really care, that he’s a stoic deity unmoved by human emotions. Let’s remember that John’s gospel emphasizes Jesus’ divinity more than the others, and yet here we see that God-in-Jesus is weeping at the death of his friend (v. 35). The people looking on also whisper to one another, “Look how much he loved him” (v. 36). Next time we are crying out to God at the foot of a casket and wanting to shake our fist in in the air, let’s remember we are addressing the God who “was intensely moved in spirit and greatly distressed” (v. 33).
But soon the tragedy turns into a triumph, and new life comes out of this death. But it’s interesting to note just how this all plays out. I noticed today for the first time how Jesus involves others in this miracle. He requires others to be active participants in this new life moment. Might this be significant in how God goes about intervening in our own lives and how he goes about bringing us out of our own spiritual tombs and into a new spiritual life? Check this out:
Continue reading Lazarus: Move the Stone, Come Out & Be Unwrapped