Help for the helpless ∙
Lazarus, come forth. – John 11:43
1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha.
3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it, he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”
5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,
6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.
15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now, you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.
21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.
22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.
39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”
41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.
42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”
43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”
44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.
In 1959, Bernard Lown designed the modern-day monophasic defibrillator to treat patients in life-threatening situations when they have a regular heart beating or stop breathing. Modern medical TV shows and movies are replete with scenes of patients receiving shocks via paddles. People are brought back to life. What was initially seemingly miraculous is now routine. But it is only effective if applied within the first half-hour.
When we hear that our friends or family are sick and likely to die, most of us will get to them as quickly as possible. The Lord Jesus Christ had a great love and affection for Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Yet when He heard that Lazarus, his friend was sick, He lingered, He did not rush to his side. Why?
He intentionally delayed. He lingered two extra days. Something utterly spectacular and magnificent was afoot. This will not be a “run-of-the-mill standard, everyday healing.” Lazarus was no longer deathly ill, He was dead.
No one knew what would happen except the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, everyone knew, including Jesus’s enemies, that He had healed many people. If the greatest show on earth were performing miracles of healing, the Lord Jesus Christ would have been the top rock star of His day. So it was natural for people to assume that if He had arrived sooner, He could have also healed Lazarus. But this was not the Father’s purpose. The Lord Jesus Christ did not live His life to please people but to please the Father.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father’s great purposes and life lessons are often embedded in everyday struggles and events.
Father thank You that You are able to bring life where there is death and provide hope to the hopeless.
The name Lazarus essentially means “helpless.” It is a shortened form of the Hebrew name Eleazar which means “God is my help.” Dead people are helpless and hopeless. After a few days, there is nothing that mere humans can do to help them. But time or physical deterioration has never been an issue for the Father God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The sisters informed the Lord Jesus of the sickness of Lazarus. Their appeal is not based on Lazarus’ condition but on the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ loved him.
John 11:3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
The assumption was quite logical and straightforward. If you love somebody and they are terminally ill, you will do everything humanly possible to save their life. This is very natural and normal but has a limited horizontal point of view. This is merely a human, temporal perspective. The limitation is time itself.
They assumed that speed was of the essence. They expected Lord Jesus Christ to drop everything and rush to the deathbed of His terminally ill friend Lazarus.
The Father has a totally different point of view. He has a divine eternal perspective that is not limited by time. He knows everything that will happen before it occurs. The Father exists outside of time and created time. He is not limited by it.
Mourning for the dead was a central aspect of the Jewish culture then and now. Because Lazarus was a wealthy and religious man, all of the A-list people were there. Imagine what the scene must have looked like. Large crowds of influential and religious people were all gathered together. They had each decided to come and do the right thing, the expected thing. They joined in the mourning.
They knew the message had been sent to the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone was thinking, Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming. Indeed this miracle worker will heal His very best friend outside the disciples. But He did make it in time. Lazarus was dead. And everyone was weeping and mourning the loss. The heart of the Lord Jesus Christ was deeply sorrowed. He was caught up in the moment. He too was deeply moved and troubled.
John 11:33 When Jesus, therefore, saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled,
The Greek term translated as moved is embrimaoma. It originally meant the sound a horse made when it snorted or bellowed. The Lord Jesus was seized with such great and deep emotion that an intense, involuntary, heartfelt, very loud groan burst out.
John 11:35 Jesus wept.
The Lord Jesus was overcome by emotion. His grief was spontaneous, giving way to intense weeping. Williams’s translation reads: “Jesus burst into tears.”
Here is one of the most precious things in the gospel. So deeply did Jesus enter into men’s sorrows that His heart was wrung with anguish (Barclay).
But the story does not end there. It is reminiscent of the movie E.T. E.T. dies to save his friend Elliott. But E.T. had phoned home, and help was on the way. He was revived and brought back to vibrant health.
And so it was with Lazarus. The unlimited creative power of God reversed the process of death and corruption and brought his corpse back to life. The effect was startling.
The Lord Jesus Christ had only to approach the tomb and speak three words.
John 11:43 Lazarus, come forth.
Lazarus appeared at the entrance to the tomb, still bound by the graveclothes. The Lord Jesus Christ had done the impossible. It was the final miracle that Jesus performed in the gospel of John. It was intended to demonstrate, beyond any reasonable doubt, that He was the Messiah of Israel, the son of God, and the Resurrection and the Life.
The power of eternal life triumphed over death, corruption, and hopelessness.
John 11 is the zenith, the culmination of the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What had been a scene of death and sadness was now transformed into spontaneous joy and amazement. It was a major Public Relations event. The two-day delay, which seemed somewhat incredulous if not cruel, is now completely understandable once the whole story unfolds.
As a result, many of the unbelievers present believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 11:45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him.
The Father does not always answer our prayers in our timeframe according to our expectations. But indeed, He does answer them according to His eternal purpose.
The Father is never in a hurry, but He is always on time.
© Dr. H 2022