Stay Close to Jesus. You May Share in a Miracle.
John 11: 38 – 46
“So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”
Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”
When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
The compassionate Jesus was deeply moved within. He asked those standing around to remove the stone. Martha objected to the smell of death, which would surely be present.
Jesus reminded her and those standing around:
“Did I not say to you…. remember what I said
If you believe…. you will see the glory of God.”
What was the glory of God going to be? Life out of death?
Yes, but it was more. He wanted them to believe that the Lord sent Him. He wanted them to know Him. He wanted to be glorified.
Verse 4 suggests to me that more important than healing, then resurrection, is that Christ be glorified. And He can be glorified in all things: life, death, sickness and health.
And then He cried with a loud voice. “Lazarus, Come forth.”
(Was it so Lazarus could hear? Or all the mourners who were standing around? ) It was for those standing around.
Jesus planned to use this event for God’s glory. That meant he needed to come late enough so as not to heal Lazarus but resurrect him: a greater miracle. Many would then see the glory of God, which is found in the face of Jesus.
Where can we enter this story?
Has someone been sick and you prayed for healing and it hasn’t happened yet?
What if the Lord has a purpose that is different than ours?
What if He wants the Lord Jesus glorified in life, in death, in sickness and in health. That changes our prayer life and our attitude toward suffering.
I was listening to a tape from the Wounded Heart Seminar this week and was stunned to hear Dan Allender say that there is a higher goal than healing when ministering to the wounded. It would be great to be healed, but to allow the Lord to redeem the pain, the struggle, to make something good out of it would bring glory to Jesus.
The people of God were gathered together in this account to mourn with Martha and Mary, to weep over the loss of their dear friend Lazarus.
There is great value in “hanging around” where the people of God are gathered. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were best friends with Jesus.
Why would He allow this to happen; an early death? Jesus came to mourn. He wept. There were mixed opinions: look how He loved him…and why didn’t He heal him? (Or is He really who He says He is, is He good) What crowd would you be agreeing with?
And when He said…remove the stone. Would you want to be a part of such a foolish venture? Yet, some of the people who were standing around did go right up and rolled the stone. What would you be thinking when He said…Lazarus, cometh forth?
He came forth bound hand and foot and face wrapped around with a cloth. He was wrapped round and round with four day old stinky embalming wraps. And Jesus said…Unbind him, and let him go.
What are you thinking now?
I am going to be sick
What a mess!
If He says so, I’ll do it
Just let me say that those who hung around the grave, the mourning, the stench of death, got in on a miracle.
Jesus chose not to roll the stone away with His mighty power, or just zap off the grave clothes or unroll them himself. He allowed others to do what they could do and He did what only He could do. Jesus brought forth life.
What stories they could have had to tell when they went home:
“As I was walking around Lazarus, losing his grave cloths, I found there were others helping. When we took the napkin off his face, we saw life. He smiled at us, thanked us for setting him free. We will never forget him and he said he would never forget us, but we knew that it was Jesus who gave him life and we moved back as soon as possible so he could see the face of Jesus. It was worth the mess we got into with the rags and smell of death. Those of us who helped stayed around to talk about it together. I made some new friends that day.”
Think about it.
We know that some people, who come to small group ministry for the wounded feel dead, numb like Lazarus. They feel bound up; sick of the mess they are in and have no idea how to get free. But let me suggest that the purpose of our small groups is to come around you and touch the grave cloths and help set you free. They will rejoice in your face and your voice. They will point you to Jesus the One who planned along to bring help. Your mourning can be turned to dancing. The funeral turned into a celebration.
Who has helped you see the face of Jesus?
Who have you helped?
Have you joined others to roll away stones (that which keeps the light out)? You may be a rock roller. You may be a wrapping unroller, one who is hands on and takes the time to unwind the story that binds others.
The important question is however: Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God, sent by God, in Him is life. He is the resurrection and the life. His is the One whose face we need to see. He is the Glory of God!