Purpose in the Darkness

When Lazarus was deathly ill, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus.  They waited.  And waited.  Where was their beloved Master?

Four days in a tomb brought more than a foul smell.  It brought more mourners ~ more potential.

“Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.”  (John 11:19-20)

Here was this kitchen-busy Martha, kicking her beautiful heart into action while Mary stayed home this time.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  (John 11:21-25)

Perhaps the question of the hour.

“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”  And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.”  When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.  (John 11:28-29)

Do we run to Him?

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  (John 11:32)

If only!  If only we trusted God’s timing, we’d correct a lot of regret!

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.  “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  Jesus wept.  (John 11:33-35)

This shortest verse in the Bible, but the longest debated:  Jesus wept.  How can He enter our joy if He doesn’t first enter our mourning?  He weeps with those who weep and rejoices with those who rejoice.

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.  “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  (John 11:38-40)

Believing is seeing.

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”  (John 11:41-42)

Christ’s voice rises above the crowd’s gut-wrenching cries, and echoes the tomb with death-defying vitality: “Lazarus, come out!!”

Hope awoke with Heaven’s breath.

Breathe on us, Father.  In the midst of despair, remind us who you are…  Resurrect our deadness of hope.  Help us throw off mistrust like tomb clothes.  May we come forth in power as Testimonies of your perfect timing.  As we rest in your bigger-picture purposes, turn our grief to praise.   For your Name’s Sake.  Amen.

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