During this season of Lent, I want to invite us to continue to spend time in those Scriptures which require us to spend time in the valleys of our lives. For me, one of these passages is the story of Lazarus’ resurrection. Like the story of the Good Samaritan, we want to rush to that moment when Jesus calls Lazarus from death into life.
In the span of 44 verses, we learn that Lazarus is ill. Jesus does not go to see his friend immediately. Jesus stayed where he was for two more days, knowing what would happen with Lazarus, as those with him did not. Jesus and the disciples then went to Judea, before returning to Bethany to be with Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus.
When Jesus arrived, there were already many people there who were comforting Martha and Mary, for Lazarus had already died. The author of John doesn’t tell us anything about Lazarus. We don’t know how old he was when he died, or what caused his death. We never learn if Lazarus was a leader or servant in his community or the work he did to support his family.
Martha went to meet Jesus when she heard that he had arrived in Bethany. In her grief, her first words to Jesus were still a declaration of her faith. John 11:21 and 32 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” A few verses later, Mary tells Jesus the same thing. When Jesus saw Mary, Martha, and the others weeping, he also wept. A very real and human response to how we grieve when we lose someone we love. Knowing what Jesus was about to do, He still wept for the loss of His friend. The passage concludes with John 11: 43 Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Sorrow is a part of our lives. I have never believed it is something we are to get over or get through. I miss my parents and my sisters as much today as the day God called each of them home. I wish I had one more meal or another conversation with friends who I thought would be here one more year, one more week, or even one more day.
And sometimes I feel that way about Jesus. If only our Savior had more than three years to spread the Good News. There is no precise record of how many lives he restored during His mission and ministry, but if our Lord had more time, I wonder how many more lives he could’ve touched as he journeyed through Israel and Galilee.
Like Lazarus, I know that Jesus did not remain in the tomb. Still, for each of us, there is a time of sadness and grief because he suffered and died so that we would be forgiven. This is the valley journey we are experiencing now.
Jesus died so that you and I might have life everlasting. There is both sorrow and joy in this very special and loving gift. Our world was transformed and is still transforming because Jesus came to walk among us. In those three years, our Savior planted the seeds of our faith which are still growing and changing us to become more like the one who created and loves us. May we be blessed as we walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior. And Amen.