Jesus and his disciples has escaped from Jerusalem and retreated “across the Jordan” – it looks like that would be on the east side. They were here when He got the news about his friend Lazarus being ill. You can tell Jesus knew exactly what was going on because His first comment was: “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
It’s the same sort of thing He had said about the blind man – “this situation is going to be a way to reveal God’s glory.” (I have an impossible situation before me right now and I need to believe God knows exactly what is going on. Lord, use this impossible situation to reveal your glory and help me rest in You.)
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister (Mary) and Lazarus…” This is the first thing to understand about Jesus, He loves us. While I struggle with all that happens in life, while I question and worry and despair at times – in order to hold fast to my Savior – Jesus loves me. It is this love that guides all His actions and directs His mercy and grace toward me. It is the first thing I must believe.
Josh preached on this story yesterday. He noticed how Jesus responded to each group of listeners with just the right words to meet their individual needs. As I look again I can see that He taught the disciples not to fear what man could do to you when you were on a mission to reveal God’s glory. He stretched Martha’s mind when He said “I am the resurrection and the life” – not someday or in the future but now, in this minute I AM. He comforted Mary, felt her grief and wept with her.
When Jesus asked to have the stone removed from Lazarus tomb, Martha cautioned him about the stench of a dead body, 4 days in a tomb. Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” Believing turns the stench of death into the sweet smelling aroma of God’s glory.
Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” Here it is – the purpose of God revealing his glory… “…that they may believe”. And after this prayer He calls “Lazarus, come out!” I’ve heard it said that if Jesus had not used Lazarus’ name that every dead person around would have come back to life…He was that powerful. Maybe…but what impresses me is He is that personal… “Unbind him, and let him go.” Jesus frees the world one person at a time.
And so the audience is split, because every person is faced with the choice to believe or not believe. “Many of the Jews believed in him…but some when to the Pharisees and told what Jesus had done.” Now I just wonder how that conversation went. They go before the Pharisees to discredit Jesus by telling what He had done – I mean He raised a man from the dead! This is their argument against Him?
With this startling evidence that man’s life is not limited to this world – there is a resurrection to embrace – the Pharisees choose staying dead in the tomb of a limited life that requires their own ingenuity to survive. I don’t know if this makes me sad or incredulous. None the less, Caiaphas makes a strategic decision – offering the Romans a sacrificial lamb… “one for many.” Oh man, little did he know.
This last line seems like a turning point. Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. Jesus is not retreating from His mission but He seems to be changing tactics. The story continues…
This is how God works…for my good and His glory.
Remember Jesus has it all under His control and His ways are rooted in His love for me.
About the World?
Jesus is freeing the world one person at a time.