They sent word for Jesus that “the one you love is sick” (John 11:3). Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, he didn’t need Mary and Martha to send word. But I’m confident that when Jesus heard the message “the one you love is sick”, He smiled. He did indeed love him, and Jesus knew that He was Lazarus’ only hope. Perhaps it is here that we see the most perfect heavenly parallel in all of scripture. Perhaps. There are many of course. But this particular one is significant and crucial. Lazarus’ death takes place just before Jesus’ own. Being raised from the dead by Jesus is significant, but being the one being raised just days before Jesus himself is raised, makes it crucial.
I can picture those sisters in mourning. Death has a searing sting of finality that grieves the soul like nothing else. It’s unnatural. People say ridiculous things like “it’s just part of life”. What a bizarre attempt at explaining something that is unexplainable. We cannot wrap our minds around it, we cannot dig deep enough in our own conscientiousness to understand it, so we attempt to rationalize death with words. Such attempts are nothing more than evidence of our great need for another answer. Certainly Mary and Martha thought the same thing those days after Lazarus died. Many Jews had come to comfort them, but what could they say that would bring comfort? Can death be comforted from the mouths of human lips? Mary and Martha’s loved one was dead, buried in a tomb, and death is final. Who can comfort that?
I suspect the heavens buzzed in much the same way that day in the garden. Adam and Eve were created for life. They were created for eternal oneness with God their Creator. They were not made for separation. They were not made for death. The Father is life, and they were made in His likeness. But then Death came in the form of a lie, and just like that, the stone was rolled over the opening of a tomb. An irreversible fate. Death. The Father’s children that He loved, that He had created for life, now would die. It’s too much to bear. Too tragic. Too unnatural. Death shakes a fist at Life and says, “You cannot conquer me. My finality wins!”
So what are we left with? You and I are left mourning outside the tomb of Lazarus just like Mary and Martha. We are left standing outside the gates of Eden wondering how we will survive, pacing and waiting for our inevitable turn at death. What a tragic situation that was never supposed to be.
But then Love happens. Love walks in the garden in the cool of the day and says “Where are you?”. Love crushes the head of the serpent and makes new garments of skin for his naked children. Love stands outside the tomb and weeps for all the doubters around Him that do not believe. He weeps for His children that He loves. He weeps and mourns for me, and He weeps and mourns for you…for the ones He loves that are lost.
But it doesn’t end there. Jesus had just said to Martha one of the most powerful claims He ever made while in the flesh: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whosoever believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26). And so with that, Jesus rises to His feet and stands outside the tomb of death and calls in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man listens. Because Love conquers Death. Love comes for His lost and dead children. We were not created for separation, but for life with the Father, and so He rolls away stones and says “Come out!”
And with that final dress rehearsal of the Father’s love, the time has come for The Son of Man to be glorified. Jesus picks up His cross and bears the sins of all men, because His love and grace does not allow Death to win. He wholly surrenders His spirit into the hands of the One that He knows will resurrect it. He pours out himself, His life, so that we may taste life eternal.
This Easter morning, my prayer is that I will hear and see the One that stood outside my tomb and said “Amy, come out and live!” I pray I can see the darkness of a sealed tomb being slowly filled with the light of the only One that can give it. He says and does the same thing for you today. Insert your name in the place of Lazarus’, and hear what your Father is claiming over you. ”Come out!” For He has conquered the grave on your behalf.
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