John 11:25: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live …”
In the Word of God, I love the shadows of earthly things that point to the substance of the coming, powerful truth.
Jesus gave us (and one heck of an interesting family in Bethany) one of his foreshadows of this truth through the actual account of raising his good friend Lazarus from the dead.
So the story goes like this: When Lazarus becomes seriously ill, his sisters send Christ a message that reads, “He whom you love is ill.” Mary and Martha send this simple statement believing Jesus will do something about their brother’s situation instantly. Considering that this family knew Christ, I’m sure they were aware of healings he’d performed including the centurion’s servant that was healed without being in Christ’s vicinity. I’m guessing the sisters believed that the moment Christ became aware of the situation, he’d either come immediately or instantly heal their brother.
But as is the way of Christ, He didn’t do the expected, but revealed that this, this situation was going to look like all was lost and it would look this way for His glory. He told his disciples “This illness does not lead to death but to the glory of God … ”Wait, back up.
So Christ has been healing folks all other the Holy Land and when His good friend is sick, He indicates that he’s going to allow it?”
After two … TWO more days, Christ tells His disciples that Lazarus has fallen asleep and now He will go and wake him up. That He waited two days is significant. As the author and perfecter of our faith, He put these sisters through a trial of patience to test that golden faith he’d been building in each.
Sometimes waiting is His plan.
All to radiate His glory.
So now Jesus and His disciples are heading back through hostile territory to Bethany. And this is where all sorts of shadows (Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1) come into play.
Martha – you remember Martha? She’s the one who, earlier, complained to Christ that her sister, Mary, wasn’t helping her in the kitchen when they had guests to feed. In that event, Jesus mildly rebuked Martha and told her that Mary has chosen the better place to spend her time – at His feet.
Now, it’s Martha who gets up and rushes out to meet Jesus when she hears He’s coming. Mary stayed behind.
Interesting twist here.
Hang with me. At the rapture, we’re told, that we will meet Christ in the air. Martha’s going out to meet the King, I believe, is a foreshadow of the rapture of the bride and this is a beautiful, beautiful picture of Martha’s alert faith.
She’s alerted that He’s coming, and she rushes out to be with Him rather than sit and mourn and wait for His arrival. Are we to be alert, waiting to meet our Savior soon? — Oh, yeah.
Back to the story: When Martha meets Jesus, their conversation is exhilarating! This is where He makes this “I AM the resurrection and the life” statement and Martha makes a couple of faith-revealing declarations of her own. You can read their exchange in verses 21 through 27. As the plot unfolds, Martha returns home in order to bring Mary to Jesus, telling Mary that the King asked for her. Get this? Martha leads Mary to Jesus this time! When Martha led Mary to Jesus, she falls at his feet in heart-breaking agony. Our King is so moved, He cries.
He does not rebuke her for not coming to Him initially, but cries with her!
The whole party of mourners and disciples make their way to the cave grave holding Lazarus. Jesus tells the men to roll away the stone covering the entrance and he calls Lazarus to “come out.”
And here comes Lazarus, after four days dead, wrapped in the cloths of a mummy, walking out of the dark cave of death and into the light of day.
Let that sink in for a moment.
So, so much going on here, it’s hard to contain to this one blog assignment.
Let me make some simple observations for your considerations:
1. Christ refers to Lazarus’ death as sleeping. We don’t die in the sense of the original curse-wielding death of body and soul but leave our sickly bodies.
2. Through Scripture, we are assured that as believers, once we shed this body, we are instantly with Christ (Luke 23:43). His reference to sleeping is a statement to comfort the mourning Christian left on this side of the glass darkly and not a statement about the condition of those who have gone to heaven ahead of us. I believe he uses the term “asleep” to ensure the absence of a loved one is temporal. Believers in heaven are not asleep.
3. Martha went to retrieve her mournful sister and bring her to Christ. When our brothers and sisters are discouraged, and cannot get to Christ on their own, we are to help them go to him.
4. Lazarus never died. He left his body. In this actual account, Jesus shows the world that He controlled the whole story line from allowing Lazarus’ body to be ill to the point of death, to calling Lazarus back from heaven, to restoring that decaying body in the tomb. He is the resurrection and life. Your afflictions have purpose in His hands.
5. Jesus told humans to roll away the stone. The stone, it seems, is rolled away to shed light on the truth of the grave. Christ could have had the stone blasted to smithereens with a nod of His head, or commanded an angel to come and remove the massive rock. But He asks the mourners standing by to be the ones to shed light on the grave and let Lazarus out. Are we not to do the same and remove heavy obstacles so that we would be light-shedders?
6. Our afflictions are designed to bring God glory. Lazarus’ illness and death resulted in our Lord claiming that He is the resurrection and life.
Praise God! The words “for his glory” should supernaturally satisfy our mourning hearts when we find ourselves afflicted.
Read about another shadow name Christ calls himself here: https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2020/12/03/the-door/
Oh, how Scripture illuminates truth! Our swords, the Word, are sharpened every time we dive in and seek profound understanding.
Wield you swords Warriors!