Jesus wanted to speak with Mary and I went back for her. “The Teacher is here,” I said, “and is asking for you.”
At this request, she moved quickly – we made our way back to the place I had found Him, paying no mind to those who followed us from our house.
I watched my sister as she ran ahead at the sight of Him. She fell at Jesus’ feet, her broken heart plainly displayed. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” she cried. She wept there, knelt before Him, and He looked up with sorrow etched in His face. Suddenly, He looked much older than His thirty-three years. “Where have you laid him?” He asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” some standing nearby replied, gesturing to the road that led to the tomb.
He looked down the road and back at Mary. As He lifted His head, I saw tears falling from the Lord’s eyes.
“See how He loved him!” I heard someone say, as I made my way closer to Jesus and Mary.
“Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” another replied.
Jesus’ sorrow over my brother was obvious as He approached the stone. He did care – He did love my brother, His friend. I had known it before – but now I could see it, after these many days of wondering why He did not come, why He sent no word.
He looked at me. “Take away the stone,” He said.
I stopped, like my feet were suddenly paralyzed. In His grief, did He want to see Lazarus? It was impossible – four days in this tomb – I could not stand the thought of what might have already become of my brother. “But, Lord,” I choked out, “by this time there is — a bad odor, for he has been there four days!”
“Did I not tell you,” Jesus said, “that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
The hope that had been only a flutter now danced wildly within me. For I did not know much, but I knew what I had seen. I knew what I had heard. I knew I believed Him, this friend who loved us….this Son of God who walked with us.
And they took away the stone.
Mary and I, we stood there, our eyes on Him. Hardly breathing, we listened as He looked up to heaven.
“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.”
I gripped Mary’s hand.
Jesus called out, His voice loud and clear – “Lazarus, come forth!”
And there – there he was – my brother – my brother, who was dead….standing in the sunshine – alive.
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go!” Jesus said – and all in a moment, we were unwinding the linen strips, laughing and crying and feeling the beat of his heart as he threw his arms around us.
The unbelievable jubilation we felt was reflected on His face – and the disciples, the crowd of witnesses, were jumping and shouting in celebration with us. It was wondrous and we were filled with awe – we had sown in tears and Jesus had called forth a harvest of joy.
Lazarus was himself, restored completely – I could not let go of his arm, his hand – the warmth of his skin amazed me. The hollow inside of me was filled to overflowing with hope.
Because of Jesus, my brother was coming home again.
And the waiting – the wondering – the darkness of those days when He did not come to us…the disciples said He spoke of awakening his friend from death before He turned their path toward us. Despite the danger of walking among those who sought His life, He would come Himself instead of speaking a word of healing. He would come and reveal the glory of God.
In the silence, He still saw us. In the silence, He still loved us. In the silence, we were not abandoned.
Our limits and our expectations did not define what our Lord could do.
For if He could do this – if right before our eyes, He could call forth life from the despair of the tomb – then what could be too hard for Him? If He, Jesus Himself- was resurrection and life, then there was no such thing as too late. There was no such thing as hopeless.
So our stories would not end there in the caves outside of town – even when death would come again one day, it would not be the end of us. There would be a home for us, a home in the Kingdom of God, and Jesus would be the open door for us…and in that place, in Him – we would have everything we needed, wholly restored and wholly at home in His love.
Questions – questions that Martha and Mary must have asked – are familiar. Don’t we ask these same things? When we have waited for answers and look around to see no help in sight, don’t we wonder – how long, Lord, before You intervene? When we see the prayers of others answered, don’t we wonder why we are still waiting? When darkness seems too chase away the light, don’t we fear that it is overcoming? And in our pain- when our hearts are broken and all we can feel is grief – don’t we wonder why things have turned out in such a way?
It isn’t easy to wait. It isn’t easy to be in a place where God seems silent. It isn’t easy to have a broken heart. It isn’t easy to lose dreams or the people we love.
If this is where your heart is today – please know this: both His love and His purpose for you are unshakable…and the devastation we see in this sin-broken world is not the end of the story.
And as we wait for Him to work all things for our good…we do not wait alone. We do not cry without Him seeing our tears. When we pray, He hears. We can’t always understand His ways or His timing, but we can trust Him. Martha believed before the miracle – she had faith in the Messiah, the Son of God, the friend that she knew.
And He did not fail her – she believed, and the glory of God was revealed on that day. She saw the power of the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. (Romans 4: 17)
With all my heart, I am holding onto this – one day, we will see His glory revealed. We will see life and restoration, redemption and peace. We will see the dry bones dance and the perishable clothed with the imperishable. We will see all things made new, all things made right.
For sin does not have the final word. Sorrow does not have the final word. Death does not have the final word for us.
Jesus is the Word – and He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the final Word for our lives, our souls, our hearts – and, in these days of waiting, we know that He is both the author and the finisher of our faith. He will not fail us.
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126:5-6
“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.” Psalm 33: 20-22
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your word. My eyes fail, looking for Your promise; I say, ‘When will you comfort me?’ Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your decrees…Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations.” – Psalms 119:81-83, 89-90
Wait on Him – be of good courage – and He will strengthen your heart.-Psalm 27:14
“For we live by faith, not by sight…therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.-2 Cor. 5:7, 16-18
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” -2 Cor. 1:5
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope….with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.” –Psalm 130:5, 7
“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
“No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be you everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end…I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.” –Isaiah 60:18-20,22b