Maybe you've heard the old quote from Benjamin Franklin, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes". Well Mr. Franklin, you nailed that one right on the head and not only are they certain, but they are often horrible experiences for us. I think it's safe to say we’ve always dealt with death. Maybe you’ve lost a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, a friend or even a child. Death is one of the most difficult things we as humans must deal with in this life. I watched my dad go through one of the hardest times in his life when my brother took his own life. I’ve never seen someone become as lifeless and empty as he did so quickly.
The losses we experience may help us to understand how difficult it must have been for Mary, Martha, and Jesus when they lost a brother and a friend. In John’s gospel we read that Lazarus had passed away and everyone was in great mourning. But amazingly, Jesus brings Lazarus back to life. Incredible! We don't see that though, so sometimes it’s hard to appreciate what an event it must have been. But there was a moment when what Jesus says to Martha makes Lazarus coming back to life seem like a little more than a footnote. Martha says to Jesus, “If you would have been here he wouldn't have died.” Jesus tells her that he will rise again, but to something much greater than a physical life. Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Jesus lets Martha know that there is an eternal life he offers to those who believe in him. How awesome would it be if a loved one was able to come back to life? Likewise, how awesome is it to know that we can live forever? Maybe you have recently dealt with a death in the family and maybe you have mourned and wept. Let’s remember that death is only temporary and those who believe in him will have a greater, eternal, never-ending life when our time here on this earth is done.
Prayer: Thank you Jesus for all the amazing things you did during your time here on earth. Thank you for the many miracles you performed on this earth, showing just how powerful you really are. Thank you for not only providing physical life, but also eternal life, a life only you have to offer. Help us to remember the promise we have of an eternal life as we wade through the day-to-day challenges in this life. Let us remember there are greater things yet to come. We pray these things in that name of Jesus, amen.
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “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.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.