Scripture: John 11:36-45
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “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.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 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.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
The above phrase “deeply moved” can also be translated “disgusted” or “angered” as Jesus dealt with the skepticism from the crowd concerning his power and will to heal. Jesus’ response is perhaps further indication of his sadness, maybe even frustration in the people’s blindness to his mission.
So, he heads to the tomb where he utters the first of three commands, “Take away the stone.” A more accurate translation of Martha’s response would read, “Lord, he already stinks!” Jesus’ second comment was that it was Martha’s responsibility to believe. Since she had already said she believed, it was now time to see the glory of God revealed. Note that Jesus never did miracles simply as a show of power or for some spectacular affect. Satan tried to get him to do that when he challenged Jesus to jump from the Temple wall. His miracles were always related specifically to his divine mission of bringing glory to God as witnesses to his identity as God’s Son.
Hence, Jesus offered his prayer to the Father once again stating his mission to the world in his prayer so that those standing at the tomb might hear and see the results of his prayer. Jesus then cried out in a loud voice those victorious words, “Lazarus, come forth!” Jesus enabled all the mourners to see the glory of God by raising Lazarus from the dead. They had even been involved in the miracle by rolling the stone away and in unraveling Lazarus’ grave clothes. As a result, many more Jews put their trust in God. They saw that Jesus had power over death and God was glorified, the point of the miracle.
But this victory, while bringing salvation to many, also was most significant in moving things ahead in God’s plan for redeeming the world. Because of fierce hatred from the Jewish leaders, and because the positions of power and influence of the Romans were all being challenged by this itinerate carpenter from Nazareth, in their jealous and frightened perspective, Jesus had to be killed. On a still grander scale with the crucifixion and death of Jesus, it appeared that the establishment of the kingdom of God was foiled and that things did not turn out as they should have.
If anything, we are shown again and again and again in the life of Jesus, that we can trust the Father regardless of how things look at any given moment in our life. If we continue to trust, we will eventually see “the glory of God,” if not in this life, the next. The empty tomb still speaks! While humans were involved in rolling away the stone from Lazarus’ tomb and unwrapping the grave clothes, it was God alone who rolled the stone away from the tomb of Jesus that resurrection morning and neatly folded the grave clothes, never to be used again, either for Jesus or for you and me. As human beings, we were involved in bringing death but had nothing to do with bringing life! That was the mission of the Son of God. Glory to God!
Music: “And the Glory of the Lord” from Messiah Voces8 It dances not like we usually hear it!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, here I am again praying with words, words, and more words. I seem stuck with the same old ones all the time. I have trouble finding the right ones to express my love and complete gratitude for what you have done and continue to do on my behalf. Our words are so limiting! If you had not done what you did, there would be no hope at all. I cannot begin to imagine what that would be like. I very much connect with Paul Gerhardt’s phrase, “What language shall I borrow to thank thee dearest friend, for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?” I still don’t have words, but please listen to my heart, it’s trying to tell you what’s in there. This I pray as Jesus intercedes on my behalf, my loving Lord. Amen. –Daniel Sharp