August 4, 2008
Faith You Can Take to the Grave
“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:4 (NLT)
Do you avoid stinky things? Me too, but reading the story of Lazarus in John 11:1-46, changed my mind.
Lazarus became very sick. So his sister Martha sent for Jesus to come heal him. Jesus sent word back promising Lazarus’ illness would not end in death, and God would be glorified. A couple of days later, Jesus had not shown up and Lazarus died.
After the funeral, Martha goes out to meet Jesus, leaving her sister Mary and the other mourners behind. When she sees Him, Martha exclaims, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”
Her statement sounds like a complaint about Jesus running late or not answering her request for healing. Perhaps it was, but it was also a statement of faith. Her next statement was too. She said, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Before Martha said another thing, Jesus assured her brother will rise again.
Martha remembered Jesus saying Lazarus wouldn’t die from this illness. But Lazarus did die, so she figured Jesus must be talking about the future resurrection day of all souls. She mentions that. Jesus explained that HE IS the RESURRECTION LIFE and anyone who believes this will receive eternal life on that coming resurrection day. He asks Martha if she believes that through Him a person can live eternally even though they die physically.
Martha – who today is known for being too busy in the kitchen to sit with Jesus when He visited – responded, “Yes, Lord, I have always believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Martha may have taken some heat for fussing over dinner on that day, but on this day she takes the cake for having great belief in Jesus.
Martha left and told Mary Jesus wanted to see her. Mary had been inconsolable over Lazarus’ death. The Bible says, “When the people who were trying to console Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to weep at Lazarus’s grave and followed her.” Instead, Mary went to Jesus.
Jesus felt for Mary as she wept there at His feet over her brother. Jesus loved Lazarus, and cried along with her. Our Lord can feel our pain. I am so thankful for a Savior who has walked this dusty earth, feeling the emotions and dealing with the complexities of human life as we know it.
At Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus called for the stone to be rolled away and Martha panics over what it will smell like. To keep it real, I don’t care much for the smell of a dirty, sweaty man. So I’m with Martha here; I wouldn’t want to smell a 4-days-dead one. But Jesus responded to her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”
Pause here and consider, are there areas of your life you have thought “dead?” Maybe your finances stink, or your career? Maybe your marriage, or your sex-life with your spouse? Maybe a relationship with a parent, husband, or child?
Once the tomb was opened, Jesus said: “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe you sent me." Then Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And Lazarus came out, bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!" (John 11:42-43, NLT). Many witnesses to this then believed in Jesus.
Notice that we may not always get to hear Jesus when He commands the resurrection in own our circumstances. Sometimes we just have to take it on faith. Furthermore, at first, it may not look or smell much like resurrected life – even though Jesus has summonsed it. In fact, it might continue looking like a smelly corpse in graveclothes! But, if we trust and persevere, unwrapping those graveclothes, we will find the miracle of resurrection life has gone forth.
Jesus holds resurrection power – do we hold belief? If so, we will get to see God and His glory displayed. If so, we will get to remove the graveclothes from the dead areas of our hearts and lives. And, if so, we too will one day rise from our graves.
Dear Lord, I praise You for resurrection power – may it go forth in my life today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen
To read or discuss this passage of scripture, follow this link to Rachel’s blog.
Are there areas of your life you’ve shut off from God’s resurrection power for fear of how it will “smell” if you open that door?
Where do you need God’s resurrection power - pray for it and believe!
Colossians 3:1, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” (NLT)
© 2008 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 04 August 2008.