If you think bringing back to life a man who has been dead for four days is the greatest miracle Jesus ever performed, you need to read your Bible again. More specifically, you need the re-read that same passage in which Lazarus was raised. It’s time to take another trip through John 11. Care to join me?
It’s a familiar story.
I bet most of the important details are etched in your mind. Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, was terminally ill. The two sisters had tried every remedy but Lazarus responded to none. Death was bent on snatching his breath. Lazarus was going to die, and die he did. Yet, his death was received with an unusual amount of grief. It’s not like the two sisters had never lost a close person. For all we know, they were orphans. They knew the pain of losing a parent, two parents even. Yet, the death of their beloved brother had an unwelcome sting to it.
You see, it could have been avoided.
There was one who could have healed Lazarus with just a word or two. Jesus of Nazareth was their friend. But Jesus was nowhere to be found. As the two sisters watched their beloved brother succumb to death, they “hated” Jesus. He should have been here. Surely, he could have spared them from this grief. Their pain was doubled, because on the one occasion where they needed him most, Jesus was nowhere to be found.
Four days later, Jesus showed up. He came to grieve with them. Their pain was his pain. He shared in their sadness. When he came, he did not preach a sermon about how death is a normal part of life. He did not rationalize the fact that death is inevitable and everyone has to die sooner or later. No, Jesus wept. It’s hard to tell whether it was Mary’s lack of faith or Lazarus’ death that brought tears to the eyes of Jesus. But one thing we can be sure of is that both events were grievous to Jesus. That’s why he let his tears flow. Death was death, whether it was the death of Lazarus or the death of Mary’s faith.
But before Jesus wept, something amazing happened. Something that many of us (I for one) have often overlooked in our impatient rush to get to the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. In our hurry to see a dead man walking, many of of us have missed the dead woman walking. In our rush to see the stone at Lazarus’ tomb being rolled away, we miss the stone at another woman’s tomb being rolled away.
In John 11:25-27 Jesus says to Martha; “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
And Martha answers, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Many of us miss this miracle, yet, it was the greatest miracle that happened on that eventful day. This miracle was greater than the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus had just preached the Gospel to Martha, and Martha had believed. She recognized Jesus as the Christ. She was born again. Martha, who had been dead all her life, had just been brought to life!
Jesus had just raised Martha from the dead! No one can deny that the resurrection of Lazarus was quite impressive. But Lazarus still ended up dying later on. What’s even more impressive was the resurrection of Martha.
Hers was an eternal resurrection.
She will never die again, and if you are in Christ, neither will you.