She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So 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 Raises Lazarus to Life
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
The story of the raising of Lazarus is familiar to many of us. Jesus hears of the death of his dear friend but waits two days before travelling to their family home. Jesus makes it clear that he waited so that he could demonstrate his power over physical life so that people could understand his power to forgive and restore spiritual life and believe that he was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God as Mary and Martha evidenced! Jesus knew that Lazarus illness would not lead to death but was to bring glory to God it was also an illustration of his own death and rising again, although this would not be to earthly life, but his resurrected body. He knew time was short for himself on this Earth and indeed this event provoked the Pharisees to increase their efforts to find and kill Jesus as they saw him as a threat.
But let’s look at another perspective, which is perhaps more relevant to us here at a service of healing. That is Jesus reactions to the grieving sisters and the angry Jews who saw his delay in coming to them as unfeeling. Jesus did come in response to hearing of his friends death -but it was in his own time. How often do we want immediate healing, answers now, relief from pain – quite understandably, as no one wants to see anyone suffer. Many of us may find it all too easy to identify with the sisters and Jews who were angry that Jesus had kept them waiting.
Yet, Jesus is with us, he is always with us – and he knows our thoughts before we do. He knew Martha’s disbelief and anger at his delay and her grief for Lazarus and Mary’s thought that Lazarus would not have died if any Jesus had been there physically with them. Yet out of this both came to believe that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God.
And when he did come we are told that Jesus was “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved”. These are strong words. “Greatly disturbed” is repeated in Jesus reaction to the Jews as he approached the tomb.It implies that Feeling deep inside him a moment of empathy at a depth greater than any of us could offer.
One of the many descriptions by theologians struggling to put feelings into words which I don’t think can never be accurate is that “such deep emotion seized Jesus that an involuntary groan was wrung from his heart”.
Imagine Jesus responding to us this deeply in our own fears and griefs which may be almost too painful for us to bear. How amazing that Jesus can share these at a deep level but which he can hold with us and bring comfort.
Jesus shares all our fears, concerns, grief, and longings for physical healing, he feels these more deeply than we can image and shares all our emotional and spiritual pain.
The Greeks believed that God had total inability feel emotion yet here we have Jesus, God’s Son showing that yes, he could be deeply moved. If Jesus could be stirred to emotion, then we have confirmation of the revelation that God does indeed feel and care for each one of us in all our emotions.
We have the promise of the Holy Spirit sent by God through Jesus to be with us. And remember, he is often referred to as the comforter. He is with us to strengthen us and comfort us.
And we can be assured that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share with us in all our deepest feelings as we face troubles and illness in this world, with the promise of eternal life in our resurrection bodies in the life of the world to come.