The Old City has one of the oldest graveyards in the world, almost 6,000 years old. When a Jewish person dies, traditionally the person is buried within 24 hours, but if that is not possible then the family waits for relatives, colleagues, friends and neighbours to arrive. The deceased is not cremated or embalmed but wrapped in linen and kept in a tomb and for seven days, the family sits and mourns while their community stays with them and comforts them. This 1 week sitting period is called Shiva.
Lazarus is sick. His two sisters quickly send a messenger to the only One they know that can help heal him. Jesus loved the siblings and tells the messenger to convey that Lazarus’ sickness will NOT end in death but will end up glorifying God. Despite the urgency of the situation, Jesus stayed two more days outstation. By the time He arrives Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days! When He arrives, both sisters go outside and say the same thing: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” A crowd has followed the sisters out to comfort them and saw Jesus there talking to them. By this time Jesus is insta famous. Everybody knows who He is, that He heals the sick and the blind and the crippled and performs miracles that blow your mind. Some of them ask, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus sees his friends mourning, He sees the people mourning and He is moved deeply. We here find the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” He weeps not for Lazarus because He knows his outcome but He weeps because He sees his loved ones going through pain.
Then Jesus asks to roll away the stone, says a prayer and shouts into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!”. Lazarus walks out to the shock of the crowd wrapped in strips of linen.
That day, Lazarus’ household and friends and neighbours saw what happened and many believed.
Sometimes we don’t understand why Jesus lets what we love die. We don’t understand why He allowed the Holocaust to happen. Why are believers persecuted and torn from their families and martyred? But God’s timing is perfect. His ways are higher and we’ll never get this until we get that God loves us so deeply He longs for us to be under His wings. Not a single word He speaks will fall fruitless to the ground.
If He says you can do it, you may fail partway getting there but victory is already yours.
We ask the question ‘Why, God?’ and ‘Where were you?’ and sometimes our faith can be so shattered by the bad things that happen to us. Maybe you even put on a strong face and tell people, “Oh don’t worry God has a plan and He’ll take care of it. He’s coming to heal this.” But inside when God “doesn’t come through” we’re left with this hanging question about His goodness and His care for us.
Martha, even after watching her hopes dashed and burying her brother, can look Jesus in the eye and say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who has come into the world by God.”
I still believe in You even when I don’t understand. When I don’t see your hand I will trust in Your character.
Mourning and then BANG! They all see Jesus perform this miracle and they believe.
For a short period, Lazarus may wonder why he had to die and may resent Jesus for taking His time but because of this, his life and testimony change forever. Now everywhere he goes, people want to know and Lazarus gets to tell the truth about the Great Healer at a greater capacity. Lazarus’ sisters felt sadness and mourning at first but their whole household and neighbourhood had an opportunity to believe Jesus!
None of this would’ve happened if Jesus came on their time and healed Lazarus just like they expected.
ALL these things take place to glorify God.
The empty tomb is our assurance and encouragement to HOLD ON THE TO THE FAITH!
He will always, always, always, show up. And when He does, BANG! They will believe and lives will be transformed.
Graduation just ended and tomorrow is a free day so I will update about the people I’ve met and my story of why and how I came to SOM for the bible study tour.
Stay tuned. Thank you for supporting this. One more day and the travel blogging is complete!
Thinking of: Peter and Rita Tsukahira.