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The Grave, the Gift, and the Guarantee May 19, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, General Ranting, Religion.
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One of the most poignant stories in the entire New Testament has reached a sad conclusion.  Mary, Martha, and Lazarus had been friends of Jesus for much of his Earthly ministry.  They had been faithful supporters for Jesus and the disciples from the beginning.

 

THE GRAVE:

Lazarus had fallen ill and word had been sent to Jesus.  They knew the true source of healing.  There was no doubt in their minds that Jesus could heal Lazarus of anything.  I am speculating but am also sure that the only concern in Mary or Martha’s mind was how quickly could Jesus get there.  They KNEW he could set things right.  They were in for a sad surprise.  Jesus tarried his coming.  He waited.  It would be foolish to think that Jesus did this from some spirit of cruelty or doubt in his own abilities.  Jesus knew what he was doing.  Time passed and still no Jesus.  Eventually the inevitable occurred and Lazarus passed from this life.  The sisters were heartbroken.

THE GIFT:

When Jesus was certain that Lazarus had passed away he journeyed to Bethany.  Lazarus had been gone four days.  He was well and truly dead.  In most of the interaction with Jesus, Mary is portrayed as the faithful one and Martha is presented as concerned with details that may not be important, but here Martha is the one to greet Jesus while Mary remains in the house.  Martha greets Jesus with words of faith and hope even at this late hour.  One wonders what was going through Mary’s mind at this time.  Martha affirms her faith that even now God will grant Jesus any prayer he prays.  She still has hope, although her next statement lets us know that she is not completely convinced.  Regardless of her faith or lack thereof, Jesus makes what might be the most powerful affirmation of his position and power in what he says to Martha.

John 11:25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

          John 11:26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Her response was equally affirming.  Jesus asked Martha where Lazarus was buried and headed off that direction.  Martha immediately called Mary to some see.  I rather suspect that in the midst of all the sadness and despair, hers was the only face wearing a smile.  She HAD to know that something huge and world-shaking was about to happen.  It did.  Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb and out he came.

Interestingly enough, raising Lazarus is NOT the gift I am talking about.  The real gift here was given to Mary and Martha on one hand and the disciples on the other.  The disciples were about to go through a very trying time and they NEEDED to see that death was not the end.  Jesus gave them a preview to his own revival.  Had they been more attentive they would have been sitting in front of the tomb on the third day instead of feeling sorry for themselves.

Mary and Martha also received a great gift and it was NOT the revival of their brother.  The sisters, were already women of faith.  They had seen Jesus work before.  They KNEW he could do miracles.  Likely they were comfortable with the idea of Jesus healing Lazarus and, as we said earlier, were not too concerned until Jesus didn’t show up and Lazarus died.  Jesus gave them the opportunity to take the next step in faith.  Very few people get a faith fertilizer boost like that.  When we get a miracle healing or divine intervention in a personal problem we tend to think of God’s power as capable of doing whatever it was that He did for us and no more.  Mary and Martha discovered that there are NO LIMITS to God’s power if we only believe.

THE GUARANTEE:

Now here is where it gets interesting.  I bet you’re sitting there thinking “OK we’ve seen the grave and the gift, so the guarantee must be all about eternal life and faith.”  How many are seeing that as my final destination.  Ah ha ha ha I am once again too tricky for you.  The guarantee is one that you will never see coming.  The guarantee is that THIS miracle, this act of kindness to a friend, this absolute demonstration of his power and the most straight-forward acknowledgement of his position as rightful king and Son of God is what guaranteed his death on the cross.  This greatest of miracles guaranteed that he would never be accepted by the Jewish people as king when it should have completely cemented their faith.  Many Jews believed and when the chief priest and scribes of the Sanhedrin heard it they, at that moment, sentenced him to death.  The leaders were terrified that if Jesus were elevated to kingship by the common people the  Romans would take it badly.  Their response would be swift and violent and Israel, as a country, would not survive.  How silly.  They let fear keep them from accepting the one king that could have prevented exactly what happened a few years later.  The Romans destroyed the country of Israel and it stayed destroyed until the middle of the twentieth century when, like Lazarus, it came back.

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Comments»

1. regan222 - May 23, 2012

Ok, who noticed my eggregious error on Sunday? If you noticed and will leave a comment here I will award you valuable prizes and coupons and stuff. PS. It’s already fixed in the narrative.


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