My favorite story about Jesus is when he raises his friend, Lazarus, from the dead:
A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, Lord, your dear friend is very sick. (John 11:1, 3)
Jesus did not go to them right away. He and his disciples stayed where they were for two days before they made the journey back. By the time they made it to Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” were the first words to come from both Martha and Mary as soon as they saw Jesus. Martha went on to say, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” She knew that Jesus could bring him back to life. In all of the commotion, Jesus saw Mary weeping and everyone wailing. Verse 33 says that “a deep anger welled up within him and he was deeply troubled.” Then Jesus asked where they put Lazarus, AND…. HE… WEPT. Everyone could tell how much Jesus loved Lazarus. So why didn’t he keep Lazarus from dying? Two reasons are given:
1. So that the Son of God will receive glory for this (v.4)
2. So that the disciples will really believe (v. 15)
Jesus shouted, “Lazarus come out!” And the dead man came out still wrapped in his grave clothes. Then Jesus said, “Unwrap him and let him go” (John 11:43-44)
Lazarus was not the only person Jesus raised from the dead. Jesus performed many miracles, and yet this is the only miracle he performed where we get to see such raw human emotion from him. He knew Lazarus was dead, so why did he become angry? He knew he was going to bring Lazarus back to life, so why did he weep? One simple reason: because Jesus loved Lazarus and he felt the sting of loss. Lazarus was not just another dead person he raised from the dead, he was his dear friend. I love how in this story, we get to see his humanity and his deity collide. Sometimes, the concept of Jesus being fully man and fully God can be difficult for us to understand, and it has been questioned since His very existence on this earth. But when we read this story, we can see it. We get to see that Jesus had real emotions and human connections just like we do as we see him weep over the death of a loved one. And we also get to see his power and might when he tells a dead man to come out of his tomb, and the dead man comes out, fully alive. The Bible doesn’t say this, but can you imagine Jesus’ reaction when his friend comes back to life? The story ends with Jesus telling them to unwrap him and let him go, but I doubt that is really the end. I imagine there was great rejoicing and celebration.
This story reminds me that Jesus not only sees our hurts and disappointments, but has felt them himself. And because he has felt them himself, he understands them. Jesus was fully God, fully divine, and sometimes that makes the task of following him and being more like him a little daunting, doesn’t it? But He was also fully human and he struggled with much of the same things we struggled with. He felt sadness, anger, pain, temptation, even fear. Remember when he asked God to not make him go through the suffering of the cross? He even struggled with obedience, yet he was still obedient. There is nothing that we have felt that Jesus hasn’t. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Then we also get to see the power and might of Jesus when he raises a dead man back to life. Jesus can raise the things that have become dead in our lives; our ministries, our passions, our godly desires, our marriages, etc. Sometimes, we become weary and allow those things die, but Jesus can breathe new life into them. He can breathe new life into us!
What were you once so passionate about, that you know the Lord was calling you to do? Have you allowed those passions to die? Do you believe, just like Martha knew Jesus could bring Lazarus back to life, that Jesus can bring those desires back to life? Just ask him and he will do it!
Karisa Madera Central Church of Christ Del Rio, Texas Executive Assistant