Lazarus was lying in his bed becoming sicker with each passing day. The wisdom of the medicos of the day informed his much loved sisters that his illness was fatal and his death was only a few days away. They knew Jesus could heal Lazarus if He was there so they sent for Him in the hope He could get there in time.
The disciples were with Jesus when the message came. They knew that Jesus had a special love for Lazarus, Mary and Martha but they understood the dilemma. The Jews in Jerusalem wanted to stone Jesus and Lazarus’ home was only a half hour’s walk from Jerusalem.
Lazarus was suffering the last stage of bodily death; his sisters were agonising with him unable to help. Lazarus died and his sisters agonised further in grieving and mourning. What a shame Jesus didn’t make it in time; the pain, agony and suffering that could have been avoided.
What a shock it must have been to the disciples when, after two days of hearing of Lazarus’ plight, Jesus announced His determination to go to Judea. They foresaw only more death, this time for Jesus and maybe themselves.
Thomas resigned himself to Jesus’ death and that of himself and the other disciples. He was in a state of despair and could see no hope in the future.
When Jesus and the disciples arrived Lazarus had been dead four days. Mary and Martha would have been past the shock of their brother’s death and coming to grips with the reality of life without him.
When news of His coming reached Mary and Martha, Martha rushed to Jesus to share her grief with Him. She knew He could have healed Lazarus and expressed that fact but Jesus wanted to teach her more than she already knew of Him. Later, when Mary was alone with Jesus they had a similar experience. The sisters knew Jesus could heal the sick but He was infinitely more.
They looked for Jesus for what He could do for them but He wanted to reveal Himself. The experience of Lazarus, Mary, Martha and the disciples was very real and very painful, especially for the three siblings yet it was all in the will of God. We have this strange notion that the Christian life should be free from pain and suffering but that is totally false and foreign to the Bible.
If the Lord tarries we will all pass through the door of bodily death and we will all suffer the agony of watching a loved one die at least once. It was because of the pain, suffering and grief that Lazarus, Mary and Martha came to a more full understanding of who Jesus is. Whatever you are finding painful today is an opportunity to discover more of your Saviour. Lazarus’ death was “For the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it … that you may believe.”