Hundreds of times I have heard the story of Lazarus. Alright, maybe not hundreds, but I can most assuredly say that I have heard it more than 10 times and less than 90.
If you aren’t familiar with the story, Mary and Martha are upset about the fact that their brother Lazarus is near death and Jesus is hundreds of miles away, unable to be with Lazarus, and thus, heal him. Jesus gets word of the fact that Lazarus had died and Mary and Martha are beyond hope, wondering why Jesus didn’t get to Lazarus’ side sooner.
Four days pass and Lazarus in lying dead, buried in a tomb, when Jesus finally arrives. At that point, I would imagine that Mary and Martha would be thrilled, and quickly ask, “Hey, could you please hop inside that tomb and bring our brother back from the dead now that you are here?” You see, Jesus had done tons of miracles at this point, and they knew his capabilities.
Instead of trusting in the power of God in the flesh, “Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’" This is a hint of hope in her tone, yet she is still unsure.
After Jesus repeatedly says things like, “Your brother will rise again” “I am the resurrection and the life.” And “Anyone who believes in me will live,” The sisters still aren’t sure about Jesus’ plans. I find this so amazing. They are standing with Jesus, the one who made blind men see again, healed leapers, turned water into wine, and fed 5,000 people with a smattering of fish and loaves of bread, surely they thought He was capable of making a dead man stand up and walk again.
They arrive at the tomb and Jesus says, “Take away the stone.” At this point I’m pretty sure that if I were standing with Jesus, and He told me to do something, I would have enough faith to say, “I’m on it! My brother Lazarus is going to walk out when I take the stone away, right?” Jesus, Son of God, was standing right there ready to do a miracle!
However, Martha replies, “But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Really Martha? Really? That is the best you’ve got? You are worried about the odor?
How many times have I doubted the power of Jesus? How many times have I doubted the still, small voice in my head giving me instruction that I didn’t act upon? How many times have I worried about the odor?
God’s power is not something I should take lightly. God always knows what is coming up next, and when we study His Word, fervently seek His guidance through prayer, and step away from the control tower, He is able to do mighty acts of grace on our behalf.
Of course Jesus raised the dead man. Lazarus walked out of the tomb, without a stench, with linen cloths still wrapped around his feet, filled with thankfulness, craving boiled fish and a biscuit.