Jesus held His left arm across Mary’s shoulders. His right Arm was across Martha’s. The three of them led a procession to the family burial cave.
Mary wrapped both arms around Jesus’s waist. Martha caressed Jesus’s hand on her shoulder.
They paused as people filled in the area behind them when they reached the tomb of Lazarus.
Jesus let out a sigh. “Oh, this wretched curse of death with its separation.”
A silence fell over the crowd when Jesus looked at the men near the tomb. “Roll the stone away from the entrance.”
Martha looked at Jesus. “Lord, he’s been in there four days. There’s going to be a stench by now.”
Jesus searched her eyes. “It’s necessary for God to be glorified.”
Martha paused, then looked at the men. She motioned for them to roll the stone to the side.
A fourth man stepped in to push the massive rock away. The man closest to the entrance spilled the contents of his stomach on the ground. People covered their faces with their sleeves.
Both women stepped back when Jesus raised His hands.
He looked to the sky. “Father, thank You for hearing me. It’s for the sake of these near Me I say this so they will believe in Your power.”
He lowered His hands, looked into the blackness of the cave and shouted. “Lazarus, come out here!”
One by one folks uncovered their faces as the smell of a freshly washed baby filled the air.
A scuffling sound came from the tomb.
Lazarus hopped to the entrance and stopped.
Jesus motioned to the men. “Unwrap him. He no longer needs those graveclothes.”
Tears were streaming down Martha and Mary’s faces when they wrapped their arms around Jesus.
A cheer rose from the crowd as Lazarus walked over and hugged his sisters and Jesus.
As far as miracles go, they don’t get any better than this. A man has been dead so long his body is decaying. Yet, somehow Jesus brings him back to full health and vitality. In fact he’s so alive he can hop out of the tomb still wrapped like a mummy.
To make it even better there are plenty of witnesses to experience it.
[Tweet “When things are bad groan to God. When things are great give glory to God”]
I see three main lessons Jesus lived out in performing this miracle.
1. Jesus groaned about the circumstances He was in. Twice in this account John points out the fact that Jesus groaned: the first time was in verse 33 when He saw the crowd crying; the second time was in verse 38 as they’re standing in front of the tomb.
You see, groans are totally acceptable to God. Go ahead and let out any emotion you have over your situation. He knows all about it and wants to hear your heart’s cry even if all you can do is groan.
Romans 8:26 tells us the Holy Spirit groans for us to God whenever we don’t have the words to express what we long to say. So, groaning is not only acceptable to God He uses it convey our own emotions to Himself.
Keep in mind that two verses later Paul writes that all things will work together for our good and God’s glory. Yeah, even the things that make us groan.
2. Jesus reflected the glory of this event back to God the Father. Before Jesus performs this most excellent miracle He voices a prayer so everyone in attendance knows that the power He’s about to show them comes from God the Father.
Even though Jesus is God in the flesh He still knows the importance of giving the proper authority for the ultimate miracle. Jesus was just the channel God used to pull this back-to-life event off.
Don’t ever get so caught up in your own achievements you think you’re the one making it happen.
When things are bad groan to God. When things are great give glory to God.
3. Jesus didn’t shirk away from following through with this miracle no matter how absurd it seemed. Jesus didn’t call a committee together to analyse the data and get feedback about the situation before He took action.
When God called Him to bring Lazarus back to life Jesus just did it. The decayed corpse was not a hindrance to the Creator. He who made everything out of nothing can easily remake anything back to its original form.
Remember this fact when you face a difficult situation that appears to have no possible way of coming back together. Many marriages have been revived after a divorce. Several children have returned home after a horrendous lifestyle choice.
Keep praying for that miracle to happen in your life. I know I am right now.
One more thing to keep in mind about this and how it relates to us: there’s likely going to be a great stench for God to receive the ultimate glory in any situation.
When God led the Hebrew nation out of Egypt He purposely trapped them between the sea and the greatest army of that day. Why? So they would see His power as He got rid of the enemy that was pursuing them.
Many folks need to hit rock bottom before they declare their dependence on God for their strength.
It might seem counter-intuitive but let me make a suggestion here. Pray for your loved one to hit that low point in their life so they return home.
There may be a smell nobody wants to face over that approach, but it’s likely the only way God can step in to work His miracle for you.
Life is messy. Sin is terrible. Pride is stubborn. People are people. God is God.
As Martha took the chance of dealing with her stench to see God’s work you must do the same.
Let go of the situation and allow God to work where you can’t see.
Everything is working together to give God the glory and make us all more like Jesus.
It will likely get worse before it gets better.
God saves the best for last.
I’ll see you later. Wade