I can’t stop thinking about Lazarus…you know, the dead, stinky guy. (If you don’t, you can read about him in John 11.)
To be the guy that was sick…and called upon the Lord for healing, only to receive in reply a “Please leave a message at the beep.”
To be the guy who in his weakest moment would serve as an example of another’s greater power.
To be the guy whose stinky condition needed to be wrapped up and hidden away.
To be the guy whose hope was gone…whose time was up.
It must have been humiliating.
I can relate to the disappointment that his two sisters experienced, and him, when Jesus didn’t come and do what Jesus is supposed to do.
I wonder if Mary felt she had wasted her perfume on Jesus. I probably would have let the thought cross my mind if He disappointed me so.
Were they all mistaken about Jesus’ sentiments for the Favored Family of Bethany? Because that’s the whole point of having “family connections” with Jesus, right? He’s supposed to rush in at just the right moment and with one brush of His Superman cape He will make everything okay.
Instead, all their family connections got them were disappointment…
And Lazarus got a stinkin’ four day nap.
It must have been so humiliating.
That is until the dead, stinky guy heard the voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”
Really? Now? Why so late?
I have to think Lazarus was a bit bashful, maybe embarrassed, about coming out of that tomb. He’s covered in four-day-old grave wrappings and probably a terrible case of bed head. Good thing it wasn’t one of the sisters, because no woman would ever be caught walking out to get the morning newspaper, let alone to be the morning headlines, looking like that!
The sisters are terrified at just the thought of the tombstone being opened and the family stench getting lose. Last time we met Martha she was worried about the lunch not being so-so and now Jesus is pulling corpses out of the closet! It’s her worse nightmare. The whole town will be a buzz with this circus event. Will this ordeal ever end?
Yet the text tells us, “The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.”
Here’s the point I think we all see in the death and life of Lazarus that we are so apt to overlook in our lives:
Humility is required to walk into the new life to which Jesus calls us.
Lazarus wasn’t going to get cleaned up until he came out. Either will you. Either will I.
Don’t you find that often we would rather let death hang in the air than to take the humble steps of receiving life from someone else? We’re so afraid to reveal our true condition that we’ll hide as the dead, stinky guy rather than just say, “I’m sorry.” “I was wrong.” “I need a second chance.” “I need you to help take these wrappings of death off of me—they are squeezing the life out of me!”
New life doesn’t come until you step out of the grave clothes of the old, disappointing, stinky life.
Too many of us cling to the Monty Python line, “I’m not dead yet!” Well, in fact, you are…but you don’t have to stay that way.
Come out. Humble yourself. Come out and live.
“Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”