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Jesus brings us life, even if death is first (part three of three)
Jesus, who is still weeping, goes to the tomb and he asks them to remove the stone.
Martha still doesn’t get it and thinks there will be a stench. Jesus tells us to feel the comfort of God’s glory and to trust him (a fact he confirmed that she indeed believe earlier in the passage).
Note how Jesus prays here. He is praying a prayer of thanks. He knows Lazarus is alive, and he is thankful that his body hasn’t decayed into a zombie.
Jesus prayer for two days before he ventured to Bethany may very well have been for the body to stay intact, that there would not be decay, that there wouldn’t be a stench.
When we “raised again” by Jesus, we might lose our stench too. I think that might be part of what Jesus is saying here. And he reinforces it again, by saying “untie him.” In other words, free him. He is free from death and we should all know it.
This explicit raising helps us know that life in Christ is about resurrection. Jesus is coming to grips with that himself, because at this point in the drama, Jesus is walking in his own valley of death.
He just performed the miracle that will put the high priests over the edge and plot to kill Jesus (it is in fact the next portion of the chapter that you can read on your own if you choose). He is really entering the first day of the rest of his life.
The story is a magnificent one, and John tells us masterfully. But I think the take away I want you to have tonight is that it’s OK to be human. No one expects you or me to be anything less than that. Jesus brought some of his anxiety and worry and perhaps avoidance to the forefront when he was praying before he ventured to Bethany. You might feel the exact same thing before you make a big choice. I want you to note that Jesus still went ahead and did it, and part of the reason was because he was able to actually process his worry, doubt, and go and do something miraculous.
Despite having faith in God, despite knowing that the Lord has raised Lazarus from the dead—he still mourns, he still grieves the loss of his friend, the lack of faith and understanding of his followers, and even his impending death.
I’m glad Jesus didn’t just reduce his predicament down to some rationality—the Jewish promise of eternal life, the fact that He was going to reveal His glory through the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus had the answers that would solve his negative emotions, but he still had them.
The question for us is what do we want to rationalize into oblivion? Has postmodernism stripped up of actually have a negative emotion regarding anything? Or is everything relative? Do we just think we are “objective” people that lack emotion? As we learn to know about Christ’s humanities, I wonder how much humanity we offer to ourselves and to our leaders?
This is a simple application: let’s try to allow each other to process our negative emotions, have good conflict, and allow God to show up in the midst of it. Let’s not cover up our negative feelings. Let’s try to let God resurrection among our grief, anxiety, sadness, depression, and hurt. I think he can, and he bring life through them. Thanks for doing this with us.