February 28 I Thursday
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.” —John 11:25-26
When Lazarus became gravely ill, his sisters, Martha and Mary, sent word to Jesus, but He deliberately delayed His coming. By the time He arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days, lying in a tomb, wrapped in burial clothes. Family and friends were mourning his death. At separate intervals, his sisters heard that Jesus was there, and both rushed out, greeting Him in the exact same words. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). In effect, they were telling Jesus, “You’re too late.”
How often have we felt that way? We recognize that Jesus Christ is the source of life, but then we think if only He had acted sooner. If only Jesus had been here before this happened, or that happened. Like Martha and Mary, we may feel left with a sense of hopelessness. Jesus said to Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” “I know he will rise again,” she answered, “in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:23-25).
Martha did not realize she was standing in the presence of the One who deals with the here and now. She had not caught on to Jesus Christ being the answer to every need of the human heart. Deeply moved, He asked, “Where have you laid him?” The women led him to the tomb, where He said, “Take away the stone.” Martha still did not believe and voiced a concern about the odour, but every act of God is precipitated by an act of obedience, and Martha had the stone rolled away.
Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The onus was now on Lazarus, who could do one of two things. He could respond to Jesus, get up and walk out, or he could remain in the tomb. John 11:44 very simply says, “The dead man came out.” “Take off the grave clothes,” Jesus said. “Loose him and let him go.”
Jesus delayed His coming, not so the people would see a miracle, but that the miracle would point to Him. He said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” It is when we come in humility to Jesus, rolling the stone away, exposing our failures, anxieties, sin—all the grave clothes that have bound us, sometimes for years—that Jesus loosens them. Many believed in Him that day and were saved. The work of Jesus is to save, but He does not wait until it is time for heaven. His work begins the moment we believe.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, my prayer is for everyone who has not come to You yet. Draw them by your Spirit, Lord, and speak to their hearts.