Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Martha hoped Jesus would come heal her brother. Mary hoped Jesus would come heal her brother. Their friends hoped Jesus would come heal their brother. But He didn’t. He showed up too late and Lazarus died. And He didn’t just show up a little late, He was four days late. Lazarus died and the funeral happened and Jesus wasn’t there. And everyone had this thought in the back of their head that Jesus had just forgotten them…
A popular Jewish belief was that the spirit hovered in and around the body for 3 days after death. Remember, Lazarus has been dead for 4 days before Jesus shows up and says, “Open the tomb!” Imagine the shock and offense the people who’ve been huddled together mourning for days would’ve felt when they heard this so-called “friend” demand to open the tomb. I can hear them now… “Jesus didn’t even come to the funeral.” “Who does Jesus think He is showing up after all the work’s done and walking around like He owns the place.” “He didn’t bring anything to the funeral dinner but I bet He’s gonna want to eat.”
Seriously, if Jesus wanted to do something, why didn’t He do it already, before all hope was lost? Why did He wait 4 days, when everyone knew there was a 3 day time limit on bringing dead people back to life? Actually, why did He wait for Lazarus to die when it obviously would’ve been easier to heal him than resurrect him?
Jesus waited because some things have to die before they can heal. Whether it’s a habit, an addiction, a relationship, or hidden thoughts, it needs to die before it can heal.
Lazarus spent days, weeks maybe, on a sickbed before he eventually died. Four days later, he walked out of a tomb healthier than he’d ever been, ready to live out the remaining years of his life. His sickness was gone. His pain was forgotten. His body wasn’t broken any longer. He died to be reborn.
What in your life needs to die? What needs to be buried and sealed away in a tomb so that Jesus can heal you? Maybe you’ve been waiting and waiting for Jesus to heal you and you’ve started questioning whether He really cares. You want to be different, but you catch yourself thinking the same old things and doing the same old junk. And at night you find yourself screaming, “WHY?!?”
Here’s the answer… You haven’t really died yet.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” You know where the old went? It got buried. Friend, it’s time to have a funeral…