In your misery and loneliness, do you think Jesus is emotionally detached? That He just doesn't care? Or that He's simply too busy to notice? Or that He is callous because He sees a lot of pain that's worse than yours? Or that He couldn't possibly understand how you feel?
Do you know that Jesus weeps with you? Do you know He puts all your tears in a bottle because they are precious to Him? He has said in all of your afflictions, He Himself is afflicted. Why? Because Jesus does understand! And He loves you!
Those who had gathered to support and comfort and help the family of Lazarus observed the famous young Rabbi weeping and concluded, "'See how he loved him!'" (v. 36). Even though Jesus knew the glory to come and the demonstration of God's power that was about to be displayed, He wept!
He wept because He loved this precious family and they were weeping. Jesus was entering into their suffering, just as many of us entered into His when we repented of our sin, died to ourselves and received Him by faith.
The story of Lazarus is the account of perhaps the most magnificent miracle Jesus performed while on Earth. But it is really the story of Martha's faith--and the necessity of placing our faith in Jesus alone if we are to live life triumphantly and experience the greatest miracle of all, that of passing from spiritual death to eternal life as we are born again into the family of God.
Surrounded by a crowd of friends, family and just curious onlookers, Jesus gazed at the scene before Him. I expect Mary and Martha followed His focus, which was fixed on the cave carved out of the hillside that served as Lazarus' burial place. A large stone sealed off the entrance to the tomb.
Martha was jolted out of any grief-filled reverie that preoccupied her thoughts when she heard His familiar voice command quietly but with absolute authority, "Take away the stone" (v. 39). Nothing could have been more appalling to her!
It seemed as if reopening Lazarus' tomb would serve no purpose except to reopen the fresh wound of her heart. How could Jesus say such a thing? How could He even think such a thing?
Martha, with what surely was a look of horrified indignation on her face, blurted out, "But Lord ... by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days" (v. 39).
Jesus turned His full gaze onto Martha with a look that melted her resistance and silenced her argument. With patient firmness, He challenged her not only to obedience but also to expectant faith: "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (v. 40).
Something in Martha must have quickened as she saw the intensity in the Lord's eyes. She knew this was no longer the time to talk about it or pray about it or think about it.
The spark of faith was suddenly fanned into flame, and without further question or word, she just did it! She ordered the stone to be rolled away. Simply because He said so. Her obedience, her dependence and her expectance were in Him alone. He was all she had.
With every eye fastened on Him, Jesus boldly, loudly lifted His voice as He prayed: "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" (vv. 41-42). Jesus was letting everyone know that if Lazarus was raised, the power to make it happen came from God.
Then...the same voice that had brought the world into being, the same voice that had called Abraham from Ur, the same voice that had reverberated from Mount Sinai, that same voice thundered, "Lazarus, come out!" (v. 43). The voice of the Creator was commanding into existence that which had no existence!
Every eye must have strained toward the cave, peering into the black hole where the stone had been. And then, out of the deep, shadowy recesses within, there appeared a mummy-like figure "wrapped with strips of linen, and [with] a cloth around his face" (v. 44).
Was there a collective gasp? Or was everyone frozen into place, temporarily paralyzed by the shock of seeing something that just couldn't be?
Dead men don't come back to life! But Lazarus did! At the command of the One who is the Resurrection and the Life, he appeared at the entrance of the tomb.
After all the pain and suffering and anguish and doubt and resentment and misunderstanding and tears, God had answered the sisters' unspoken prayer. Although Jesus had not come when they thought He would, He had restored Lazarus to health.
In His own time and in His own way, God answered abundantly beyond what they could have thought to ask for—beyond their wildest dreams. Their brother was raised from the dead!