Joy at the Tomb
Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was dying. And still Jesus did not come to their home in Bethany. their neighbours could not understand this, for Jesus and Lazarus were very close friends. Already people who spoke in scorn of Jesus, saying that if He really loved Lazarus, He, the Wonder-Worker, would now save him from death.
Mary and Martha had sent a message to Jesus telling Him about Lazarus. They could not imagine why He did not come, but still they did not lose their trust in Him.
Jesus had sent their message that puzzled them. This was His answer: “This sickness has not been sent in order to end the life of Lazarus, but in order that the Son of God may be glorified.”
They did not understand these words. And at last Lazarus died. His body was wrapped in grave clothes and buried.
Four days afterward, Mary was sitting in the house grieving for her brother and wondering what Jesus’ message had meant. Suddenly she heard Martha calling her.
“Mary, Mary,” cried Martha in excitement, “the Master is here and He has asked for you!”
Quickly Mary ran outside. She loved Jesus so much in spite of her sorrow she was happy at the thought of seeing Him again. Together the sisters hurried to where Jesus and His Apostles were waiting for them. He had already talked with Martha. Now Mary ran to Him and fell at His feet.
“Master,” she said, as her tears fell, “if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus was deeply touched. He loves us so dearly that our sorrows move His Sacred Heart as though they were His own.
“Where have you laid him?” He asked gently.
“Come, Lord, we will show You,” both sisters answered together.
Jesus had permitted Lazarus to die in order to did in order to fulfill His own divine plans for teaching men. But Lazarus had been His dear friend and He felt grief for his death. Now as they walked toward Lazarus’ grave, followed by a wondering crowd, Jesus wept.
The grave, like most of those belonging to the wealthier Jews, was a chamber of rock closed by a large stone. Jesus asked the men in the crowd to remove this stone.
“But Lord,” said Martha, “Lazarus has been dead four days. His body is already decaying.”
“Have I not told you,” Jesus asked patiently, “that if you will only believe, you shall behold the glory of God?”
The Apostles and some of the bystanders were straining against the heave stone. At last it moved–the grave was open.
Stepping forward, Jesus prayed to His Father:
“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always hear Me; but because of the people who are here, I speak aloud, so that they may believe that You have sent Me.”
The people hardly breathed. Even those in the crowd who hated Jesus were mute now. And amid this silence, Lazarus walked out of his grave.
Now Mary and Martha understood the message of Jesus. The sickness of Lazarus had not been sent to end Lazarus’ life; it had been sent to show the divine power of the Son of God. They stood spellbound with joy and awe.
Lazarus, wrapped round and round in the bandages with which the Jews clothed their dead, could barely walk. Yet all who stood there were so filled with wonder that no one made a move to help him. Jesus Himself finally turned to Mary and Martha and told them to unbind their brother.
The spell which the miracle had cast over the bystanders was broken by Jesus’ words. They began milling about and speaking in intense excitement about what they had just seen.
Mary and Martha flew immediately to Lazarus and, with joyful fingers, began unwinding the strips of linen they had so sorrowfully arranged just four days before.
As soon as he was freed, Lazarus saw Jesus. Taking the hands of his sisters, he went and knelt down with them to thank God at the feet of their Friend and Saviour.
And during the thirty more years of life that were given him, Lazarus continued