God, Do You Have Something Better?
I am wanting Jesus to come and intervene in the situation with my family. The vision I have is that my relationship with my wife is healed and that we get back together and that I am happy with my wife and then my daughter back in a relationship with me. When reading the story of Lazarus, I am challenged to think about the danger of restricting God to doing something I think is best, and not trusting Him that there might be something better. Let's have a look at the story of Lazarus and see what Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to do, and the amazing miracle He did and the effect it had not only on them but the whole world at the time.
1. Jesus had a bigger vision – When Mary, who anointed Jesus' feet with fragrant oil knew Lazarus was going to die, she sent someone to go to Jesus and said that “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Jesus did love Mary, Martha and Lazarus, but instead of coming straight away, he stayed where he was for two more days. Instead of running back and doing what everyone expected, He said something quite surprising. Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
2. Nobody understood what Jesus was doing – After two days Jesus then started in the direction of Judea where Mary, Martha and Lazarus were. He said things to them that they did not understand, and yet afterwards when we read the account of what happened we can see what Jesus is saying. Jesus said “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that, He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
What was interesting is that each person thought they knew what was going to happen. Lazarus was dead, Jesus was heading to the place where people wanted to kill him and the people mourning knew that Jesus was too late to do anything. Thomas said , “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” He believed this would end in the death of Jesus and the disciples.
3. Martha does not understand but through her pain, she still trusts Jesus – When Jesus arrives at Mary and Martha's home, Jesus was met by Martha. This exchange was one of sadness, intense emotion and a display of trust in Jesus based on what Martha knew. The exchange between Martha and Jesus is one that really highlights her strong belief in Jesus, but her mind was limited by what she knew. Jesus was going to blow this out of the water and reveal something that would throw everybody. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
4. Jesus felt their pain - Even though He knew what happened He was greatly affected by the death of Lazarus and the pain of His friends. In verse 35 we read Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” Even when Jesus knows something great is about to happen, he still feels and identifies with our pain and grief.
5. Something Greater Happened – Instead of doing what everyone expected, Jesus used the situation to reveal who He was. Through the resurrection of Lazarus Jesus was able to reveal He was the Messiah who had power over death. 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone [d]from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
6. Do Not Limit God – We are so caught up with what we know and what we understand that in our prayers and expectations we can limit God and the blessing that He wanted to do in this situation. Jesus did not act in the time they wanted Him to and He did not heal Lazarus as they wanted Jesus to. Instead, Jesus had a greater plan for Lazarus. He would be the person through whom Jesus revealed to everyone who He really was. They expected a healing but Jesus, through resurrecting Lazarus from the dead, brought a deeper understanding of who Jesus was to the world and prepared the way for many people to enter the Kingdom of God.
In this story, it is important that we ask Jesus to come and intervene in our situation. I want Jesus to bring back my family and restore our relationship. I want a quick fix, but Jesus is wanting to do something greater. I want what I understand to be best, but I have to trust God that He might have something greater He wants to do in this situation. What He will do may have a huge impact on many people as they see what He does in my situation. I have to be like Martha and still trust in Him no matter what the situation looks like.
My encouragement is that you continue to pray and ask Jesus to intervene in your situation. Tell Him how you feel and what you would like Him to do. The difference is that we need to not be trapped by what we think should happen but allow Him to work in the situation to do something even greater than we expect. Trust Him that He feels your pain, is wanting to work but as God, He is able to do above and beyond what you could ever hope or imagine. What He does may have a greater impact on you and those around you than you would ever expect.
Give Jesus your situation, pray audacious prayers and look forward to exciting things. He may totally surprise you. Just remember that Jesus stayed away for two days before heading to Mary and Martha. It may take longer than you expect, but it will be worth it!