The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from his tomb is familiar to students of the Bible. So it is always such a joy to find something new in it. Today I am thinking about how thoroughly Jesus prayed before he called Lazarus forth.
Lazarus had been sick and died. He was tended by his two sisters, Mary and Martha. They had sent word to Jesus telling him of this serious condition. Jesus did not immediately rush to Bethany. He saw that this illness could not take Lazarus' life. Perhaps he even realized that raising him up again would foreshadow his own approaching crucifixion and resurrection. He had already raised a young girl from death and halted a funeral procession to restore a young man to his widowed mother. He knew this event was for the glory of God. So he tarried for two days before journeying to Bethany. His disciples questioned his delay and he tells them "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. They think sleep might be just what he needs to recover, but he then tells them plainly that Lazarus is dead. He continues, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that you may believe; nevertheless, let us go to him."
When he arrives he tells Martha, who had said that if Jesus had been there her brother would not have died, that her brother will rise again. He assures her that he is the resurrection and the life. Those that believe in him, though they seem dead, yet shall live.
Sister Mary is prostrate with grief. He is deeply moved by her distress and asks where they have lain him. I wrote an article about that very question years ago. You can find it on the Journal, Sentinel, Herald site. It is a question to be considered. But what I saw this morning is something else.
Lazarus had been in the grave four days and Martha was concerned that he had already begun to decompose. Along with seeing that disease could not take man's life, Jesus had to handle the belief that man is material and the matter can spoil and rot.
When he calls Lazarus forth, wrapped head to toe in cloth, Lazarus comes forth whole and complete. There is no sign of any illness or any lasting effect from being buried for four days. Jesus will make this demonstration himself following his own ordeal and supposed death. He will walk forth from his resting place with no ill effects from the 39 lashes, the spear wound in his side or the nail punctures on his hands and feet. He will not have suffocated from lack of air or become faint without food or water.
Lazarus was intact when he came forth. That is something well worth pondering as we pray and work our way through our own challenges. If it was not part of God's creating, not caused by divine Love, it was never real and there could be not effects from any other cause. Only good being expressed.
Lazarus was intact and so are we. The same Christ is present today. Where have you lain, placed yourself? Rise up whole and free! Your relationship to God as His very own child, His image and likeness is undisturbed.