John 11:38-44 (NIV)
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 believed, you would 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.”
The moment had come for Jesus to demonstrate His complete mastery over death. He knew exactly what the Father had in mind for Him to do, so there was no hesitation, no second-guessing, and no fear that “it might not work.” He came to the tomb, and immediately commanded that the stone be rolled away from the entrance.
Jesus had not directly told anyone what He intended to do, so his command initially sparked controversy. If His intent was to go into the tomb to see Lazarus’ body, that was a really bad idea. Lazarus had been dead for four days, so decay would definitely have set in by then; the smell would be terrible.
But rather than back off, Jesus simply looked Martha in the eyes and confronted her lack of faith in Him to do what He claimed the authority to do. In Martha’s defense, Jesus was taking them all into uncharted waters. The greatest miracle workers in history had never raised someone from the dead after four days. And up to that point, even the people Jesus Himself had raised had died earlier on the same day.
But Martha wavered only a moment. She really did trust Jesus. She even trusted Him enough to follow Him into a place no one had ever gone before. She nodded her head to a few young men, and they pushed and pulled until the stone was clear of the mouth of the tomb.
Jesu’s prayer is a perfect model for those who follow God’s will on a day-to-day basis. Raising Lazarus was not Jesus’ idea, one that He had to persuade the Father to do for Him. So, there was no begging or pleading for the miracle to take place; the Father had already told Jesus that that was what He intended to do. The prayer simply glorifies God for what He was at that moment in the process of accomplishing. And it glorifies Jesus. The only reason that Jesus prayed, and prayed aloud, was to show the crowd that He was working in God’s name to do this amazing sign.
Then Jesus called out words that shocked everyone who was standing there: “Lazarus, come out!” The people looked at each other in stunned disbelief. What was going on here? What was Jesus trying to do? But then, a flash of white at the mouth of the tomb attracted their attention, and they gasped in amazement as they realized that it was Lazarus, wrapped in a linen shroud, shuffling to the door of the tomb.
For a moment, everything seemed frozen in time. Nobody moved. After the initial collective gasp, nobody was even breathing. Then Jesus broke the silence with His command to unwrap the formerly dead man, which was immediately obeyed. In that moment, all the grief was completely forgotten, entirely swallowed up in rejoicing.
Father, this clearly illustrates the point that, when Jesus shows up, everything changes. Nothing is impossible, nothing out of bounds. And those who, in faith, work with Him will never be the same as they see Your full glory revealed through life-changing, life-restoring miracles. Thank You for the miracles You have done in my life, and that You have let me be a part of. I praise You, Lord! Amen.