I love the story about Lazarus in the Bible. You know it, don’t you?
Lazarus died. Word came to Jesus. Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were good friends of Jesus. They had seen him heal the sick. Lepers had been cured. The dead had been raised. So they knew that if Jesus could get there, Lazarus could be healed. Instead, Jesus held off. He waited.
And Lazarus died.
Jesus waited a bit longer. Then he looked at the disciples and said, “Let’s go.” He arrived on the scene after Lazarus had been buried. He had been in the tomb for four days. He was troubled by the condition everyone was in. So, he said to show him the tomb.
What did Jesus do? He said to roll the tomb away. Imagine what they were thinking. The smell coming from the tomb would be horrible. But they did it. They did as Jesus said. They rolled the stone away.
What did Jesus do? He said, “Lazarus, come forth.”
And Lazarus came forth. And God was glorified.
Let me tell you what Lazarus didn’t do.
Lazarus did not say to himself, “I’m pretty comfortable with my situation right now. I think I’ll stay here a while until Jesus comes back some other time.”
Lazarus did not say, “I’m ok being dead. I’ll just stay where I’m at. I don’t need to come forth.”
Lazarus came alive and came out of the tomb.
Because Jesus commanded him to come alive and come forth.
Before Christ, you and I were dead in our trespasses and sins. We were stone cold dead. It was as if we were drowned on the bottom of a lake. Jesus dove into the water, swam to the bottom where we were and pulled us out. He breathed new life into us.
He didn’t ask us if we wanted to be rescued.
He didn’t ask us if wanted to be saved.
He didn’t ask us if we wanted to live.
He made us alive.
We don’t have the ability to save ourselves. Dead people can’t make choices on whether to live. Only God can make that choice. He rescues who He rescues. He makes alive who He makes alive. Christ didn’t tell the entire cemetery to come forth. Only Lazarus.
Are you and I more powerful than Lazarus?
For the past four years, I’ve been slowly winding my way through the gospel of John. Occasionally, I go back to a particular story and think about it.
It’s the story of Lazarus’ being brought back from the dead. Jesus waits a few days before he makes His way to Bethany, where Lazarus and his family lived. Lazarus’ family happened to be Mary and Martha. And I think this story is the moment of change in Martha’s life.
Let’s change our location for a minute. Let’s head over to the gospel of Luke. You might remember that in Luke 10, Jesus goes to the home of Mary and Martha. Martha is busy making sure everything is ready and prepared for the meal. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. Martha is put out a bit with Mary because she won’t help. Jesus takes Martha to task for her poor attitude.
Now, let’s go back over to John. Check out John 12. A dinner is being held at the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Most people focus on the fact Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume. I think this was a pure moment of worship. Mary may have one of the best understandings of who Jesus is at this point.
What I have often missed, though, was what Martha was doing.
Martha was serving. She was doing much of what she was doing in Luke 10. However, there was a difference.
Martha was serving. No fussing. No fretting. Just serving.
Her heart had changed. She had witnessed the miracle of her brother being resurrected. She had seen the power of Jesus in an incredibly personal way.
Her Martha heart had changed to a Mary heart.
Her serving to satisfy herself had changed to serving for her Lord.
A working Martha had gained a Mary heart.
That makes all the difference in the world.
Do you have a Mary heart?