Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
Therefore, the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of Man may be glorified through it.”— John 11:1-4
And the Jesus, it appears, is in no hurry to be glorified. Rather than head straight to Judea to lay hands on His friend and heal him, as Mary and Martha expected He would do, He waits a few days before going. In fact, He tells the disciples that Lazarus is already dead. “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe.”
As He approaches, Martha gets to Him and tells Him that Lazarus is, indeed, dead, and is now buried, and says, “If only You had come sooner, he would be alive.” Indeed, she later tells Him that Lazarus has been dead for so long, “he stinketh” (John 11:39 KJV).
He tells her that God is going to be glorified in this, if only she will believe. She replies, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
So Jesus goes to the tomb and sees that they have rolled a stone in front of the entrance.
Jesus wept.— John 11:35
Some who were there thought that He wept because His friend was dead and He was too late to save him. I believe He wept for the same reason people break down, crying, when they are touched by — “slain in” — the Holy Spirit, because at that point, the Holy Spirit would have been welling up inside Jesus, turned up “all the way to 11”, as He was about to manifest His glory at last.
He tells people to roll away the stone, and bellows, “Lazarus, come forth!”
And out walks Lazarus.
You could almost run a checklist of the signs we’re seeing today: events that Jesus says will come just before He returns. He foretold everything from terrorism (rumors of war) to tribalism and identity-conflict (nation rising against nation) to incurable, deadly diseases to famines to unusually severe storms to earthquakes in diverse places. You could say that our world is sick, the way Lazarus was sick.
But wait! Jesus says “the sickness is not unto death”.
Jesus also says, of the signs, “the end is not yet” and “these are the beginnings of sorrows”.
Does that mean our world is going to be laid in the tomb, with a stone rolled over the entrance, and Jesus is waiting until we stink to high heaven (literally)?
Where is Jesus?
I believe He is standing outside the tomb now, weeping, waiting for the Father to send Him the “go-code” to order us to roll away the stone, at which point the trumpet will sound and He will cry out, “World! Come forth!”
And in the meantime?
In the meantime, we have to declare, as Martha did, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who is to return to the world. We have to declare it so as many people as possible will hear it and turn to Him. And we have to keep believing, so that we will be the ones He orders to roll away the stone: that we will not be stuck in the tomb ourselves, but witness the glory of God manifest.
We are blessed to be living in this time. Jesus spoke of how the prophets and patriarchs had longed to see what the disciples were seeing in their time; so it is in our time, as we get to see events that Jesus foretold, and we know what comes next.