Posts Tagged ‘Lazarus’

John the Apostle is refered to several times as the “disciple Jesus loved”. John was probably a relatively young teenager during Jesus’ ministry and the fondness that Jesus showed him was one of the reasons the nickname stuck. I’ve noticed a family in the scripture who may earn a similar moniker – the siblings Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. They are mentioned several times as hosts for Jesus and they play a prominent role in one of Jesus’ most amazing demonstrations of His deity and God’s power. Nearing the end of His time on earth Jesus raises His good friend Lazarus after He has been dead for four days. Let’s take a look at this family a little closer.

We first read of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:35 when Jesus stops by and teaches in their home.  Martha, the frantic hostess, is busy bustling around making all manner of preparations for the gathered crowd while sister Mary sits at Jesus’s feet soaking up His teaching.  Martha is gently rebuked as she requests Jesus to tell her sister to join her in the preparations for the men.  Instead Jesus tells Martha to relax and that Mary has chosen the most important thing… sitting at Jesus feet and hearing the words of life that He is sharing. 

The second time we meet this family is in John 11 when the brother Lazarus dies.  The beginning of this particular story always intrigues me.  Jesus is informed that Lazarus is ill and near to death and yet He waits 2 more days before leaving.  As many of the persons around Him knew, Jesus had healed so many sick persons that undoubtedly He could heal a sick Lazarus.  Yet Jesus waited.  Now if it was anyone but Jesus I would be tempted to say He hesitated  trying to figure out what to do.  But Jesus didn’t hesitate.  He is always right on time.  He is never late nor is He ever too early.  By waiting Jesus arrives after Lazarus has been dead for 4 days.  In this story we see how deeply Jesus is moved by the emotions He has for this family.  His love for them shows as He weeps with Martha and Mary over their loss even though He knows He will soon raise Lazarus and restore him to his family.  Hopefully I will get a chance to unpack this story more at a later date since it is so rich and full of messages for us.  Today I have something else to share.

The last time we see this family distinctly is in John 12.  It is only 6 days before Jesus’ crucifixion although no one but Jesus is aware of His imminent passion.  Jesus is in the home with the family again in Bethany which is 2 miles from Jerusalem.  While He is reclining at the table Mary takes a very expensive jar of nard, a perfume with which she anoints Jesus’ feet.  She then wipes His feet with her hair.  This creates  a stir.  Some are indignant because the value of the nard could be used to feed the poor.  I am sure others are simply shocked by the unadulterated display of love and submission Mary made.  At the very least I would say the situation is awkward and uncomfortable for the majority.  Yet Jesus again steps in to Mary’s defense.  He sees the deeper meaning in what she is doing.  Without realizing why, Mary has responded to the prompting within and has anointed Jesus for burial.

While these are three specific times we see Jesus with this family, I am sure there are plenty of other times they shared time together.  The closeness we see between the Lord and Lazarus, Mary, and Martha is a picture of what the Lord desires for every family.  The Lord loves them as unique people and He relates to them right where they are.  The only rebuke He gives this family is the gently given rebuke to Martha when she asks the Lord to scold Mary for not helping her.  (Boy does that one hit me square between the eyes.)   Jesus’ love for each one is clear in the emotions He demonstrates and the time He spends with them.

It is my firm belief that Jesus’ plan of redemption flows through the family.  Even before the Church, God values family.  When He transforms a life through His love and the power of His Holy Spirit, the first people God will touch is our family.  If there are broken and damaged relationships then God, who has called us to be ministers of reconciliation, will guide us to share His love in tangible ways to heal those relationships.  If there are estranged members of the family then God will put in us the desire to pray and seek out those that are lost.  Where there is stress and worry, the Lord will ask us to minister His peace.  Where there is doubt we are to consistently trust and allow Him to build faith within us that is visible to our family. 

A quick word of warning from my experience and that of others.  There are plenty of wrong ways to go about convincing others of truth.  Jesus never bullied people.  A living faith is not based upon a forced conversion.  The Holy Spirit is a gentlemen and He does not force people against their will.  However the Holy Spirit is God and He knows us intimately.  Because He loves us and desires us to live in relationship with Him, He is able to bring us to the point of decision using our intellect, our emotions, or the  combination of all we are.  As believing family members reaching out within our family we must simply seek to work in concert with the Holy Spirit to reach them.  It is God’s desire that they know Him even more than we desire it.  Our prayer and our obedience are primary tools God will use.  The plan and timing are His though. 

We’ve looked at a family in the bible that Jesus clearly loved.  He was engaged with them individually and as a family.  They are an example to us of how He wants to relate to us as well… as individuals and as an entire family committed to Him.

Walk in the power of His resurrection life and be a blessing today!

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