Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lord, By This Time He Stinketh

In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, we're told that a short time before Jesus' death on the cross He and his disciples were teaching, preaching, and healing down by the Jordan river when word came to Him that his friend, Lazarus was sick. In fact the message was "He whom You love is sick" Jesus response was:
But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it." (John 11:4)
And He chose to stay in the Jeraco area for two full days. If you remember, Jesus was friends with and loved Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha  (if you didn't remember, we're reminded of that fact in John 11:5) but Jesus decided to stay by the river for two full days. To the casual observer it sounds a bit odd that He would do this, considering the love He had for Lazarus and his sisters. Finally Jesus said to His followers "let's us go to Judea again"

His disciples said 'the last time You were there they tried to stone You to death and now You want to go back?' but Jesus said 
"Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep." (John 11:11)
To which the disciples replied with 'well, if he's just sleeping then he'll be better.' You know, drink liquids and get plenty of rest. You can almost picture Jesus rolling His eyes and muttering a bit. But he told them:
14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him." (John 11:14-15)
To which Thomas (Doubting Thomas) who was plainly recalling the attempted murder of Jesus the last time He was in Jerusalem replied 'we might as well go and die with Him' (really! he really said that)

When they got to Bethany it was revealed that Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for four days. Now think about it - it takes a full day for the messenger to walk from Bethany to Jereco to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed two more days, then a full days walk back, that's four days in itself. This means that Lazarus was dead and in the tomb before Jesus got word that his dear friend was sick. There was really nothing Jesus could do when he was notified, Lazarus wasn't going to get any deader, so He decided to finish His ministry at Jereco before returning to Judea.

When Jesus and His disciples arrived in Bethany they found that there were lots mourners weeping for the loss of Lazarus. While Mary remained in the house with a crowd of mourners, Martha who was brokenhearted came out to meet Jesus and was a bit short with Him:
21 Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." (John 11:21-23)
Martha then told Mary to come out because Jesus had arrived. Mary left the throng of mourners and ran out to Jesus and threw herself at his feet saying “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." They led Jesus to Lazarus' tomb and Jesus was moved to tears. I'm believe that while some of those tears  were for pity for Mary and Martha, most were out of frustration. For three years He had been teaching, preaching, and healing throughout the holy land and His disciples just didn't get it. He walked on water, he fed thousands with just a few loafs of bread and some fish not once but twice, where ever Jesus goes demons run in terror, the lepers are cleansed, the blind see, the lame leap, the deaf hear but the twelve just didn't get it, not like Mary and Martha did. These women had Faith. They knew that Jesus could raise Lazarus. The rest, however, were acting in grief and despair. They didn't understand that the resurrection mentioned in scripture promised eternal life. 
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)
Jesus wasn't weeping for Lazarus, he was going to raise his friend from the dead, why would he weep for him? He was weeping for a fallen world entangled in sin-caused sorrow and death. He remembered Eden and how wonderful it was to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the shade before sin destroyed everything and he wept for what was lost. Isaiah described Jesus so sadly as:
He was despised and forsaken of men,
    A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
    And like one from whom men hide their face
    He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
(Isaiah 53:3)
Jesus ordered the stone moved from the tomb entrance and Martha voiced her objection to that:
Jesus said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days."(John 11:39)
Or in the vernacular of the King James version: "Lord, by this time he stinketh", which was true. It was spring in Bethany, it's getting pretty warm there. Even though Lazarus is covered in balms and perfumes and wrapped in linen like a mummy, he's going to smell pretty bad. It's quite obvious that Jesus is going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he's done it before, he raised Jairus' 12 year old daughter and he raised the widow of Nain's son, but Jairus daughter had just passed away within the hour or so, and the widow's son had passed away a few hours previous. Compared to them Lazarus was really dead. Really really dead. Elijah and Elisha both raised the dead, but both were similar to Jesus raising Jairus' daughter. Raising a four day old corpse that's been ripening in the tomb was really going to be something.
41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me." 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." (John 11:41-43)
And he came out! Ok, we're not talking all glorified like when Jesus rose from the grave himself, in fact it was more like Boris Karloff than anything. Lazarus was "bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth." so at best he hopped out rather than doing an awesome "check it out" stride, or even a fair to middlin' zombie lurch.

That's the last that scripture mentions Lazarus. There's lots of traditional accounts of what happened to Lazarus, it appears that he became very active, a bishop by some accounts, in the new Christian church after Jesus' resurrection, but then wouldn't you? (Go ahead and say Amen if you would) Many of the Jews that were on the scene believed, but some ran to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done, causing the Pharisees to gather the Council and plot against Him. 

This is the end of Jesus' public ministry. He remains with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary until it is time to enter Jerusalem and force the Pharisees to do something about him. This was His last miracle, it was the last chance for the Jews to see him doing His Father's works. However for us it shows that for God it's never too late. Just as Lazarus was raised from the dead, even after over half a week in the toomb, Jesus raised him. For us it's never too late to turn to Jesus. We're all dead in sin, but like Lazarus he will raise us, all we have to do is ask.

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