The Ultimate Recovery is Not Physical
The New Testament records the story of a man and his two sisters. The sisters send for Jesus because their brother is very sick. Jesus delays coming and his friend Lazarus dies. After a delay, which proves fatal to Lazarus, Jesus tells his disciples they are going to Judea. They are dismayed, as they knew the Jews had plans to kill Jesus. He plainly tells his disciples that “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples think this is the wrong approach. There is nothing helpful about being roused out of your sleep when you are sick. In fact, John 11:12 records their “common sense” view: “The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’”
“Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So, Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” John 11:14-16 They go expecting to see a dead Lazarus and their own potential physical deaths at the hands of the Jews.
The Resurrection (Ultimate Recovery)
What everyone needs is something more than recovery. Yes, it is wonderful to recuperate from a disease. It is amazing when a person suffering with cancer improves and becomes cancer free. It is great to see someone on death’s doorstep convalesce. But all of these are temporary stays. At some point my heart will stop beating and the tent I have been living in will collapse.
That is why the balance of the account about Lazarus is so amazing. It includes a promise from Jesus about the resurrection. In fact, he makes the audacious claim, “I am the resurrection and the life.” (11:25) Then we see that “Jesus wept.” (11:35) He has the mourners remove the stone from the grave. Jesus prays to God the Father. Then he does what no one else there can do. He speaks to a dead man: “Lazarus, come out.” He is specific. Lazarus! He shows his authority. Lazarus is reunited with his sisters. The funeral service like no other funeral service has been completed. Note this for certain: Jesus can rightly claim to be the resurrection and he established that in the sight of everyone at the funeral.
Sometimes we need to see death to wake us up. If all is well, we think we can do just fine on our own. Pleasures satisfy as a gift from God. But they will end. Sometimes we need a little pain to recognize what sin has done to us. But there is a Redeemer, a Savior, a water-walking Master who says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25-26: “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Whoever. Everyone who lives and believes. Let that sink in before it is too late.
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Five Minute Friday
This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up.
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.
I remember the first time I read Billy Graham’s quote, “Some day you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” It’s still powerful.
Lisa, FMF #28
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