When have you grieved over the death of a loved one? Was it the burial of a grandparent? A dear friend? A spouse? Any death is hard to experience. We miss the person for whom we grieve. We remember the times we spent, the fun we had, and the love we shared. All this had some impact on our lives; and we miss them.
Lazarus was ill. Mary was so concerned that she sent a message to Jesus, letting him know that her brother was ill. But rather than dropping whatever he was doing, Jesus waits and reasons that, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
We can imagine the frustration and anger that Mary and Martha experienced over Jesus’ seemingly dismissive response to Lazarus’ illness; that ultimately led to his death. Yet, eventually, they come to a place where they acknowledge that, though their brother is dead, God will give Jesus whatever Jesus asks of God. That is an amazing statement of faith in God’s power of life over death.
While she is assured that her brother will be resurrected on the last day. Jesus acknowledges, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
The death of Lazarus and his subsequent burial seems to be a harbinger of what would be the greatest event in history, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus’s words remind us that those promises remain steadfast. Life will triumph over death.
Jesus went to Lazarus’s tomb, prayed to God, and then called for Lazarus to come out of the tomb. He came out from the grave. This story foreshadows the events that we celebrate at Easter. This triumph reminds us that the worst thing that happens is never the last thing that happens. God speaks the last words and they are words of hope over despair, healing over illness, community over isolation, love conquering hate, and life over death.
This is a story of hope. As we reflect on the places in our lives where we may feel despair, remember that we are always in the presence of God’s Spirit and God’s hope.