Dead Not Dead: Your Friend is Sick

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’ ” (John 11:1-3)

Spoiler alert! To really get all the heavy stuff in the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, you’ve got to know the ending before you start. But it’s right there in the name of the story, so it’s not a huge surprise. And you’ve probably heard it once or twice anyway.

deadnot_350Still, we’re going to spend a week or two getting to know it better. And the first thing we should get is this: Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. Okay, yes, Jesus loves everyone. But he was friends with this family. He often stayed at their place when he was in town. He seems to have liked them a lot.

And they liked Jesus, too. They knew about his miracles. They believed he was who he said he was. They knew he could heal sick people at will. They probably expected him to come and save their brother – before he died.

Think: If you are a Christian, you have a close relationship with God because you are “in Christ.” Do you ever expect him to answer your prayers in specific ways? Is it wrong to expect God to respond according to our desires? Why or why not?

Pray: Thank God for Jesus’ relationship with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Ask him to help you to understand him better through studying this story during the next week or so.

Do: John mentions Mary as one who washed Jesus feet with expensive perfume and her hair. Read that story in John 12:1-11.

Dead Not Dead: Waiting for God’s Glory

“When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:4-6)

Sometimes God waits. He doesn’t seem to be doing anything. The clock keeps ticking until its too late for him to answer our prayer the way we deeply hoped he would. Why? What is the problem? Did he not hear us?

deadnot_350Jesus got the message. He heard from the sisters that Lazarus was sick, and he caught the unspoken request: “Come and save him. Hurry.” And still he waited. He stalled for the glory of God.

We can be just as confident that God gets our messages, even when we’re not sure how to pray. Romans 8:26-27 describes how God uses his Spirit in us to perfectly deliver every message so that it arrives with his full understanding and even in step with his will. God doesn’t say no because his e-mail was down. He hears us. And he loves us just as much as Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

And, still, sometimes he waits or just says “no.” More tomorrow.

Think: Have you ever felt like God wasn’t hearing your prayer? Or like he didn’t care because he didn’t step in and answer as you hoped? How can you be confident that he hears and that he loves you even when he doesn’t respond the way you expect?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be confident that he is tuned into your requests and that he loves you deeply.

Do: If you haven’t recently, read Romans 8:26-28.