Monday, April 11, 2011

The Mystery of Lazarus

Part one of this story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

We don't know much about him.

We know he had two sisters.

We know he lived in a little town about two miles away from Jerusalem.

We know he was well-connected to Israel's leaders. (More on that later.)

We know he played host to Jesus and His disciples at his home.

But other than that ... there isn't much to go on about the man named Lazarus.

Except for one thing, and it actually holds the key to the entire mystery of who Lazarus was. It's just one line in John 11:3.

"Lord, the one you love is sick."

The one He loves.

Do you notice what's lacking in that statement? How about this?

"Lord, the one you love is sick, and we need you to heal him."

Or this?

"Lord, the one you love is sick, and we don't want him to die. It wouldn't be fair."

Or this?

"Lord, the one you love is sick. You've healed so many other people. He's your good friend. If anyone deserves to be healed more than anyone else, you know he does."

There's no expectation in that statement. It just is. It just hangs there, saying everything in seven words.

"Lord, the one you love is sick."

When you know someone well -- really well -- not much has to be said, does it? Ever visit someone in the hospital who you know well versus someone you don't know well at all? I have. There's a huge difference in the dynamic. When I don't know someone well, I find that a lot of words pass between people. A lot of explanation is given. A lot of pleasantries between family members occur. A lot of, "Thanks for coming," is offered, and a lot of polite nods and smiles are exchanged.

When I visit someone I know well -- a very good friend -- there isn't much of a need for any of that. The one I love is sick. Nothing else has to be said. The one I love is sick. I just am there. I just am present. I just am available, whether the family wants to talk, or the family wants to be silent. I am sensitive to whether the friend can take conversation or just needs a whispered prayer and then to be left quickly to rest. There is no pretense, no blustering, no overtures.

The one I love is sick. It's just enough for me to know it and be there with them.

"Lord, the one you love is sick."

When the sisters of Lazarus sent that message, they didn't need to say anything else. They and their brother were so close to Jesus -- so close -- that they knew He'd know what to do. They didn't demand anything. They didn't request anything. They just trusted Him with the information.

And in those seven words, we know more about Lazarus than any archaeological dig could tell us.

We know Jesus loved him, that they were very good friends. That alone should have set the stage for Jesus to rush to Lazarus's bedside, to comfort the women, to speak words of healing and make all right as rain again.

But it didn't happen.

Jesus stayed put, right where He was.

Lazarus died.

And to Mary and Martha, the silence must have been worse than their brother's death.

Jesus didn't respond.

Jesus didn't come to them.

The one Jesus loved had died.

And Jesus wasn't even there.

What would you have felt?

Tune in for part 2 of the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness."

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