Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (
There is no place we can run to escape from death. The Bible says, "it is appointed unto man once to die but after this the judgment." Word comes to Jesus that Lazarus is struggling with deadly illness. Though He had the power to heal, Jesus restrained Himself from doing so in order for Lazarus to die! He tells His disciples that it will be for the glory of the Father and the grounding of their faith. Yet, the disciples were perplexed and Martha wonders why. Lazarus' sisters were broken-hearted. Their tears would give way to inexpressible joy, but not at first. Perhaps you are perplexed at God's ways of working in your life, or that of your loved ones. Let us cling to the hope expressed by the songwriter, "We'll understand it better by and by."
Jesus did not prevent the death of Lazarus, but He came to the sisters. He wept with them. He shared their sorrow. He will do the same for you. This is a story of tears and trials, but at the end, of triumph. This is God's promise to the child of God. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning!
Jesus described the death of Lazarus to his disciples as sleep. Why did Jesus liken death to sleep? For one thing, sleep is harmless. For the child of God, death should hold no terror for it cannot harm us. David said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." Sleep is not only harmless, but it is healthy. The Bible says, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth that they might find rest from their labors." The toil of life is over when we reach heaven. All that burdens us will be banished in the life to come. Sleep is also temporary. We go to bed at night with the expectation of rising in the morning. When a Christian dies, he goes to sleep in Jesus anticipating the resurrection.
Every funeral Jesus attended turned into a celebration. There was a personal summons issued to Lazarus. Someone has well said that the voice of Jesus carries such authority that had He simply said, "Come forth" every dead person would have risen. An hour is coming in which all the dead will hear that call. Our separation from loved ones is not permanent. There will be a reunion one day. Can you imagine the joy as Mary and Martha embraced the warm flesh of their brother whose body only hours before lay cold in the tomb? We anticipate the same rejoicing when we see those who have preceded us into heaven.
Lazarus was bound up in grave clothes and Jesus commanded that he be set free. Death for the child of God means liberty. Paul spoke of how we groan in this body, longing to be liberated, looking for that new body. In heaven, we shall be in a land of absolute freedom—free of sin, sorrow, sickness, suffering, and separation. This is the hope assured in that Christ is risen from the dead, and promises, “Because I live, you will live also.” (
John 14:19b) We exult with Paul, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” ( 1 Cor.15:55)