“We thank you for visiting, Jesus.” But when he tells them to take
away the stone, Martha replies, “It’s been four days; we must accept
Jesus says to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (v. 40). So they roll the stone away. Jesus directs his words to God: “We’ve got a crowd of people here. Show them that you sent me.” Then Jesus reveals that his voice can wake the dead.
This sign will be Jesus’ calling card. Dead men walking, Jesus and
Lazarus are inextricably linked. Ironically, Lazarus emerging alive
from the tomb expedites Jesus’ execution. The Romans meted out
corporal punishment and refused to allow the Jewish authorities to
do so. Jesus’ handling of death in the face of a death-dealing empire
will make him a marked man because you can’t control a people who
no longer fear death.
William Willimon writes in Why Jesus?, “The authorities had a monopoly on who gets life and who doesn’t. They couldn’t have some uneducated conjurer running around loose, implying that there is a power available that’s as strong as the American Medical Association.” They couldn’t match Jesus, their competition.
Death is big business, both the fear of it and the experience. In
Jesus’ day, no healthcare system is in place, so the people relied on
the priest for a prescription. Willimon says it read, “Take two doves,
have them properly sacrificed at the temple’s high altar, and call me
in the morning.” Always follow the money.
Jesus is doing more than comforting a grieving family. He is also
upsetting systems of money and power, both religious and political.
Jesus is inviting us to experience life more abundantly, and Lazarus is
the poster child for what this means.
What stones are in my way?
God, remove the stone that blocks my view of life more abundant. Amen.