C.F. Leach|Longreads|March 2019|8 minutes (2,520 words)
At times, we feel our lives are completely finished. Some folks say, “There are more years behind me than in front of me”. We think our lives are finished and we are dead to everything around us. We are dead in a tomb of out of time failures and repeated disappointments. Some of us feel that even our futures are dead to us because of past mistakes, but….
At the beginning of Chapter Eleven of John, the Apostle makes express significance to the personal relationship Jesus had with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. The sisters send word to Jesus that Lazarus, “he whom thou lovest,” is ill. When Jesus first heard the news about Lazarus’ sickness, he was not in a hurry because he knew he would do a great miracle for God’s glory. He tells the disciples, “This sickness is not unto death…” Two days later, as they are on their way to Bethany….He tells them, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may wake him out of his sleep”. The disciples did not understand what He meant; which caused some controversy. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him”.
Can you imagine their thoughts? This is Jesus, who has much compassion for the people, performs all sorts of miracles and commands a storm still just by his words. Yet of “he whom thou lovest,” he says he is dead and I am glad? Many of us have felt if he loves me, what’s taking Him so long to come—did He not hear my prayers or does He really know how bad I’m hurting? Sometimes it feels like an eternity, but God is eternal, for Him time has no beginning or end. He is Alpha and Omega. Therefore, he can step out of eternity at any given moment and turn your mess into a miracle.
Yes, Christ was happy He was not there when Lazarus died. Had He been there, He would have healed him. Now He must go to Bethany and perform an irrefutable miracle to increase not only the faith of his disciples, but all of those in his hearing. In so doing, for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Jesus will meet us wherever we are, it does not matter—as long as we seek Him with great expectation. Martha tells Jesus, “If you’d been here my brother would not have died”. Is there some part of your life that is dead because Jesus was not part of the equation? If you are believing God to restore that part of your life—what do you do? The answer lies in the revelation it does not matter when Jesus comes so long as He shows up! When you see Jesus, you are in the presence of God. You have to hold on and believe; like Abraham—hope against hope. (Romans 4:18)
Martha got the revelation; in the next verse she says…..” But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” She still believes in Him—after all that had happened–despite the unfavorable outcome. Can we echo those same words of faith in spite of what we see or how we feel? There is still a ‘But my God’ amid this situation. Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die”. (Side Bar: The same Word that was with God in the beginning now speaks to Martha and reveals himself as Jehovah Shammah.) Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Again, Jesus challenges her not to be logical or analytical, but to believe the living Word of God. In attesting to His being the Resurrection, Jesus now signifies His power and authority to give eternal life right now. Not in the future, but right now! Do you believe this particular truth, which is superimposed over your difficulties? Can you gather the faith to belief whatever dead situation you are in God can resurrect it right now? We so oftentimes believe for others—-why is it so hard to believe for ourselves? God is no respecter of persons. How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands. (Job 34:19) What He does for one He does for all.
Verse 28 reads….And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, “The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him….falling at His feet –saying with many tears, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Similar words her sister spoke are now reverberated. This is the same Mary who’d sat at Jesus’ feet to hear his words, (Luke 10:39) and is here again, on another assignment. Mary’s actions were more powerful than words. When we give honor to the Word in times of joy, we may find grace and mercy from the Word in our times of trouble.
Jesus heard Mary’s tears and felt the mourners’ sorrows. This troubled His spirit so He asks where they laid him. It wasn’t that He did not know where Lazarus was, but by inquiring, it did not make him look suspect to the bystanders. The unknown and mysterious are always under scrutiny by the shadows of unbelief. Lazarus’ resurrection had to be incontestable.
Right here you are positioned to receive a ridiculous blessing. Therefore, the LORD allows the odds to be so stacked against you that it looks utterly impossible for you to come out. It is all in perception. Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27) There is nothing unexpected that can arise to hinder the fulfillment of God’s promises over your life; for He is the precursor of all things. He’s never made a promise he did not keep—He created covenant.
Jesus wept. Jesus was God in the form of a man. He was a man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3) He felt what they felt and He feels what you feel!
Now at the tomb, Jesus commanded them to take away the stone. What stone keeps you from coming out of your dead situation? Is it the stone of unforgiveness, pride, self-condemnation, guilt, low self-esteem or fear? What hindrance do you need the spirit of the living God to remove so you no longer lie in that same tomb of past failures and disappointments? The conditions of your life may appear to have been dead for many days, weeks, months or even years. And everything about it really stinks! However, just as Jesus knew where Lazarus would be, He knows exactly where you are now. At this point, you are oblivious because you are in a tomb of such hopelessness and despair. Just know the same ‘I AM’ who revealed Himself to Moses is on His way to bring you out! (Exodus 3:14)
The LORD then prayed and thanked God in advance, for hearing Him because Jesus knows God always hears his prayers. He prayed, for the benefit of those present, so they would believe that God sent Him. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. You are not supposed to be in this tomb—God has removed the hindering stone from your life.
You have a purpose and a destiny to fulfill. He knows your name, has called you out of the darkness that kept you from being all you were meant to be in the kingdom of God. You have to come out! When you hear His voice do not let present circumstances harden your heart.
Jesus saith unto them, “Loose him, and let him go.” Lazarus now has new life and good health yet he is still bound; limited. Limited in movement and limited in sight. By being bound, Lazarus was still connected to the grave. Still wearing grave clothes he never realized he was wearing—Why, because he was dead when they were put on him. Many of us; even professing Christians, have been spiritually dead for so long we actually never realized when the grave clothes came upon us. Yes, we have received salvation, the Holy Spirit and some, even manifested power thereof, but still bound nonetheless. The grave clothes represent corruption that sinful desires bring into your life.
Like Lazarus, we’ve been walking around in grave clothes and napkins oblivious to our true condition. This is one of the reasons some of us have not yet reached our destinies; we are limited by invisible fetters and are spiritually blind. We need a wardrobe change and a new set of eyes! Simply said, we need holy discernment to recognize our condition giving us the power and authority to speak a right now Word enabling us to shed those grave clothes and open our eyes to the truth. That is exactly what Jesus sent forth—-a right now Word. “Loose him, and let him go.”
If you find yourself in this place, shake off the dust from the past and walk into the vision of your future. You must desert all negatives of your past in order for your vision to pull you into the Promise. The reason you possess this future is because it was built upon the predicate of God’s promises over your life. By knowing this, these promises make your faith possible. You might have been to the west end of hell and back, but while in hell God’s promises were still in your possession! The enemy could not take them because they dwell in the realm of the impossible, and you did not leave them behind because the God in you contains the spirit by which these promises become manifest. Which is exactly what happened to Lazarus, and it can also happen to you! You have to get David’s attitude, “ I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
Lazarus became a living epistle to the power and authority of God. By this miracle, many believed on Jesus and others ran to the religious authorities telling them what He had done. (John 11:45-46)
When we have a personal relationship with Jesus, there are no barriers too great for his power to extend in our lives, not even through space or time. His love goes beyond all circumstances of your life; it even transcends the grave. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoso believeth in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Christ had a personal relationship with a family of deep and abiding faith, yet He did not react immediately to their pending situation. Delayed, but not denied. ‘Not now’ does not mean forever—just a particular moment in time. In addition, because Jesus does not come when we think He should, does not mean He has not heard our prayers nor felt our pain. Wherever you are, He will meet you there.
If a particular area of your life is dead, there is a place of promotion you will not see without the resurrected power of Jesus Christ. In this place, your anointing is elevated. Therefore, you cannot allow the stone of discouragement to block your Word of promise. How can you do what God says if you cannot hear what He says? So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Yes, you have been waiting a long time. The fact of the matter is your promise is taking longer to happen; because there is a process, which occurs between the time you received the promise until the manifestation. This process is called the building of your faith and character. As God allows your faith to build, simultaneously, He removes everything that opposes truth and righteousness. Do not let go of your faith no matter how long it takes to hear a word from the Lord! Do not speak negatively or complain during this process as this will delay and sometimes close the door to your promise. Activate your faith with expectation. That’s what Martha did.
At some point in your life, God has already brought you out of an impending circumstance, but you could not see the glory of it because you continued holding on to that circumstance. However, in so doing you remained tied to the past. Just as Lot’s wife, you kept looking back, until the very thing from which you’d been delivered trapped you again. Now you are back in the cemetery–this time as a monument. Some monuments are beautiful but they have no life! Wasn’t total deliverance why you were waiting on God in the first place? Waiting on God takes patience. In the waiting is where God gives you the faith to believe the promise is still yours, no matter what the situation looks like.
Caleb waited on his promise for 45 years; yet some of us get frustrated if we have to wait 45 minutes! Moreover, he lived to see the fulfillment of that promise, even though he had to walk through the wilderness with non-believers! Why? Because he was of a different spirit. (Numbers 14:24) He still believed God, but in his test, he had to walk out his faith into his promise.
It is never too late for God. No matter how dead your situation may look, it’s not over yet…But my God… (Philippians 4: 19) Jesus had a word for Lazarus that happened at an appointed time, making it a ‘now’ word which activated the promise. Remember, God’s Word contains your provisions; no matter the circumstance. Then at the appointed time when you hear that word, you will see the revelation of it, and others will be astounded at what Jesus has done in your life!
From my upcoming book Understanding the Seasons of Your Destiny.
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