When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.'
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
The picture above doesn't do justice to Lazarus' tomb today. The entrance is off an extremely steep narrow road, and you descend down into a stone cave - there are many narrow steps that curl around into the darkness, eventually ending up deep underground. Its an amazing place, and gives you an idea of what a burial might have been like 2,000 years ago in Bethany.
John's Gospel calls miracles 'signs', and the raising of Lazarus is the ultimate sign of the Messiah's presence. We should note that surprisingly it is Martha who goes to find Jesus and not her sister Mary who had listened at Jesus' feet previously. Perhaps the most amazing thing is Martha's words when Jesus challenges her. She says, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world". She has no doubt that Jesus is who he says he is, and that even after four days in the tomb, he can bring Lazarus back to life.
Many of us have screamed and cried our prayers to God when someone is ill or dying, but as Spurgeon the great Baptist preacher once said:
'Prayers would be all the better if they were shorter — all the better if they did not so much declare our own will as declare our confidence in the good will of Christ. I like the omissions of Martha’s and Mary's prayer.” (Spurgeon)
Lord Jesus Christ,
may we trust that You
always have our good at heart,
and may our prayers reflect this trust.
We bring to You our concerns this day
and ask for Your help.
As a change, I have put a link here to a website that gives the history of the raising of Lazarus in artwork through the ages: