LIFE AND DEATH! That term is used quite often concerning situations in life and often very glibly meaning simply just that something is important. This past summer those terms had real meaning in our family as situations concerning Millie’s health were life and death issues. I am sure many of you reading this have faced some of those moments in your own life. It is well when facing those issues that the eternal issues of life have already been settled; issues like where one will spend eternity.
In the Gospel of John chapter 11 we have such an event involving life and death taking place. Jesus had a special friend named Lazarus who was very sick and Jesus was notified. But the Great Physician Jesus did not rush to the side of Lazarus and heal him. In fact Jesus delayed His visit to Lazarus so that by the time He arrived Lazarus had been dead for four days and placed in a tomb. Death is such a feeling of finality for most people but not for Jesus. Jesus was going to use this event to demonstrate who He is, test and prove the faith of others, and reveal that of a certainty He was the God in control of life and death. But the very God who is in control of life and death is also a very sympathetic and compassionate God who understands our human feelings that involve death in this life. As Jesus saw the family weeping because of Lazarus’ death the Bible says that, “Jesus wept,” (John 11:35 NIV). God understands our pain when a loved one dies and does not condemn us for our tears or pain even though as Christians we know there is a glorious future ahead for the one who knows God. When Jesus was in the flesh walking planet earth He felt the pain of human events and He understands our pain today.
Jesus had already said to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die,” (John 11:25-26 NIV). And now the weeping was past and action to demonstrate that Jesus is “the resurrection and life” was going to take place. The family, the other people weeping and those from the village all moved to the tomb of Lazarus where a stone laid across the entrance. When Jesus requested the stone be removed Martha protested that the odor from the rotting body of her brother would be bad. When they finally removed the stone Jesus prayed and then commanded in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!’ (John 11:43 NIV). And out came Lazarus, “his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face,” (John 11:44 NIV). Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go,” (John 11:44 NIV). Much more could be said of this event but let the truth sink in, Jesus is “the resurrection and the life.” We may face life and death issues in life and when we do if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior the outcome is already predetermined. Physical death is just a step into the presence of real life promised by Jesus and continued physical life is just another opportunity to glorify God and thank Him for His care for us in this life.