Anglican Morning Devotion 14 August 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 5Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 11These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.” (John 11:1-15; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
It is a great comfort for us to know that Christ will empty our tombs just as He does Lazarus. He is Lord of the living and not the dead.
In this account, we learn that a ‘certain man named Lazarus’ was sick. He is a man from Bethany, the home of Martha and Mary (the same Mary who anointed the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair). The two women were sisters to the ailing Lazarus. We learn from the text these cardinal points:
1 )He whom thou lovest is sick: It is important to make note of this appeal of the sisters to Christ in their message. Those whom Christ lovest will receive a certain and sure attention of the Lord to his condition. The Lord may have reason to delay a satisfaction to prayer for the greater glory of God, but He will certainly respond in the due process of time according to a Will which is beyond our understanding. IT is the power of His love that gives us life and hope in death.
2) This sickness is not unto death A profound truth that begs elucidation here is that there is no real death to the believer. Death is simply a gate to a fuller and richer eternal life of ecstasy with God. Though a physical death should drag our bodies to the tomb, the Lord of Life will awaken that body regardless the impediments of stone and masonry surrounding. Christ spoke in a knowledge and wisdom of which the hearers were not prepared to grasp. He does so often to us today, but we must trust always for the final count.
3) Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus This is no random statement of insignificance for Christ loves all who love Him. The love of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus for Christ was a lasting love, proven by dedicated service and unquestionable loyalty. The love of Christ for you, me, and all who love Him and obey Him is a truth beyond any doubt. In fact, He died especially for you and me. Had there been none others but only one, He would have doubtless died as a redemption for the sins of that one.
4) He abode two days still in the same place where he was God is not subject to the Space-Time Continuum in which the physical world operates. Considerations of time are not matters of any import to the Ancient of Days. He delayed His coming to Lazarus at Bethany for TWO more days! This delay doubtless caused much trouble and worry for Mary and Martha as the life of Lazarus gradually disappeared as a star on the distant horizon. Why did their Lord delay? They were certain that Christ could heal Lazarus, but what if Lazarus died while Christ delayed? They could not have comprehended the glorious purpose for which Christ delayed. When our prayers are not answered in the same time required to order a MacDonalds hamburger, we often suffer a failure of faith. Do we not know that Christ does all things well regardless our lack of understanding His ways?
5) Let us go into Judaea again: Jesus is aware of the dangers lurking in returning to Judea, the place of Bethany, but while it is yet light, He must labor. While He is yet living in the flesh, He is the Light itself. He is the “Day Star” (2 Peter 1:19) and the very “Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) in whose wings is healing (for you, me, and Lazarus).
6) Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep All who confess Christ are joined in friendship and love. “Our friend Lazarus” is a precious term by which Christ made reference to the dead. Even our friends who have physically died are still our friends. In the eyes of all his friends and family gathered at Bethany, Lazarus is DEAD! But to Christ, the Author and Giver of Life, Lazarus is merely sleeping. The length of the sleep is irrelevant – hours, days, months, years – all are immaterial to the awakening from sleep of the power of Christ. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is not the God of the dead! Christ will surely awaken Lazarus regardless his length of sleep and condition of decay.
7) But they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. The words of Christ are gracious and gentle. He looks upon physical death in the same way as sound sleep. But his disciples could not understand, so He speaks to them in terms which they can understand. Let us look upon death in the same way Christ has taught us to view it – as merely a temporary sleep – a twinkling of the eye before we are given glorified bodies not subject to the least shadow of death.
8) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe Jesus is constantly vexed by our little faith. Do we not recognize Him as the Lord of Life? Do we expect too little from such a One?
The clear message of the above passage is to trust in Christ even when all worldly signals defy that trust.