I got some unexpected and much needed time with the Lord this afternoon. Most of the time when I sit down with my Bible I have the same routine I go through. I start off prayer journaling and sharing with Him all of my worries, struggles and requests. This helps me read and not be distracted with all of these thoughts, but just focus on what the Word says and what He has for me. Then I move on to read whatever book I’m studying or to work on the homework for whatever study I’m attempting to follow along with. So when I sat down today, I pulled out my journal but didn’t feel compelled to unload all of my worries and requests. So then I grabbed the workbook for the study I just started, but didn’t feel like doing the homework. So I started to flip to a passage in John I had been studying awhile ago. While I was flipping through the pages I felt compelled to stop in John 11:38-44 where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. For many reasons, this quiet time broke the usual routine, one of which being that I knew so strongly what I was supposed to read. But the main thing about this time that stands apart is that from the first moment of the mere 30-40 minutes that I was sitting there reading, the Lord began pouring out what He had for me. He crammed more into that half hour than I typically receive in several hours of studying. As weird as it may sound, it felt like it was almost a downloading process. Every second He showed me something, but with so much more depth and understanding than I could humanly process in that amount of time. I don’t know how else to explain it, and as always- take it with a grain of salt. But I’m going to break it down into a short “series” to share.
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off your grave clothes and let him go.”
Not long ago, when our daughter Samantha was around 2, there was this stretch where she would tell you “I love you possible”. It all started because we would tell our kids that we love them. And Elliott (who had a larger vocabulary) would say, “I love you more”. Sometimes it would involve stretching our arms out to show how much we love each other, and, of course, our arms would stretch farther. So it would go back in forth this way, including “I love you most” and finally ending with us telling them, “That’s not possible.” Samantha, being wired more like me in personality, eventually hit the point where she just wanted to cut to the chase. Instead of the process of going back and forth, she would just begin and finish with “I love you possible.” Four simple words communicated many, many more.
The first sentence of our passage is like this. And I find these sentences so beautiful because it is proof that the Word is living and active like the Bible tells us. The words almost jump off the page with the emotion of a living being. And like Samantha, communicate way more than the words themselves could ever say.
“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.” Jesus wasn’t just sympathizing with Martha that Lazarus had died. He cared deeply. Lazarus, Martha and Mary were all very close friends with Jesus and He was deeply moved not just because His friend had died, but because Martha and Mary were in so much pain. Compassion can be a very strong emotion, and an even stronger motivator. It is an emotion that requires action in order to be. And this is no different. This is not just Jesus feeling an emotion, but being moved to action from the emotion. And in this sentence, the action is the physical movement to the tomb.
I shared another time that one of the things that is so different and beautiful about Jesus and Christianity is that they run into the mess when everyone else is trying to avoid it. One of the reasons Jesus was drawn to the tomb was because He cared deeply. It reminds me of the verse that talks about if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. Jesus wants to be with us. But I would argue from this passage, that unlike everything else- Jesus isn’t drawn to our cleaned up and brushed off selves. We like the put together version of people, it’s far less messy. But Jesus is drawn to the messy because He knows that He can clean it up.
If nothing else, please hear this. Jesus is coming for you and wants to have relationship with you in the midst of your pain, suffering, and junk. He is life and was drawn to the place of death to rescue the ones He loves out of it. While your pain, suffering and junk might push others away, it draws Jesus to you because He cares more deeply than you or I will ever know. I pray that today, this hits your heart as deeply as it has mine.