The Mummy Hops from the Tomb

John 11:28-44
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Jesus times these events out perfectly. He has been informed that Lazarus is in critical condition. He will not recover. After hearing this news, Jesus waits until Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days to make His appearance. Martha is a take-charge type of woman. She doesn’t wait for Jesus to come to her, she heads out to meet Him on the road as soon as she hears that He is in the area. I totally get Martha. She’s asked the only person she knows who can help her to come and save her brother. Jesus delays! That delay has resulted in Lazarus' death. If only Jesus had done as she asked in the first place this whole situation could have turned out differently. Her honesty with the Lord is encouraging. Even as Jesus promises that Lazarus will rise again she is a little terse with Him. “Yes, yes. I know he’ll rise on the last day. That isn’t what I’m looking for here. What can you do for me today?” [Translation according to Carolyn.] Then Jesus speaks the words that have been quoted millions of times since He first said them.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

Then Martha proclaims her faith in the Son of God with great power. Jesus moves the conversation away from the immediate problem of Lazarus’ death and brings it home to Martha personally. “What do you believe?” Martha’s response is perfect and hopefully rings through our hearts as well.

“Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Martha is one of the first people to express this faith so adamantly in the Gospel narrative. This woman knows exactly who Jesus is and she believes in Him as Her Savior. I think Martha is an intelligent woman. She certainly knew her Old Testament history, understood that she was awaiting the promised Messiah, and knew with clarity that she was speaking to Him on that road. Her hope was found in Him alone. But now she needs help with an immediate problem and because Jesus is her final hope, He can also be trusted with that problem, she goes back home to await His action. Her faith is more than admirable.

In the midst of our pain are we able to step away from ourselves enough to see God’s action in our lives? It’s tough to do but it’s always a great skill to have at our disposal. It goes right back to placing ourselves in the Hand of God. I think that Martha walked away from that conversation with calm in her heart. She had handed the problem over to Jesus and was just waiting to see what He would do. Even take-charge people can surrender themselves into Jesus’ control. That’s good news for me today.

In most dramatic fashion, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. After four days in the tomb we can be certain he was most decidedly dead. There are other people Jesus raises from death during His ministry, but this story is by far the most spectacular. Jesus again states why this all took place. It was for the glory of God and to bring people to faith in the One True God. And I believe there was yet another reason. Jesus raised Lazarus from death because He loved Mary and Martha. He had it within His power to relieve their pain and so He showed His great compassion and gave them back their brother.

“Unbind him, and let him go.” That is where my mind often rests when pondering this passage. The work of Jesus actually unbinds us all. We are all caught up in our slavery to sin. Jesus comes and breaks our bondage to sin and death. He is Lord and Master over our final great enemy – death. It must have been quite a scene. The townspeople go with Mary and Martha to show Jesus the grave so the number of witnesses to this miracle is large. When Jesus says “Lazarus, come out!”, in my imagination, he has to hop out because he had been wrapped in grave cloths. There can be no doubt about the Lord Jesus now. He is Master over all. Not only did Jesus bring Lazarus back for more life on earth, He brings us out of the darkness of sin so that our time left here on earth can be unfettered by bondage to sin. We can live as He calls rather than as sin demands. Our freedom has been won so we can either live wrapped in grave cloths, or we can “come out” of the grave and walk in that amazing freedom. Granted, we probably do a little bit of both (see Romans 7) but praise be to God that our final disposition is that of a person free from sin.

Carmen, a recording artist from several years ago, told this story in most entertaining fashion. I’ve included a link to that song below. He does a very good job with this whole story, telling it from the perspective of Lazarus.