Bible Study on Lazarus
Lazarus, Jesus, and the Silence of God.
by I Gordon
 ↩ Larry Norman summed up the 'silly season' when he sang 'Santa Claus is com'in and the kids are getting greedy... do do... do do... It's Christmas time! They know it's in the story cos they've seen it on the TV... do do... do do... It's Christmas time!' And so on... Ok, so you have to know the song!
 ↩ I know, Christmas Day isn't when Jesus was born and yes, it does have pagan origins. And you are also correct that God doesn't want us celebrating the fact that He became a man on just one day of the year. He's not really into rituals and traditions not based on His word. But the Christmas silly season did get me thinking again and this study is part of the result. Ok? So go easy on me.
 ↩ In Oswald Chamber's 'If you will ask' he calls these two verses (John 11:5-6) 'God's Silence'. He writes 'How many of us have been blind in our prayers? Look back and think of the prayers you thought had not been answered but now find that God has answered with a bigger manifestation than you ever dreamed... Some prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong, others because they are bigger than we can understand. Jesus stayed where He was - a positive staying, because He loved Martha and Mary. Did they get Lazarus back? They got infinitely more; they got to know the greatest truth mortal beings ever knew - that Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.'
 ↩ See Mark 6:45-52. Jesus left the disciples all night out in the boat, straining on the oars because of the waves and contrary wind, and didn't come until the fourth watch (between 3-6am). And then when He did come he 'intended to pass them by.' But when He did come, He came walking on the water, and the wind and waves stopped and they learned that truly He was the 'I AM' - Some things require the 'silence of God' before we can see God's best.
 ↩ Quite a few years ago we had this slightly odd family doctor who told my mother that she might have cancer. To complicate matters there was a three week waiting list at the hospital for the proper tests. So my mother had to wait... and stress... all the while not knowing whether she had cancer or not. At the end of the first week she had lost a considerable amount of weight. Everyone knows that this is a sign of cancer, right, so it made her feel even more anxious! In the midst of her anxiety, wondering why she had to wait and thinking that the cancer would spread while she could do nothing, she suddenly heard the Holy Spirit say to her 'Have you ever known God to be late?' She thought for a while and the image that came to her was of Mary with Joseph, travelling all that distance while pregnant, but God still got her safely to the manager in Bethlehem, in perfect time, to have the child and fulfil prophecy. So no, Mum answered, 'I have never known God to be late.' The next question that came to her was 'Have you ever known God to be in a hurry?' She again said 'No, God is never in a hurry because He is never late!' This was all that needed to be said and she had peace once again. God is never late, and He is never in a hurry 'cos He is never late! Remember that. As it turns out, she didn't have cancer and the weight loss was simply due to stressing out!
 ↩ It is true that from an earthly point of view we often don't see 'why' things happen or 'why' there seems to be a lack of action on God's part sometimes. Later we can look back with greater understanding. I have been getting into cycling a bit lately so I decided to read Lance Armstrong's story in his book 'It's not about the bike.' If you haven't heard of Lance Armstrong, he has won the 5 previous Tour de France cycling contests (which is a tied record) and all this after recovering from cancer! The guy is a freak! But anyway, one thing that stood out to me was a letter Lance received from another cancer patient while he was going through the chemo treatment. It said 'You won't understand it now, but we are the lucky ones.' And he was right. Lance didn't understand it at the time. But later after recovering from cancer and seeing the new outlook on life that it gave him, Lance could start his book by saying 'The truth is, that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't know why I got the illness, but it did wonders for me and I wouldn't want to walk away from it. Why would I change, even for a day, the most important and shaping event in my life?' Despite the difficulty that he had to go through he did learn the he was one of the 'lucky ones' for having had cancer. How much more then should we who know the Lord have hope in the midst of difficulties, and see them as an opportunity for the Lord's best to be worked out in our life?
 ↩ The other thing, which I'll let you think about, is why didn't Martha bring out the same reaction in Jesus that Mary did? Why was Mary able to touch His heart in such a way? What does this mean for us?
 ↩ Someone once said they were glad he named Lazarus else everyone would have come forth! There is also a useful picture of evangelism in this passage. The Lord asked the people to roll away the stone just as we are used to remove things that hinder people from coming to the Lord. But then it was the Lord that gave Lazarus life just as it is only the Lord that can give spiritual life to the dead... we can't save anyone. Only the Lord can. But then the Lord asked the people to unbind Lazarus. This is discipleship, the unbinding of the old grave clothes, so that a new man in Christ will emerge. This is a responsibility that the Lord gives to His people today.