Martha met him in the way.
In spite of her loss, in spite of her love for her brother and for this man, her eyes were yet red and swollen with bitter tears. Exhausted and drained of weeping for four days, surprisingly her spirit was accusatory and mixed with anger and disappointment. The loss of her brother was a heaviness that hung about her shoulders as a funeral shroud, and knowing Jesus was only now coming was to her grief stricken heart no longer a comfort. So, she spoke the words that had been going around in her head for these last few days, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died”.
Martha, the servant, and her sister Mary – (the one who sat a Jesus feet and worshiped), yes, they both spoke these words to the Lord. I don’t know the tone, or the attitudes of their hearts, but I want to discern something else.
What was Lazarus up to? He has been dead four days. His carcass has been entombed, and despite the spices, ointments, and wraps: decay is well under way. This we know from being humans that when death comes the body’s organs go through a process that if not arrested by embalming makes for lightly attended funerals. Anyone who has ever come across a dead animal, or let the meat defrost overly long knows the smell of death. It stinketh.
As believers we often quote the Apostle Paul by saying to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2Cor5:8) While we have this scene going on in Bethany, we know there is another going on in the heavenlies. Lazarus has come to the Golden City to live eternally in the mansion that has been specifically prepared for him. No doubt the angels are rejoicing and he is bursting with joy unspeakable. Paul would not talk about his own visit to the third heaven, and I will not speculate about the beauty of Lazarus’s situation either.
Now he is in Glory with his Saviour and Lord. And Jesus is beckoning him to his side. The Lord has a mission for Lazarus. The Lord is going to quicken the mortal body wrapped in grave clothes back in the tomb in Bethany and he is sending Lazarus back to live in it. He is sending Lazarus out of the eternal city, out of the halls of heaven, and banished to the dusty streets of Israel under Roman rule. How his human mind deals with this – it is only the limitless Grace of God, His Goodness and His Mercy and His Love and His Higher Calling that moves his heart to do God’s will. How much fruit will this mission bare? Much.
Having never seen heaven I can not even begin to understand the preponderance of what Lazarus was thinking.
But I want to throw another Bible character into this mystery of the All Mighty.
In my mind’s eye I envision him alone and standing in the tall grass of the meadow and sadly staring across the way. He comes here often to bow his head and his heart to just worship and maybe remember with sadness and guilt the former days of paradise. He draws as close as he dares to the flaming sword that guards the way to the tree of life. He too, like Lazarus has recently died and been removed from the idyllic surroundings of what we consider paradise. He has not yet died a physical death, but a Spiritual one. He had chosen death by disobedience, and now he too is banished from Eternal life. God in his great love can not and will not let Adam live forever in his fallen, sinful state. The light of the presence of the Lord had been replaced by the skins of animals slain to cover the nakedness of the man and his woman. Centuries later Moses would have this same glowing light on his face from spending time in the presence of the Lord. His face glowed to the point where he veiled his face. The veil was there not to prevent people from seeing the glow, but to prevent them from seeing that the glow was fading. Death has come and taken a prominent role in the lives of all the living, and will hold victorious sway over not just mankind, but all creation from generation to generation until the second coming. Jesus is returning, and one of his names is “The second Adam”.
I can’t help but think in the Kingdom of Heaven that Lazarus and Adam will want to get together and compare notes. Maybe they’ll sit in one of the gates of pearl, or perhaps by the river that flows from the throne of God and under the trees of life that bare fruit.
But what about you? Has God quickened your mortal flesh and sent you on a mission? Or have you made a choice to go your own way? Either way. it’s gonna cost you. Where is your everlasting home?