Hundreds of times I have heard the story of Lazarus. Alright, maybe not hundreds, but I can most assuredly say that I have heard it more than 10 times and less than 90. My first Bible was covered in white leather and had a zipper to open and shut. This particular story has a colored picture of Lazarus lying sick in bed with Mary sitting next to him wiping his brow. Martha is shaking her fist at Jesus and he is offering her a cup of wine. Okay, maybe that ending part was in my imagination.
As we know, instead of trusting in the power of God in the flesh when Jesus finally arrives to tend to Lazarus he is dead, and buried in a tomb. Upset by his late arrival, Martha says to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” This is a hint of hope in her tone, yet she is still unsure and not very happy with tardy Jesus.
After Jesus repeatedly says things like, “Your brother will rise again,” “I am the resurrection and the life,” and “Anyone who believes in me will live,” the sisters still aren’t sure about Jesus’ plans. I find this so amazing. They are standing with Jesus, the one who made blind men see again, healed leapers, turned water into wine, and fed 5,000 people with a smattering of fish and loaves of bread, and they still doubt that he is capable of making a dead man stand up and walk?
They arrive at the tomb and Jesus says, “Take away the stone.” At this point I’m pretty sure that if I were standing with Jesus, and he told me to do something, I would have enough faith to say, “I’m on it! My brother Lazarus is going to walk out when I take the stone away, right?” Jesus, Son of God, was standing right there ready to do a miracle!
However, Martha replies, “But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Really Martha? Really? That’s the best you’ve got? You are worried about the odor? As if Jesus was going to reply, “Oh gosh Martha, that’s right. What was I thinking? Let’s just go home.” Where was her confidence in who Jesus was and the miracles He had performed? Where was her faith?
I am no different than Martha. How many times have I doubted the power of Jesus? How many times have I doubted the still, small voice in my head giving me instruction that I didn’t act upon immediately? How many times have I worried about the odor instead of doing what I was asked to do? Why don’t I have complete confidence in God’s power at all times for all things?
God’s power is something I should not take lightly. God always knows what is coming up next. When I choose to slip away from the steering wheel, he is able to do mighty acts of grace on my behalf.
You know the end of the story. Of course Jesus performed a miracle and Lazarus walked out of the tomb without a stench. Not only was he filled with thankfulness, but he no doubt had a powerful appetite for a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and waffle fries.