I heard a “new to me” term – “LAZARUS SATURDAY”… What? Oh! That makes sense. Those days/weeks before Palm Sunday (and a few times before that) are when Jesus was with Lazarus, Mary and Martha in Bethany… OH!!!!! So cool to appreciate this term… I Googled and Wikipedia-ed it and it IS a real feast observance day for some near the end of Lent. “Lazarus Friday” and “Lazarus Saturday”… There’s even a tasty feast bread “Lazarakia” made to look like a wrapped Lazarus bodies. Cool… (Imagine tearing off some bread strips like his wrappings – and remembering Jesus in breaking the bread is like Him by taking the rap and allowing us to take some of the wraps of death – the grave cloths – off of ourselves.)
When my son was little, in Sunday school, the class did the classic toilet paper wrapping of each other to pretend like being Lazarus – adorable- but also I said to myself, “someday I hope my son will remember this” – our experiences in making Bible characters come alive for children (and us) puts motions to concepts, gives understanding at a basic level, and gets seeds planted deeply, protected and ready to sprout dozens of years later.
Lazarus. Jesus knew that plan. Jesus walked that plan. Jesus lived that plan: to let death enter into the equation of how life will become forever. Jesus came to Lazarus but only after a few days, He knew God needed the people to see a HUGE sign, Jesus knew that He had to let his friend Lazarus pass away, and the hearts break in Mary and Martha. Jesus knew His Own Walk would mirror this time, take His Own close friends and family and followers from triumphant Palm Sunday into DESPAIR, just a short time later. This job, was a job only Jesus could do. Only Jesus could know, act, wait, weep, and bring it all to be worshipful. Only Jesus. That was a Jesus Job.
What was something only Jesus knew? That He had to WAIT. Jesus was walking towards His death and deliverance, He even pre-wrote in His Word all thru the prophets in the old testament. We wait all the time for little things, IMAGINE the LONG TIME Jesus had to wait. (Imagine the long wait even now for Jesus to return)… Jesus had even to endure knowing that Lazarus was so so close and yet the action plan was not timed yet to go, Jesus had to WAIT. When it really was time, His disciples were then wondering IF they should travel or not over to Lazarus, said to be a short trip but perhaps dangerous, but Jesus knew He had a “Jesus Job” to do.
He came. Martha said, He’s dead, Mary also said: if only you could have come at our request. They all were in total despair, and their teacher also seemed to have been distant. Jesus wept. Jesus wept for and with them. Jesus was made to wait for the longterm solution and NOT the quick fix. No bandaid approach. Just REAL HEALING. Jesus then had to remind her this was not the end. Jesus had to say: “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.”
Was it human agony to wait out the pause? To wait and watch God-sized ducks get in a row? For Jesus to NOT call down an angel, or simply walk to Lazarus before he was dead. Who could endure such agony in WAITING? WHO? JESUS. Who could face their own death as part of the plan, then keep walking and working up until that last moment? JESUS.
OH LAZARUS SATURDAY, LAZARUS FRIDAY… What distraction it must have been to focus on one person’s death and life (and the teaching of hundreds, thousands, billions in addition to 2 sisters) all while walking into your own death. Not just death but complete distance from God to remove all our sins. Only Jesus could take that job.
Waiting.. only Jesus… Actually? Only Jesus? Knowing what we know now, can we do some of Jesus’s waiting? Could we pick up some of these other “Jesus jobs” too? Hmmm… I bet we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus knows we can.
If you are waiting on a friend, to realize something, to wake up, to calm down, to come back? You have a Jesus job.
If you have to forgive a grievance, right a wrong that you did not cause, you have a Jesus job.
If you see someone lost and have to hand them a map, you have a Jesus job.
If you are facing suffering and death yourself but have to keep faith, have to encourage, you have a Jesus job.
If you believe when others waiver, and you can speak in truth, that IS a Jesus Job.
If you ever had to wait on anything in your life, Jesus has been there (Jesus is here) waiting with you.
Jesus was made for the Job, the Job was made for Jesus. Let us be Lazarus-like and renewed, be Jesus-love-like and be believing in FOREVER.. how ever long the wait is to get there… Let us believe in Jesus and be one less tear He needs to shed.
Let’s pick up some “Jesus jobs” while we are waiting.
Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
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 the grave clothes and let him go.”