The decision to kill Lazarus

A large number of people in the crowd learned that Jesus was present. They had come not only to see Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, the man that Jesus had brought back to life. Then the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well. This was because many Jews began to stop following the Jewish leaders and believed in Jesus after seeing Lazarus alive.

JN 12:9-11

The resurrection of Lazarus

Jesus was filled with a deep anger when he heard this and approached the tomb. The tomb was in a cave and there was a large stone covering the entrance. Jesus asked them to roll the stone aside.

Martha said “He’s been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

But Jesus said “Did I not say that you would see the glory of God if only you believe?”

So they rolled the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. Jesus raised his eyes and said “Father, thank you for listening to me. I know that you always listen to me, but I’ve said this now because of the crowd which is here, so they can believe that you sent me.” After saying this Jesus shouted, “Lazarus come out!”

Lazarus walked out of the tomb covered from head to toe with the linen cloths that he had been buried in. Jesus said “Remove the burial cloths and release him.”

JN 11:38-40

Jesus weeps

Martha then went to speak privately with her sister, saying “The Teacher is asking for you.” Mary immediately got up to go to him. Jesus was still where Martha had met him just outside the village. The Jewish leaders who had been consoling Mary noticed how quickly she had left, so they followed her. They thought she was going to cry at the tomb.

When Mary saw Jesus, she said “Lord, my brother wouldn’t have died if you had been here!”

Jesus was distraught when he saw that she and the others with her were crying. He asked “Where have you placed him?”

They answered “Come with us and see.”

Jesus wept.

The Jewish leaders said “Look! He must have loved him deeply!” But others said “Couldn’t someone who healed a blind man have prevented this man’s death?”

JN 11:28-37

Lazarus dies at Bethany

A man named Lazarus from the village of Bethany was sick. He was the brother of Mary and Martha, who also lived there. Mary was the lady who had anointed Jesus with fragrant oil called nard and then used her hair to wipe his feet. The sisters sent a message to Jesus, saying “Lord, someone that you love is sick.”

When Jesus received the message, he said “This sickness will not lead to death, but to the glory of God. The Son of Man will be glorified through it.” Even though Jesus loved the three of them, he didn’t start to go to them until two days later.

The disciples challenged him when he told them that they were going to Judea, saying “The Jewish leaders want to stone you to death, and you want to go there again?”

Jesus answered “There are twelve hours of daylight every day, where people can walk without stumbling because of all the light. People stumble at night because they don’t have light.” Then he said “Lazarus has merely fallen asleep, and I’m headed there to awaken him.”

The disciples said “Lord, he’ll get well if he has just gone to sleep.” They did not realize that Jesus was talking about his death, so Jesus spoke plainly to them. “Lazarus has died. I’m glad that I wasn’t there at that time so you will have another reason to believe in me. Let us be on our way.”

Thomas, nicknamed “Twin,” said to the others “Let’s all go and die along with him.”

JN 11:1-16

The anointing at Bethany

Jesus was staying in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had a serious skin disease. They gave a dinner in honor of him there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus, the one Jesus had raised the dead, was reclining at the table with him. Mary, Martha’s sister, approached Jesus with an alabaster jar filled with a pound of a pure and expensive fragrant oil called nard.

She broke the jar open and poured the oil on his head and feet while he was reclining at the table, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the oil’s fragrance.

The disciples were indignant about this. Judas Iscariot, the one who was going to betray him, spoke up to scold Mary, saying “Why wasn’t this expensive perfume sold and the money given to the poor, rather than being wasted like this?”

Jesus said “Why are you bothering her? What she has done for me is very noble. She has saved this oil for the day of my burial, which she has now prepared me for by anointing my body. The poor will always be with you for you to take care of, but I won’t. I assure you, what this woman has done for me will be told in memory of her wherever the gospel is proclaimed throughout the world.”

MT 26:6-13, MK 14:3-9, JN 12:1-8

On speaking with the dead.

Jesus tells us a parable in Luke 16:19-31. Pay special attention to the last line.

19 “There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 24 ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’25 “‘Son, ’Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’ 27 “‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28 because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”

Now let’s look at a verse from the prophet Isaiah –

Isaiah 8:19-20
19 When they say to you, “Consult the spirits of the dead and the spiritists who chirp and mutter,” shouldn’t a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, there will be no dawn for them.

We too live in a time where people would rather consult “spiritualists” than God. But perhaps they can’t hear from God. Where is the connection broken? Sometimes God doesn’t talk to humans. Sometimes we don’t talk to God.

This reminds me of the story of Samuel, a young prophet, when he first was called by God. Pay special attention to verses 1 and 7.

1 Samuel 3:1-10
The boy Samuel served the LORD in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the LORD was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread.2 One day Eli, whose eyesight was failing, was lying in his room. 3 Before the lamp of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle of the LORD, where the ark of God was located. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” 5 He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “I didn’t call,” Eli replied. “Go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Once again the LORD called, “Samuel!” Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “I didn’t call, my son,” he replied. “Go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel had not yet experienced the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8 Once again, for the third time, the LORD called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 He told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If He calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The LORD came, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”

What if we live in a time where God is speaking, but nobody is listening? What if we think that only ministers can hear from God, but everybody else can’t?

Jesus came to make us all like brothers – equal.

Matthew 23:8-12
8 “But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

We are all able to speak to God and to listen. Jesus’ death tore the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies.

Matthew 27:50-51
50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.

There is nothing anymore that separates the direct experience of God from everyone. It is no longer a place just for the High Priest. There is no “them” and “us” when it comes to access to God .

You no longer have to consult spiritualists or mediums or even ministers. Why get it second-hand? Go directly to the Source and hear it for yourself.

(All Bible translations are HCSB)

Time travel dream

I had a dream that I travelled back in time to visit my Mom. We were together in the living room in our old house in Chattanooga. She was sitting on the couch by the windows, where later we would put the hospital bed. She died in the same place she had sat all those years.

When I traveled there in my dream, I told her that I was really 45, that essentially, I was possessing my own body. I asked her how old I was at the time, because everything always looked the same there. She told me that I was 12.

I told her that she died when I was young, but I didn’t tell her when. I told her how it affected me. I told her that she might want to stop smoking and start eating well.

We had a steady diet of junk when I was growing up – no fresh vegetables, a lot of fried food. If we ate vegetables at all they came out of a can or the freezer. A lot of food was brown. The walls of the house were stained yellow with all the tobacco smoke. It was a very unhealthy place to grow up. I had no control over my environment, and the people who should have looked out for me were killing me day by day.

For some reason I felt like I could warn her about the train wreck she was making of our lives by smoking and eating poorly. Her bad choices were my bad choices by default. I was her child and had no control over what I ate and the air I breathed when I was there. For some reason I thought I could change her ways by coming back as an adult to tell her what would happen if she didn’t change.

When I woke up, I pondered on that dream and I thought of this Bible passage. Jesus told this story about a rich man and a poor man. The Lazarus in this story isn’t the same one he raised from the dead – that was the brother of Martha and Mary.

Luke 16:19-31
19 “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz′arus, full of sores,21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz′arus in his bosom.24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz′arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz′arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’” (RSV)

So I realized that it didn’t matter. Even if I had been able to go back to tell her to change her ways, it wouldn’t have done any good. She knew that smoking was bad for her but she still did it. She knew that she should eat better but she didn’t do it. She had made her choices and she stuck to them, regardless of the warning signs and the evidence.

How many people are like this? They’d rather stick with what they know to be bad rather than make the change to what they know to be good.

Change is hard. It takes a lot of energy to break free of a bad habit. But it is worth it. And the more you push towards being healthy, the more energy you have to make other changes.