It’s so easy to build TOMBS for ourselves, easy to become bound up by the cares of the world. It’s so easy to be distracted by life’s problems. The Easter challenge is to hear Jesus’ call to us – come out of our self-made tombs.
The Story of Lazarus is just a great story full of powerful human emotions; emotions that you and I also experience – like ... sorrow ... fear ... love ... bravery ... and joy.
When Jesus said to his apostles "Let us go back to Judea" the disciples remind him that the Jews were just trying to kill him. And we hear the disciples say “let’s go die with him.” You can’t help but be impressed with their courage and understand their nervousness about facing possible death. When we see Mary collapse in tears at the feet of Jesus, we know her pain, her sense of loss. When Jesus weeps, we know what it feels like to stand with a friend in their sorrow, to see someone we love who is hurting and weep with them.
Thinking about that scene of Jesus weeping; we need to appreciate that our God knows what we go through in life. We have a God who stood by his friends in times of trouble. We have a God that when we suffer in our daily lives is right there next to us, weeping with us; a God who shared our humanity and knows our human experience.
But this story is not just about human emotions.
It’s about faith.
It’s about the hope Jesus brought to the world.
When Jesus says to Martha: "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" He is speaking to us too. We too have been told what Jesus came to accomplish and many of us, like Martha, believe; which makes us EASTER people.
We are people do believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The story of Lazarus is a call to each of us to embrace our own resurrection, our own victory over death. The distinguishing mark of Christians is the fact that we have a future. When Jesus brought Lazarus out of the tomb after four days that was the final proof for us to believe in his resurrection. The raising of Lazarus was a foreshadowing of Easter morning. It was a pivotal event that helped Christians to have confidence in Easter.
Lent is almost over. Easter is just a few weeks away. How blessed we are to be people who have hope. Hope is such a gift, especially when we are suffering in this life.
Forgive me for telling a personal story, but I had a Lazarus moment in my life that I’d like to share with you. 1998 I was diagnosed with cancer, and it wasn’t cancer that the doctors can always get into remission. There was a high probability that I would die. But thanks to the right doctors, and the many prayers of my friends and family I survived. My friends and family, like the disciples, said to Jesus for me - ”The one you love is ill.” God heard those prayers and restored my life as he did Lazarus.
Facing death and then recovering changes you. Things you thought were so important just don’t seem as important after looking death in the eye. The human problems we face seem trivial in comparison with the Spiritual journey you find yourself on.
Before cancer, I was a Catholic but didn’t give my faith much of my time. I was too busy. We tend to build tombs for ourselves in this life, to surround ourselves with things that block out the light of our spirits. Like Lazarus, I was in a tomb, a tomb of my own making. I had allowed materialism to bury me alive. I was wrapped up in my humanity and not living like someone who was aware that the Spirit of God was dwelling in me. Paul said it well – when we focus on living in the flesh, it’s hard to please God.
Cancer reoriented my life so much for the better that I can honestly say if I could go back and choose not to have cancer or to have cancer I would choose cancer because of the changes it made in my life.
I learned that God gives us a spirit of love. I learned that we are only satisfied in life – really satisfied – when we are in touch with LOVING others. Cancer broke me out of the selfish tomb I had created for myself, and I began to look for ways to serve others, to love others. I certainly would have never become a deacon if not for cancer.
Come out … from the tomb of worry, and enter the new life of trusting God to find a way.
Come out ... from the tomb of materialism, and become a person that lives for others.
Come out … from the tomb of busyness and enter the new life of finding time to live in touch with your Spirit.
Come out … from the tomb of self-centeredness, and enter the new life of self-sacrifice, a life of loving and helping others.
Whatever our particular tomb might be, Jesus in his love for us, is calling us out. Jesus stands at the door and calls to us, "Come out!" and live like people who will never die – live in your spirit.
“I am the resurrection and the life,
Whoever believes in me, even if he dies will live,
And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
When we answer –“YES Lord, I believe,”
He says to us “then roll back the stone, come out of your tomb and really begin to live.