Vol. 7, No. 13 – April 3, 2022
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary, and her sister Martha. –John 11:1
A number of years ago, I made several trips to the hospital to visit a good friend, Larry Foss. Larry was the Program Director for WHAZ Radio in NY. He also had a radio program. At this time he was ill, actually terminally ill. When I would visit with him, pray over him, and talk about what he was thinking, Larry would be the most encouraging friend I had. The other thing of note was that Larry would ask me to help him get in his wheelchair.
Then, he would ask me to wheel him down the halls of the hospital. He wanted to visit those nurses and workers that he had shared Jesus with; shared the Gospel. Told them about the fact that He is the life and resurrection. So we would go. And he would ask if they thought any more about what he told them.
Larry was getting ready to move into eternity. His concern was over folks that he would leave behind that did not have a relationship with Christ. He wanted just another opportunity to speak with them.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18, Paul writes these words: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. . . .Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Paul had complete confidence in his eternity with the Lord. His concern was for those without that confidence, and for those who steadfastly rejected a relationship with Christ.
Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he dies yet shall he live (John 11:25). Jesus approached Mary and Martha; both had questions regarding Lazarus and his death. They both remarked about Jesus not being present in the illness. The response of the women was both true and with some misunderstanding.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany, a small town outside of Jerusalem. Jesus knew the family well. He was on His way to Jerusalem, to die for sinful people (which would be everyone). The Bible portrays some times when Jesus was present in their home.
Jesus makes His way to Bethany, on His way to Jerusalem, following the death and burial of Lazarus. This is an important visit. He had tarried in the Garden of Gethsemane. New trouble came into the family. Lazarus became ill; a sickness unto death, Messengers came to report to Jesus, the one you love is sick (the Greek word is sick unto death). It is serious.
The Scripture account encourages one to turn to Jesus at every juncture of life, every season of life. Mary and Martha draw near to Jesus. He is questioned as if He did not care about Lazarus, but He did care.
Clear instructions for our ministry are included in the passage. Comforting. Valuable. God has created men and women to be mutually dependent; we have a need to lean on others and learn from others. It is one of the many reasons the Lord draws people to be a part of a body of believers. Without that design, people will always disappoint one another. Jesus is also the One who says come to Me all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus used the meeting with Mary and Martha to be a teachable moment. John 11:25 has a couple of thoughts we dare not miss: 1) the resurrection is present; Jesus Himself is life. 2) People are dead in trespasses and sin.
Larry was always ready to respond to another’s needs. He did not put things off until his last days on earth were upon him.
Note the very clear instructions for our ministry. It is not just a list. As we live our lives, we must be ready at all times to touch another life; to tell them of what Christ expects. Then help them come. Help them understand. Help them to move toward the change that is freely offered by Christ.
Jesus offers Himself to cover our sin (all of it). His desire is as the Father’s desire, as the Holy Spirit’s desire—that no one would perish, but that each would come freely to Him. The offer is as fresh today as it was in the times of Jesus the Messiah upon the earth.
The need is the same. The cost to Jesus has not changed. He waits for the response from those created. No one is cast aside from the opportunity until death makes a separation such that one cannot any longer act upon the grace and mercy of Christ.