A Hope Delayed, Part 2

 We left our hope with Jesus, amidst the news that our dear friend Lazarus was sick.  The truth of it is, Lazarus had died.  He was sick, and Jesus just kind of… hung out.  There was no rushing wind to save his life.  There was no hope offered to the situation.  Jesus did not react like anyone would have wanted Him to.  When Jesus found out Lazarus was sick, he didn’t not leave because he was busy with something else.  he didn’t not leave because it was a dangerous trip.  He did not leave BECAUSE Lazarus was sick.  The HCSB translates John 11:6 as:

“So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.”

Mary and Martha wanted hope, they desired love.  They made a plan – seek out Jesus – and he didn’t not come to their add at a moment’s notice.  He waited.  But then… then, there was hope:

“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”John 11:11

Jesus decides it is time to act.  The disciples are nervous… it’s a dangerous trip to visit their destination (Judea) because the last time they were there, there was an attempt to stone Jesus.  They think they are going to wake up a sleeping man, but Christ clarifies: they are going to go and wake the dead.Jesus arrives, and is strong for Mary and Martha.  He seeks out their faith, almost testing them.  The time has come for Christ to heal his friend and – before he even gets to the actual tomb, as he comes upon the location, we have one of the most memorized passages in the Bible:

“Jesus wept.”John 11:35

What was His emotions at this point.  Christ waited, letting his friend die.  Christ’s best friends essentially say they expected more of him (“if only you had been here”).  And Christ, in his infinite wisdom, knew the danger, the excitement, and the torment He was about to unleash upon the crowd… and upon Lazarus.Lazarus was dead.  Jesus knows what’s on the other side of death… whether it is Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise or Purgatory or nothing until the resurrection… Jesus knew what He was bringing Lazarus back from.  Lazarus would breathe again, but he would also feel pain again, one day, ultimately, die again.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would 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.”
John 11:40-44

And that’s the end.  That’s all we know.  We don’t have Lazarus thanking Jesus.  We don’t have Mary and Martha thanking Jesus.  We don’t have a recorded, personal moment of introspection or of joy or of life.  Just “let him go.”Why?  Why is it like this?Jesus gave hope.  He answered the prayer.  I don’t think he was simply healing a dead man.  He was healing a family.  He gave hope.  I believe that’s all He ever wanted to give.What about our friends Caleb and Joshua?  They had hope of a promised land.  Of twelve who went to scout the land, only these two believed it was theirs.  They came to lead Isreal and the time was right to now take the land.  They spied on the ihabitants, and found them afraid.  They met a lady name Rahab, who would be included in the lineage of Christ.  They had faith; and the people now had faith in God.The priests were sent first, carrying the Ark of the covenant.  The were walking straight towards a flooding Jordan river.  And once all their feet were in the water, not a moment before, the river stopped and the priests and warriors together crossed over to Jericho.

 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt SeaThat is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.Joshua 3:14-17

 Joshua and Caleb had hope.  Mary and Martha were without their brother for four days.  Joshua, Caleb, and the nation of Isreal were without their promised land for forty years.And what of Jesus?  What hope did he find?When we left His struggle for hope, He had returned home and His childhood, adolescent, and twenty-somethings young adult friends offered Him no grand homecoming.  They offered Him no faith or hope; just a lack of belief and a lack of miracles.  Where did He find hope?

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.

32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 3: 31-35, also Matt 12:46-50, also Luke 8:19-21.

Christ’s hopes, His family and loved ones were not his blood relatives, simply because they were blood they were His chosen family, the people who did God’s will.  Christ’s hope was in his small group.  His hope was in His community of believers.  His hope was in His bride, the church.And their hope, our hope, is in him:

Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”John 11:16

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