Raising of Lazarus
In tonight’s Bible study we learnt that timing is everything, and the time of the Lord is never too slow or too fast, but always-just right. Jesus chides his followers and us too for our lack of faith, reminding us again “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40
When Jesus learned that his dear friend Lazarus was dead he did not rush to his friend’s side as one might expect but instead waited two more days to make the short journey to Bethany. This was necessary to fully demonstrate the glory of God in the miracle he was to perform. The Disciples did not know what Jesus intended to do and were confused by his slowness. We should remember this when God seems slow to answer our own prayers and needs. We must trust in his plan even though we do not know what it is.
When Jesus finally arrives in Bethany he is met by Martha, the sister of Lazarus. She, and later her sister Mary, scolds Jesus, saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” These women who were close personal friends of Jesus show the limits of their faith. While they believe that Jesus had the power to prevent the death of Lazarus they do not understand that his power is limitless. Jesus is God. The creator of everything! His power extends over every living thing and even over death itself. The scriptures go on to tell us that Jesus was “greatly disturbed by the spirit” and that he “began to weep”. Have you ever had someone not believe you when you were telling the truth, or had to explain something to someone that they couldn’t understand? Sometimes you feel so angry and frustrated by the experience that you start to cry. Well, this is how Jesus felt when after all of his teaching and preaching, his miracles and ministry, his friends still didn’t understand who he really was! He makes his identity perfectly clear telling Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26.
The story continues with Jesus ordering that the stone be rolled away from the tomb, which is a reminder to us that miracles cannot occur unless we roll away the stones of unbelief from our hearts. Lazarus is revived. This return to life is nothing like the total transformation that Jesus experiences after his own resurrection. Lazarus will get hungry and tired and sick, and eventually die again. Jesus will become fully body and spirit, able to walk through walls, share his body and blood, and reign both in heaven and in our hearts! Isn’t that cool? The most amazing thing is that Jesus intends for us to experience this incredible transformation, too. All we have to do is have faith. Believe in the goodness of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40
Tonight we looked at the healing of the paralysed man recorded in Mark 2:1-12. Once again we see that faith is a necessary component of God’s grace. In this story however, the focus is not on the faith of the man who is healed but rather on the group of friends who have brought him to Jesus, his community of faith.
And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:2-5
Jesus’ reaction here is curious. He is moved not by the faith of the paralytic (although that very well may have been present) but by the man’s friends’ faith. He sees an obviously ill man, and his first concern is for the state of his soul. What are we to make of this?
As with most scripture, there is more than one lesson to be learned here. The boldness of the people who brought in the paralytic shows their faith in Christ. Jesus “saw their faith”, was pleased by it and healed the man they had struggled so greatly for. This is a wonderful example of how each of us should put our own faith into practice. We are not called to love our neighbours by merely being nice to them; we also have a God-given responsibility to BRING OUR NEIGHBOURS TO CHRIST.
To understand why Jesus would say, “your sins are forgiven”, you need to know that the Jews believed as we do, that only God can forgive sins however they also thought that a person’s illness was caused by his sin. When Jesus says, “your sins are forgiven” he shows the crowd that in healing the soul they cannot see, he has also healed the body, which they do see. Really, he shows that he can do both, and that he is God!
The Healings of Jesus
Tonight we looked at four of the Healings of Jesus portrayed in the Gospel of Mark. We learned about:
- the healing of the leper Mark 1:40 - 45
- Jairus and the raising of his daughter Mark 5: 21-24, 35-43
- healing of the sick woman Mark 5: 25 - 34
- blind Bartimaeus Mark 10: 46 - 52
When we look at all of these readings at once several similarities become apparent. In these stories and in other miraculous healings of the Gospels there are four recurrent similarities.
In each case the person who is healed or who requests the healing, has faith in Jesus’ ability to cure them. As always, faith is the most important aspect of our relationship with the Lord.
Jesus also asked those involved to keep the miracle a secret, or he would perform the healing in such a way as to attract as little attention as possible. When you think about it, this seems like a strange way for Jesus to act when he is trying to convince people that he is the Son of God! But Jesus wanted his followers to have faith in him because of his message of love, and not because of his ability to entertain them or meet their physical needs with miracles. He didn’t want people to follow him for the wrong reasons. He performed miracles out of his own love and compassion, not as a publicity stunt!
Those healed were often asked to do something with their gift such as show themselves to the priest. Our gifts and talents are from the Lord and should always be used to love and serve him.
Jesus often instructed witnesses to give the healed person something to eat. Perhaps this was intended to demonstrate that the Healed were indeed alive and well. It is also another powerful sign that it is Jesus alone who is our Spiritual Food.
Do you believe that God really has the power to heal? The same Jesus who healed so many people 2000 years ago lives today as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He hears our prayers and has the power to answer us. As our loving Savior, he longs to make us whole. Turn to the Lord with hearts of faith and experience the joy of being a fresh, new creation in him.