“A Word for this Week” Pastor Bill Mugnolo: HARP Pastoral Advisor
Week of April 3-9, 2017: “When All Hope Seems Lost” … John 11:1-45
When we think about Jesus’ many miracles, they are certainly awe inspiring to us. But what is truly notable about so many of them is not just what He did, but the way in which He carried them out. So it is with His raising of Lazarus—a miracle that showed that Jesus is the one who truly has power over life and death.
Now Jesus could have intervened sooner. He could have come immediately at the request of His dear friends Martha and Mary to heal their brother who had become gravely ill (John 11:3). But Jesus delayed His departure to their home in Bethany for two days. When He finally did set out for that village, Lazarus was already dead (John 11:6, 14). All hope seemed lost when Jesus finally arrived and Martha said to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.21)
But even in her sorrow, Martha acknowledged that the Father could grant Jesus all things and that her brother would be raised on the last day. Even when all hope seems lost—at least here on earth—believers in Christ always have that hope of the resurrection to come. Martha affirmed that hope when she, upon Jesus’ inquiry, proclaimed her belief that He indeed is “the resurrection and the life” (vv.25-27).
But as Jesus leads us to proclaim that future hope, He also shows that He can and does act to restore our hope in the realm of the here and now. When all hope seemed lost and as the sisters grieved, Jesus commanded that the stone be rolled away and Lazarus, upon command, was raised to life (vv.38-44). Yes, Jesus could have healed Him while he was yet alive—and that, in itself, would have been a great act of healing. But He waited until all hope seemed lost to carry out an act that was far greater.
In a similar way, Jesus often deals with us. We have a major crisis situation that comes into our lives and we wonder, as did Martha and Mary, as to why Jesus hasn’t acted sooner to bring about the resolution that we would have hoped for. But Our Lord often allows a situation to get to a point when all hope seems lost. This He does, however, to test our faith in Him and to bring us to our knees—where we are meant to be all along. Then, as Israel once saw at the Red Sea and as the crowds saw when Lazarus was raised, He acts decisively as He does for us “far more abundantly than we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Truly, when He does this, He shows Himself, again and again, to be the Lord who proclaims “I Am the Resurrection and the Life.”