Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who is He that Stands and Weeps

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

I think one of the best illustrations of Jesus' humanity AND deity is the story of Lazarus' death and resurrection.

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” John 11:1-3

Clearly, Jesus loved Lazarus. And we would expect that upon hearing these words, Jesus would do everything in His power to get to Bethany right away. After all, He is the One who heals the sick! But that's not what happens.

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. John 11:4-6

Wow - these verses seem to be contradictory, don't they? At least to our human way of thinking. Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus (who is very sick) and so he STAYS in the place where He was... Hmmm. It does seem contradictory, until we realize what Jesus said at the beginning of that section - He tells the people with Him that this sickness is to bring glory to God and that it won't end in death.

This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” John 11:11-15

Lazarus is dead. And what Jesus will do next will show His humanity and His deity, bring tremendous glory to God and bring many people to faith in His Son.

Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” John 11:32-37

Clearly, Mary and Martha are disappointed that Jesus didn't come earlier since they know He could have saved Lazarus. And when Jesus sees Mary weeping, and all the people weeping with her, He is moved and troubled. When He sees where Lazarus is laid, our Lord weeps. (Humanity!) The Jews realize that this display of emotion shows how much Jesus loves Lazarus. But they wonder why this Healer didn't prevent His death - clearly they knew He had the power to do that.

So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
John 11:38-44

Jesus brought Lazarus back to life! (Deity!) And He did it so that all the people would believe that He was sent from God. He did it so that God would be glorified in a bigger way than if Jesus had "just" healed Lazarus while he was sick. God's power raised Lazarus from the dead. And because of this, many people believed and put their trust in Him.

Who is He that stands and weeps at the grave where Lazarus sleeps? He is the Lord, the King of Glory!

What can we learn from this story to apply to our lives? For me, it shows that God will choose to bring Himself glory, and may not do something he COULD do, if there's something BETTER He could do to make His name even greater. That doesn't always make sense to us. It didn't make sense to Mary and Martha, who wondered why the Lord didn't come RIGHT AWAY to save their brother. If you're a believer, the Lord is working things out for your good and His glory. But it might not be the way you think it's going to work out. That's because He is God and we are not!

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

God has a purpose and a plan and He is working it out. He is the King of Glory.

Who is He in Yonder Stall?
Words by Benjamin Hanby

Who is He in yonder stall
At whose feet the shepherds fall?
Who is He in deep distress,
Fasting in the wilderness?

’Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
’Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! crown Him, Lord of all!

Who is He the people bless
For His words of gentleness?
Who is He to whom they bring
All the sick and sorrowing?

Who is He that stands and weeps
At the grave where Lazarus sleeps?
Who is He the gathering throng
Greet with loud triumphant song?

Lo! at midnight, who is He
Prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is He on yonder tree
Dies in grief and agony?

Who is He that from the grave
Comes to heal and help and save?
Who is He that from His throne
Rules through all the world alone?

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