The story of Lazarus reveals both Jesus’s supernatural power and genuine humanity. It’s also a sharp reminder that love and pain are often interconnected.
Evident in the Lazarus story is that Jesus definitely has a plan. Mary and Martha sent word of Lazarus’ grave illness, but Jesus doesn’t hustle. Instead, he lingers. For two days he waits around before making an announcement of his intention to help Lazarus. Surely those with him must have wondered what the heck was going on and why he chose to delay.
When Jesus finally arrives to the sister’s house, he’s cagey with them about his plan to raise Lazarus. Despite the sorrow, Jesus allows the pain to continue. Why? Even onlookers to this agonizing scene said of him, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” (v37.) It should also be noted – Jesus has chosen to let one of his best friends die to make a point.
But incredibly, Jesus is not immune to the pain he is allowing. The shortest verse in the Bible is also his most human moment: Jesus wept. Whether it was the loss of Lazarus or the anguish of his friends Mary and Martha, Jesus shares their pain. He shares OUR pain too.
The hard reality is that sometimes God allows hurt and sorrow into our life stories - knowing that it will pay off greatly in the end. That was true with Lazarus. It was true with Mary and Martha. And it was most dramatically true with Jesus’ life as well.
But the question we must ask ourselves is: Can my love wait through the pain?
We see in the story of Jesus’s raising of Lazarus the very human and intimate love that Jesus came to share with all of us. But it also shows that ultimately love comes with a pain and process. Like birth, the joy of life overcomes the pangs of pain. Mary, Martha, Lazarus, you and me—every one of us is confronted with pain as the price for love. Thankfully, Jesus is both the one who weeps with us and the one who breaks the power of those things that cause such tears. He offers love in a world full of danger and death, but in the end his love also destroys death itself.