Lenten Reader | Day 32

That They May Believe

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will 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!” 44 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 11:38-44
There’s a phrase people use to express the needlessness of explaining common knowledge: it goes without saying. We use it to respond to a comment made that some would label a no-brainer. We attach it to a line of thought spoken to an audience we feel we share common ground with. We – in the luxury of knowing the whole story – can say that Jesus wanted the stone removed because he was going to raise Lazarus – it goes without saying. Jesus wasn’t concerned about a horrific smell because Lazarus was going to come out alive – it goes without saying. Can we really blame Martha for noting in the moment the obvious about the state of a dead body?

But let’s remind ourselves of the mission Jesus was on at Lazarus’ tomb. To bring a friend back to life? To reunite a family? No. He was there in the same capacity as any other day in His three-year walk to the cross. To be one with the all-encompassing greatness of God as light, Logos, life-touchable, relatable, worship-able. To take us beyond our understanding of the obvious to a new common ground. He didn’t want their belief to be that he could raise a dead man by God’s power. He wanted them to recognize God in his words and actions. He wanted them to make the bold jump from a prophet who hears from God to a Son who God hears.

“Father, I thank you for having heard me.” He continues with this comment directed at the crowd that I believe you could loosely paraphrase as, “it goes without saying” – but He said it for us. He stated a reality he would die to bring us to.

But it’s not easy to walk in His obvious truth. It sometimes looks ridiculous and foolish and reckless.

Father, I want more than what I settle for. The life you are calling forth, I open my heart to receive. King Jesus, my hope is in your dwelling.

Jennifer Bowman