Our Nation is Hemorrhaging
The body of our nation is in pain. In more medical terms, it’s hemorrhaging.
Last week, I touched on justice and mercy. This week, I am going to zoom-in on one of the most important themes addressed in the Bible: the answer to pain and suffering.
Please know I am not disregarding other important matters. I wanted to focus on Jesus’s answer to suffering because we are faced daily with the prospects of pain and death around us.
When I first published this post, the national death toll from COVID-19 had exceeded 104,000 lives. Now it has surpassed 170,000. Many have lost loved ones to the virus or have felt the separation and pain of its aftershocks. My heart breaks at the loss of life.
Setting the Scene
So, we are going to explore a fascinating, honest, and hopeful story about Jesus’s response to the death of His friend Lazarus.
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Lazarus’s name is short for Eleazar, which means “whom God helps” (so fitting, as we shall see!). He’s also the brother of Mary and Martha from the town of Bethany.
Jesus knew the family well, and Lazarus is one of the few people the New Testament writers specifically describe as a “friend” of Jesus. In this scene, Jesus is sharing the news of Lazarus’s death…
After [Jesus] said this, he added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. But I am going there to awaken him.” Then the disciples replied, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” (Now Jesus had been talking about his death, but they thought he had been talking about real sleep.)
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
John 11:11-15 (NET)
Like their bewilderment when Jesus calmed the storm with a single command, the Disciples are confused about who Jesus is and what He is up to.
Lazarus has died, but Jesus describes it as “sleep.” The reader at this point feels the Disciples’ confusion: He’s just going to wake up, right? Why are we traveling that far to see someone wake up?
"...falling asleep always results in rising up."
Jesus’s euphemism for death is interesting since falling asleep always results in rising up. It’s not permanent like the way we view death in our culture.
So, this is Jesus’s mission. He will take His followers to Bethany “to awaken” Lazarus so they “may believe.”
But, believe what exactly?
Hang tight this week as we take the journey with Jesus’s followers. This story is one of my favorites, and its truths matter so much to us right now.
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