Jesus, You’re Too Late | The Story of Lazarus

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I got to master teach again in our youth group’s middle school class… and I struggled so much coming up with a lesson on Lazarus. I wrote one a week before I taught and then just tossed it (aka: deleted it) on Saturday night. Then, I wrote an entirely different lesson on just verses that meant something to me… but then I woke up in a sweat (ya know like they do in the movies!) at 4am and realized… nope. Not supposed to teach that one either. SO, I wrote ANOTHER lesson on Lazarus at 4am the morning I was to teach.

And it was allllllllll Jesus talking.

And it made me cryyyyyyyy.

And it grabbed my own heart in a thousand little ways, so I had to share!

{Disclaimer: I always start my lessons with a funny story to sorta bring down the guard of the kids, so you’ll have to endure my funny story at the beginning but if you really don’t have time for a story about the fish I had in college, then skip down to the paragraph that starts “Wait… you know, Lazarus, right?”} 

Lazarus – Jesus, You’re Too Late

Ya know, when I was in college, I had a fish.

A betta fish.

His name… was Hector.

Not Hec-ter, but Hec-torrrrrrrrrr. (Roll the r in your mind please)

And let’s just be honest, fish are not usually awesome, but those betta fish… you put a mirror in front of them and they like all puff out and get all crazy trying to like make themselves look bigger.

Life To The Lifeless - Betta Fish 05.25.2014So, anyway, there was this fad when I was in college that you got a big ol vase and put a betta fish down in it and then put this big ol lily plant in the top and then your betta never had to be fed.

Which was, like, totalllly perfect for me because… well, I’ve been known to, uhhhhh, sorta like… ya know… kill lots and lots of fish cause I sorta just, ya know… forget they exist and need, ya know, like… food. So my mom and my brother came to Abilene where I was in school for my birthday and brought me this betta fish plant thingy. And, of course, I named the fish Hector because that’s the first name ANYONE should think of when naming a fish.

So, months go by and he’s doing great just nibbling on the little plant and I even changed out his water a few times! Well, then Christmas break comes around. And here’s one of the best parts about Christmas break in college… it lasts, like, A MONTH! You go home, eat your mom’s food, have her do your 8,000 piles of laundry… it’s great.

Only, yeah… guess what. When you go home for Christmas, apparently it’s NOT so good to forget your betta fish. Now, once I realized I’d left him, I didn’t really worry about it cause, ya know… no biggie, right??? Well, there’s this thing called… evaporation, and water ya know, like, disappears. So, while I was at home for a month, half of the water in his little vase-thingy… disappeared. Evaporated. So, even though that little plant was on the top, now his water was down so low that the plant root dealies weren’t hanging in the water and he couldn’t eat.

So, I get back to college and I’m all refreshed and I walk in my room and my little plant was pretty much dead and Hectorrrrrrrrr was like… tiny and like white and just like floating totally still. I was all like, yep. I killed him. I killed Hectorrrrrrr. And so I was about to flush him and all of a sudden he started like swimming all around right before I was gonna dump him out, so I put new water in, and I actually cheated and went and got him some food and in a week he was legit again.

Well, then LATER, I was running realllllllllllly late to class and I was like running into my room which had that kind of carpet that wasn’t really carpet. You know, like the kind that they have at school where it’s like flat and itchy and they, like, wax the carpet with those big circly vacuum looking things, and I came running into my room at like Mach 12 speed and slipped and fell riiiiiiight into my bookshelf where Hectorrrrrrrr’s vase thingy was and he cuhrashed to the floor and it shattered everywhere and then I couldn’t find him and then I did and he was all flopping around {squirm}  in my comforter and I {squirm} picked him up and put him in a tiny bit of the vase that wasn’t broken and still had water and then I ran off to class.

So, my suitemates and I renamed him… Lazarus. Hectorrrrrr Lazaraus, the third.

(Even though he wasn’t really the third, it just sounds cooler)

Wait… you know, Lazarus, right? From the bible? (Here is my version of the story of Lazarus which is found in John 11. Now, this is from the JRV… the January Rowe Version which means that it is NOT the real deal, but just in my words. You should also read it from a REAL version of the bible… for this particular chapter, I’d recommend either New Century Version or The Message.)

Lazarus was pretty much besties with Jesus, and then he gets realllllllllly sick, and so Lazarus’s sisters send Jesus a note like “Uhhhhhh, Jesus… Laz, you know… your reallllllly good friend, is sick.” And Jesus is all like, “Ehhhh. Let’s not go right now. This is for the glory of God. It won’t end in death.”

A couple days later Jesus is chillin with his disciples and then all of a sudden he says “Okay, let’s go back to Lazarus’s house.” Well, apparently, there were some guys in the town where Lazarus lived that tried to kill him already so the disciples are like “Yeah, that’s not a good idea” but Jesus is all like, “Hey. Lazarus is sleeping so I’m going to go wake him up.” The disciples are thinking Jesus is wack so they are like “Uhhhh, if he’s just sleeping then he’ll wake up and be fine.” But then JC’s gotta break it down for them and he says “No guys. Laz. is. dead. And I’m glad we weren’t there this whole time cause now… ohhhhhh, now you’re REALLY going to believe.”

So, they head to Lazarus’s house… well, yeah, they find out Lazarus has been dead for four days. His sisters Mary and Martha are trippin cause they know that Jesus could have kept it from happening. He talks to Martha, who is bawling and she says “If you had been here you could have saved him! But I still know you can get whatever you want from God if you just ask.” And Jesus replies, “Your brother is going to come back to life.” And she’s all, “Yeah, I know… in the end, when everyone’s spirit comes alive again.” And Jesus is all like “No… Martha. I am the one, right now, that brings life again. If someone believes in me, even if they die… they will still live! Do you believe????” and she is all “Heck yeah. I believe you are God’s Son.” And then to Martha goes home to get Mary and so she comes and talks to Jesus and she is like, bawling and saying “Jesus, if you’d been here… you could have saved him.”

And then Jesus like cries… well, actually it says that he WEEPS. And then He tells them to roll away the stone covering up the tomb. Now Martha gets a little grossed out and is all like “Uhhhhhhhhhhh, yeah, so Jesus… he has been dead in there for four days so it’s realllllly going to stink.” Jesus replies, “Hey, remember… if you believe, you will see the glory of God.” Well, that shuts her up.

So, then he shouts “Lazarus, come out!” And then Lazarus, in his mummy outfit all wrapped up in cloth, comes out and the people are like fuhreaking out.

Annnnnnd, here’s the part of the story that kind of sucks… so the people are so like “Whoa! This Jesus is legit!” and the Jewish leader guys are all like “Ohhhhh crud. Now EVERYONE is gonna believe in Jesus! This guy is gonna try to take over and then Rome is gonna come up in here and tear down our church and mess up our lives.” And so the Jewish leader guys decide they are gonna have to kill him. And they don’t waste any time… Jesus is on the cross four days later.

Ya know… all the times that I’ve read this story, I’ve just been like “Cool. Jesus raised someone from the dead. Like… duh. We knew he could do that. Why is that a big deal?”

But I think that there is more going on here.

Take that story and look everywhere that Jesus talks and look for anything he says that you think has some kind of spiritual meaning. Like, here’s an example:

And Jesus is all like, “Ehhhh. Let’s not go right now. This is for the glory of God. It won’t end in death.”

There are three more places like that which grabbed me…

“No guys. Laz. is. dead. And I’m glad we weren’t there this whole time cause now… ohhhhhh, now you’re REALLY going to believe.”

Jesus is all like “No… Martha. I am the one, right now, that brings life again. If someone believes in me, even if they die… they will still live! Do you believe????”

“Hey, remember… if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”

Now, look out of those last three verses… are there any words that you see popping out again and again? Yep… you found it…

Believe.

You see, all along I thought that this story was all about Lazarus. Wow… he must have been really special for Jesus to bring him back to life. But now that I really look at what Jesus says… I’m all like… no… this isn’t about Lazarus.

Who was Jesus there to give life to???? Look back at those examples… look at the second verse I showed you. Who was he talking to there?

The disciples.

Now, look at the third and fourth verses… who is he talking to there?

Martha.

It’s like he’s saying to all of them…

LOOK! LOOK at this POWER that I have over life! Look at this hope and life that I can give you today so that even if you die you will still live!
BELIEVE. REALLLLLLY BELIEVE.

So, who was this whole fiasco for?

Lazarus? Just so that he could live some more on earth?

No. It was for them all. So they could believe.

But I do want to back up a bit. Let’s think about Lazarus. How do you think he felt when he was sick in bed, dying? His sisters had sent a note to Jesus… to his best friend… to the guy that they all knew could heal him.

And he didn’t come.

And Lazarus was dying.

And Jesus. didn’t. come.

How do you think he felt? How do you think he felt about Jesus???

I think of him lying there… feeling hurt. betrayed. disappointed. crushed. unimportant. I wonder as Lazarus let out his last breath that he thought “Jesus… this is it! You’re too late! Too late. Too late to save me. Too late for a miracle. Too late for a miracle in my life. You didn’t show up. I’m done. Jesus, you’re too late.”

But was he? Was Jesus too late!?!?!

No.

And that’s what’s hard to remember sometimes when we are Lazarus and we are “dying”. It’s hard to remember that what I think is “too late” is not necessarily the same timing as Jesus’s “too late”.

Our parents are about to get a divorce and we are calling to God, “Come on! Now! It has to be now… you’re going to miss it, Jesus! You’re going to miss the chance to do a miracle!” And then when the divorce ends up happening and we just scream at Him, “YOU ARE TOO LATE! YOU MISSED IT! YOU DIDN’T CARE ENOUGH TO SHOW UP! YOU MISSED IT… YOU ARE TOO LATE.”

Or our mom is pregnant and she loses the baby… “YOU’RE TOO LATE JESUS! WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOW UP IN TIME? I THOUGHT YOU WOULD SHOW UP! BUT YOU ARE TOO LATE!”

Here’s my thing… maybe… maybe sometimes… we are a Lazarus. And Jesus is just waiting until juuuuuuuust the right moment to bust out a miracle. Cause ya know… to us and our unbelieving hearts, it only appears to be a miracle when it is “too late” for us to do anything. THEN that is when it becomes a miracle.

So, today… ask yourself… do you feel like the disciples and Martha? Do you need to look around you and see the hundreds of little miracles that Jesus is doing in OTHER people’s lives so that you can believe. Cause those stories are out there.

Or are you Lazarus? Are you dying on the inside? Is your soul being just ripped apart from something happening to you? Does it feel like Jesus isn’t going to show up in time?

Cause either way… no matter what is happening… Jesus has one… one message for you:

BELIEVE.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I got goose bumps or as I like to call em “GOD bumps” . Especially when you were like “who is this fiasco for?” Cause yes it was for THEM all… but it was also for US all. Awesome!

    • says

      Ooooooooo great point! It’s fun to think about Jesus in these moments thinking of those immediately around him, but in his mind… were also our faces. Wow.

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