Note: This article has been excerpted from the SmallGroups.com training tool called Spiritual Disciplines for Busy Church Leaders.
I've a new Bible hero of late: Lazarus. Not Luke's scabrous beggar, but Mary and Martha's ill-begotten brother. Most of his story is told in John 11—Lazarus's sickness, Jesus' reposeful delay, Lazarus's death, Mary's and Martha's upset with Jesus, Jesus' own upset ("Jesus wept"), and then the piece de resistance: Jesus' command to a corpse, "Lazarus, come forth!"
What follows is a miracle of power and wonder: a man three-days dead, pungent with rot, rouses to the voice, obedient even in death. Death must loose its grip and give up its prey. Lazarus comes forth. That's the story most of us know.
Resting in God's Sovereignty
But it's the story after that one that I've cottoned onto. Afterward, next time Jesus is in Lazarus's town, the family hosts a banquet in his honour. As they should. It is a gala event, a hullabaloo of food and festivity and, I should think, endless and dramatic retellings of the story—"…and then Jesus started crying, and I thought, Oh no, what could this mean? But next thing he's standing up above that sepulchre like Moses on the mountain and in a voice like thunder…."
Everyone wants to be there. And not just to see Jesus. They want to get a peek at Lazarus, too. To wit: "Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to ...