John 11:28-44 NKJV
28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”
32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Jesus does all of His actions to reveal God’s mercy to the world through Himself. He’s God, and through His divinity He obviously knows all things. He knew Lazarus was going to die — so He could have been there beforehand. Yet, Jesus delays not just a minute, or an hour, or a day after Lazarus’ death, but four days — all for the merciful sake of creating belief. Then He prays to the Father. Why? “… but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” (vs.42) And, again, He has the power to raise Lazarus out of the tomb without even speaking. But what does He do? “… He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” (vs. 43) Again, for the sake of everyone to hear His Word — that they may believe.
Sounding as if he looked like a mummy — Lazarus “came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.” (vs. 44) Sin had certainly carried itself out to its conclusion — death. Yet, listen to what the Word made flesh says to the inescapable wrappings of the Law: “Loose Him, and let Him go.”
Similar blessed words of Christ (the loosening key of Holy Absolution) were given to the Office of the Holy Ministry as well; creating yet another means to which sinners can flee through faith for refuge. For true freedom comes only by grace through faith in Christ’s fully atoning merits — and such faith is imputed to believers as righteousness!
Let us pray: Almighty, everlasting God, make us always to have a devout will toward You and to serve Your majesty with a pure heart; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.