This is the tomb of Lazarus.
In John 11, a story is told of a man by the same name. So ill was Lazarus, that his devoutly religious sister, Martha had to go and beg Jesus to come help heal him. Now, for some reason, Jesus was in no rush to save her brother, even though he was only a couple of miles from where the ill man was located. In fact, much to the amazement of His disciples, Jesus did not rush to heal him, and in turn, he died. In fact, it was written that Jesus was actually glad the man died long before He decided to even make His way over there! Seriously?
So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Once Jesus arrived in town, the shortest recorded passage in the Bible took place…
Now Jesus certainly wasn’t glad that Martha was in grief, but He had bigger plans that day. He was glad that even in the midst of the most terrible tragedy of death, God could turn the situation into something worth celebrating.
So He instructed Martha to remove the stone that sat in front of the tomb. BEYOND THE STONE Lazarus’ dead body was in the process of decomposition. Of course, Martha did not see the reason behind Jesus’ instruction as she was caught up in how she “felt” about it. That feeling was fixated on the notion that her brother’s body that had been buried four days earlier—so if they were to open the tomb now, they would be greeted with a most unholy stench.
So like any one of us might do, she questioned Him. In fact, she went on to give Jesus a lesson in human biology, but Jesus was in no position to stand there and argue. He did not ask for a debate in mortuary science. He did not ask Martha for her thoughts, her feelings, or whether or not she actually thought it might be a good idea to move that stone. He simply just wanted her to move the stone.
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
It was only after the stone was removed, that Jesus prayed to the Father, and then the miracle was performed. Lazarus walked out of his tomb—no longer dead, but very much alive.
Now the point in this story, and the reason why this blog is called what it is, is not so much because of the miracle in Lazarus’ resurrection. Rather it is in what Martha had to do in order first for that miracle to take place. She had to believe first, before she saw the belief in action.
As one of my favorite ministers, Dr. Tony Evans, puts it best, sometimes God lets our sick situation become a dead situation. Sometimes He lets things go from bad to worse. Why? Because we do not experience God with sight first. We experience God with faith first—then God gives you something to see.
Jesus could’ve easily moved the stone by Himself. After all, He IS God and He can do anything. And if He can bring a man back from the dead, He surely doesn’t need our help in accomplishing any feat, large or small.
So then why did Jesus insist on having Martha remove the stone before anything else? The same reason He asked Moses to hold a stick out over the Red Sea. The same reason He told Abraham to offer up his child as a sacrifice. Sometimes He asks for these seemingly contradictory requests of us in order to test our faith. And when God makes a ridiculous request, prepare yourself, because it usually means that He is getting ready to show off…or in other words, show off His glory.
In order for Him to take action in our lives, to answer our prayers and deal with our needs, we must take the first step in faith. We must act like God is telling the truth, no matter how outlandish His instruction might be. Faith is not a feeling, it is an action. And it is why we are called to move the stones in our lives so that God is free to show off His miracles.
If Martha never moved the stone, we would’ve never saw BEYOND THE STONE. And without faith, it is impossible to please God. Hopefully this blog will help you to look past your seemingly impossible circumstance to better experience the sight unseen. However, ask yourself this question—what is the thing that’s holding you back, that might be preventing you from seeing God take action?