by Jerry Ousley
Doubt and Lazarus
Read John 11:1-44
Part 2 – Jesus Prayed
Now at the tomb of Lazarus, after Jesus had wept over His friend, He asked them to do something that seemed very strange and frankly, stupid to the people there. He asked them to remove the stone from the mouth of the tomb. Lazarus and his sisters were not rich people. While they had managed to secure a tomb, a small cave-like opening in the side of a hill, I’m certain they could not afford the elaborate preparations that the rich and wealthy provided for their dead. Wrapped in strips of clothe referred to as “grave clothes,” when Jesus asked them to remove the stone, Martha immediately responded, again in doubt, “But Lord, it’s been four days. Surely he stinks now.”
Of course, his body had begun the decomposing process. And I am certain that Martha was right in her assumption. They just could not get past the natural when it came to their situation. They were aware of the miracles that Jesus had done for others. Somehow, they just could not believe that He would work for them.
Are we any different today from those then? As believers in Christ, we know what He is capable of. We have read of His miracles, His teachings, His compassion for the human race. We believe and don’t doubt in what He has done. But when it comes to doing it for us, we somehow don’t feel worthy. Perhaps we feel that He can’t do it for us. And so, we make excuses like, “That was God’s will for then, but now we have faith and don’t need miracles.” Or, “We have the Bible now. God’s word is complete and so we no longer need miracles today.” It is true that the miracles of Jesus and the Apostles were witnesses to the unbelieving world as proof that Jesus was indeed Who He claimed to be.
But remember that often when telling of a miracle of Jesus the act is preceded with the words, “He had compassion on them.” Healings and miracles were a great witness of the identity of Jesus. But He also had compassion on people and healed them. That means that Jesus felt a compelling love to help those He came into contact with. No, we don’t have record that He healed every sick person He saw. But He did heal many. And so, what right do we have to say that He no longer heals and works miracles based on the experience of some who have not received what they thought they needed?
I refuse to pretend that I understand the mind of God. I have no idea why He healed some, worked miracles for some, and kept silent for others. I don’t understand it because I am human. As mortal men we have only a glimpse of what God has allowed us to see of His fantastic ability and His mind, His will and His wisdom. He is God, not me.
Jesus told Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Though they doubted still they obeyed Him and rolled away the stone from the tomb of Lazarus.
Now Jesus did something that each of us can do. He prayed. We have memorized the cliché’ that “prayer changes things.” We have made those words into plaques and signs. But do we really believe it? Prayer always changes things. Sometimes it tugs at the compassion of God and in His Divine will He moves and grants the miracle we feel we so desperately need in our life.
But sometimes when we pray, He changes our hearts. Though He may not heal or work a great miracle, He changes our hearts so we can see the answer. God is God, not man. He is not a weak being that responds to our ever beckon and call. But He does hear every prayer, and I believe He answers each one in the best way for our situation and circumstance.
The words of the prayer of Jesus were these: “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 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.” Jesus was God in the Flesh and He knew what He was about to do. He knew that what His purpose was would be accomplished. But those around Him, in their doubt and unbelief, needed to hear Him communicate with God.
He wants you to believe. You and I, who are born and bred to doubt, who are sinners and strangers to the righteousness of God, are encouraged by Jesus to believe. He wants us to know that He has been sent to make us free from our doubt and sin.
And then . . .
. . . To Be Continued . . .
Jerry D. Ousley is the author of ïSoul Challengeï, ïSoul Journeyï, ïOrdealï, ïThe Spirit Bread Daily Devotional and his first novel ïThe Shoe Tree.ï Visit our website at spiritbread.com to download these and more completely free of charge.
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