Why Did Lazarus Have To Die?
I’ve been reading Eric Metaxas’s Miracles again and there’s a section where he addresses the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And Metaxas really made me think. Why did Lazarus have to die anyway? Why did Lazarus have to endure the suffering? Why was it necessary for his family to mourn? I mean, Jesus could have shown up earlier and healed him as he did for so many. But he didn’t. So Lazarus suffered–and died.
By the time Jesus got there his sisters and his friends were weeping. And in answer to anyone who would say that God is some sort of impersonal metaphysical force, Jesus, God incarnate, was overcome with grief himself. And he wept for his friend, and for his friend’s family, and for his friend’s friends. Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, had been dead for four days. Four days. That’s significant because there was this idea in Jewish culture at the time, that when a person died their spirit hung around for three days. And here we find Lazarus dead beyond that time period. In fact when Jesus directed the men to remove the stone that sealed the tomb, Lazarus’s sister Martha protested.
“Hang on, he’s been dead for four days. He’s been decomposing,” she said, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench.”
But Jesus went ahead with it anyway.
He prayed out loud, not so God could hear him, but for the benefit of the people there.
And Lazarus walked out of that tomb.
And here’s where I have to ask: Why? Why was that necessary? Why did Lazarus and the people who loved him have to suffer that way? Why couldn’t Jesus have just healed him?
And the answer is found when we ask the question: Continue reading