The Waiting Dead

180 minutes.

That’s what the sign said above the new ride at the amusement park.

3 hours!

And people kept getting in line.

“Well, it’s what we came here to do.” We said.

We got in line and waited. We looked around at all the people. We waited. We studied the architecture of the exterior of the new ride. We waited. We admired the details. We waited. We discussed how amazing the ride was going to be. We  waited. We made friends with the family behind us. We waited.

You get the idea.

Eventually, we made it…or so I thought. We made it to the first part of the ride, the setup for the storyline of the experience. Then we waited some more. Then a simulated elevator. Then we waited some more.

It took forever. 

And then, the ride. The amazing, unforgettable ride. The new thrills. The new ride technology. The big surprise. And then, it was over. Our hearts pounded as we recounted the details of the ride. The memories of the line faded away, and all we could think of was the amazing, awesome, wonderful ride.

I think the family and friends of Lazarus may have felt something similar. Their friend, their brother, died. He was dead. Really dead. Not close to death. Not mostly dead. Dead! They called on the only person they knew who could do anything about it, and the response was something akin to, “I’ll be there when I get there.”

Actually, it went like this,

John 11:4-7

But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

Jesus said he was going to wait, but not because he was lazy and didn’t feel like heading back to Judea. Nope. He was intentional in his waiting. He wanted to glorify God. He wanted the people to believe.

My cynical side wonders why he would do this. After all, we can’t replicate these types of miracles today right? I’m not so sure. After all, we are children of God, and we have the same Holy Spirit living inside of us that Jesus has. But let’s just pretend that we cannot raise people from the dead the way Jesus is about to raise Lazarus. Then, how can we raise people from the dead?

As I sit in downtown St. Pete, watching people walk up and down Beach Drive, I see fake smiles, shopping bags filled with temporary happiness. I see pain behind beautiful eyes. I see a city filled with death, and the only hope for these people, the only hope for me, is Jesus.

The only hope for Lazarus was Jesus.

Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead physically, he can raise all of us from the dead spiritually.

John 11:25

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.

It’s been 4 days since Lazarus died. Jesus still hasn’t done anything. They wrapped him in burial clothes, and put him in a tomb. They covered the entrance with a large rock. By all accounts, Lazarus was done. His body had already started rotting, and the stench was sickening, to say the least.

John 11:38-44

Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

Jesus was angry. Don’t make Jesus angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry. OK, comic book movie quote aside, the real question is – why is Jesus angry?

He could be mad at the people for burying Lazarus before he got there. He could be mad that so many people still didn’t believe he was the savior they’d been waiting for. But really, he was ticked off at death itself; this curse on the earth that separates man from God, that brings sickness and decay, that fills people with fear and causes them to doubt even the very existence of God. So, ticked off at death, and weeping for his friend, Jesus did what no one thought was possible. He called Lazarus out of his tomb.

Dramatic pause.

Lazarus walks out.

Did anyone care at that point that they waited for 4 days? Nope. Pure excitement. Pure amazement. Pure faith. Do you think anyone talked about the 4 day wait? Doubtful. They were too busy talking about this amazing thing they had just seen happen.

Are you part of the waiting dead? Are you waiting on God to heal a sickness, take away a hurt, fill a void, free you from addiction?

There is hope. There is freedom. There is relief coming. Trust in the process. When Jesus calls out to you, it’s going to be a fantastic event. I just hope I’ll get to be there to witness it.

This post was originally shared on October 21, 2015 on the Radius Church blog.


3 thoughts on “The Waiting Dead

  1. Hi Rob,

    As I read this post, I was once again reminded of the gift God has given you to clearly express a message with the words you choose. Excellent post!



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