The Lazarus Marriage – Part I (John 11:1-44)
The Bible tells the story of Lazarus, a man who died while waiting for Jesus to come and heal him. However, the story doesn’t end with Lazarus’ death. Four days after he was buried, Jesus resurrected him. While these three sentences provide the Cliff Notes version of the story, stopping here misses the whole point. Stay with me for a few minutes, even if you aren’t a Christian, and let me share the details of this story and how it relates to your marriage.
Jesus LOVED Lazarus
First up, Lazarus wasn’t just another random person seeking help from Jesus. He and Jesus were friends….not the casual come and go type of friends, this friendship went deep. Whenever Jesus was in Judea, he looked Lazarus up and stayed with him. They were “tight.” The relationship went beyond the bond between the two of them, it included Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha. These women were so close to Jesus that Mary washed his feet using her most expensive bottle of perfume and dried them with her hair. Perhaps the most loving act of intimacy recorded in the entire Bible. Later, when Jesus rose from the tomb, Mary and Martha were the first to see him. The relationship between Jesus and this family was personal, intimate and one of a kind….much like your marriage.
A Life or Death Emergency…
One day, Lazarus became deathly ill. Mary and Martha knew exactly what to do and wasted no time. They sent word to Jesus. The sisters knew they needed a miracle to save their brother’s life and Jesus was the one man who could deliver. Now, let’s make this clear….Jesus LOVED Lazarus. Yet, when he received the message…..He hung out for the next couple days and then said, “This sickness will not end in death, it is for God’s glory.”
I don’t know about you but so far, I’m having a hard time finding the glory….. Have you ever needed something desperately from your partner….the one who claims to love you and been denied? Did the unmet need cause a little piece of you to die? Did a small part of your relationship go cold? Did you question the sincerity of their professed love?
Now the story gets interesting. AFTER Lazarus died, Jesus decides to return to Judea. Now, this is no small thing. You see the last time he was there the leadership tried to kill him….you’re probably thinking that’s why he was reluctant to go in the first place….I get it. While this would be a good excuse it is not the reason for his delay. Jesus has other motives in mind….he’s making a point…. an important one at that….his best friend’s death is necessary to drive this point home….so he says: “We are going to Lazarus now so that you will clearly see and believe.” He then says, “ I’m not afraid of the people in Judea, we have 12 hours of daylight to get there and people who have light can see and have safety, it is only when we are shrouded in darkness do we need to be afraid.”
Has Something Died in Your Marriage?
What have you risked to benefit your marriage? What has been withheld that damaged your marriage? Have you ever done that hard thing to bring clarity to a situation? Have you ever been hard-nosed just to make a point? (Hint, the previous two questions seem like the same question….they aren’t and the difference is critical.) Are there circumstances where you have to love your spouse enough to not give in to the thing that weakens your union….despite being pressured to do otherwise? Have you ignored your spouse’s needs? Have you been ignored? Does something or someone else take precedence over your marriage?
Too Much; Too Little; Too Late
When Jesus arrives, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days. His decomposing body was rotting in the tomb. The stench was awful.
Mary and Martha are heartbroken and confused. Mary was so hurt, she didn’t even greet Jesus when he arrived. She withdrew into silent grief. Martha, confronts Jesus “IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE, my brother would not have died…. (Do you detect any hint of accusation?) Martha continues, “but EVEN now, I know God will give you whatever you ask.” (Translation: What are you going to DO about this situation????? I know you can fix it….Are you going to???) Jesus responds, “Your brother will rise again.” (Is Jesus being nonchalant about a life or death situation WHEN HE had the power to stop it??? Seriously???) Does any of this sound remotely familiar? (Que the eye-roll and Hmph… chorus.)
Martha is mad. Her brother would be alive and well if Jesus had come immediately. He didn’t. Lazaris is dead. Yet, she loves Jesus…still. Martha loves Jesus so much that even in her disappointment she doesn’t want to be hurtful. She responds with a “side-step” answer saying, “He will arise on the day of resurrection.”
Are You Mad?
Are there patterns of passive-aggressive retaliation in your marriage? Do you blame your spouse when something goes wrong? Have you withdrawn when you were hurt and shut down choosing instead to disregard them? Have you been preoccupied with other matters…..issues that don’t impact your family….matters that are not important….and showing up after the fact? Have you ignored your partner’s pleas for immediate action or help? Have you made seemingly empty promises? Have you given an indirect response rather than openly and honestly addressing the whole of how you really felt? Have you been honest….or demanding….about your needs?
Feel Stupid for Loving THAT Much?
Have you ever loved a man who crushed you and left you hanging? Have you loved him even when it hurt you and you didn’t want to love him? Have you ever wished that love away? Have you loved when it hurt you to love…and then protected the one you love? Have you felt stupid for loving THAT much?
The Lazarus Marriage.
If these patterns have taken root in your marriage, it is either dead or dying. Don’t ask me how I know…. If your marriage matters to you….there is a bit more to the story. It’s too early to give up hope. Stay with me in the next post for the next part of the story. Lazarus does indeed rise again….and your marriage can too.