The raising of Lazarus from the dead was a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry. It not only foreshadowed Jesus’ own rising from the dead a short time later, but also pushed the faith of Jesus’ followers to the limit.
As Lazarus lay dying, Jesus got his hair and nails done.
As Lazarus lay newly dead, Jesus played another round of pool at the pub.
When Jesus finally made his way towards Bethany and Lazarus’s grieving family, all of his followers were certain that Lazarus was dead. Some of them even blamed Jesus for not showing up sooner to save him.
But God had a plan.
(God always has a plan.)
And God’s plan is always better than everyone else’s. It just doesn’t always look that way.
Jesus knew God’s plan for raising Lazarus from the dead because God told him. But God also told him not to tell anyone else for a time.
He wanted people to believe what they wanted to believe.
It was a test of sorts: A test of faith.
In fact, Jesus said he was glad for our sake that he wasn’t there to heal Lazarus from his illness. He also said that the purpose of Lazarus’s death was to instruct our belief. Imagine the disciples’ confusion when Jesus said that. What kind of lesson required a friend to die?
God always has a plan, and God’s plan is always better than ours. God is never missing in action, even though it may seem that way at times. We think in human terms through our human limitations, but God operates in a realm where the dead can be brought back to life with a simple command. The belief that Jesus wanted us to expand into was the realm of miracles.
Are you still operating in the realm of appearances, trusting only in what you can see and understand? Or have you entered into the realm of miracles, fully convinced that God always has a plan and that nothing is impossible for him?
If you’re born-again, you live in the Kingdom, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve entered into the realm of miracles. Many believers are still like doubting Thomas, wanting to touch Jesus’ open wounds, or they’re like little kids wanting to learn how to ride a bike but screeching every time their father tries to take off their training wheels. And so they wobble along on four wheels, leaning way over to one side, certain they’ve got the hang of riding a two-wheeler.
Pushing into the realm of miracles and finding your faith is like shedding your training wheels and finding your “bike balance”. I still remember the day my father took off my training wheels and ran behind me, holding onto the back of my bike seat. At some point he let go, and without knowing it I was floating along the sidewalk on two wheels all by myself… straight into a neighbour’s front doorsteps. But for the first time in my life, I’d felt the feel of what it felt like to float along on two wheels, and I never went back to training wheels. I’d found my balance on a bike, and that’s something I will never unfind.
Entering into the realm of miracles is similarly definitive. Once you realize that God can do anything at any time, you stop relying on your own limited senses and instead put your trust in God. You just let go and float. That’s the best way I can describe it: You move over a threshold and never want to go back. Trusting means not knowing and not understanding, yet fully believing. I cannot possibly know how God performs miracles, but I know that he does perform them, and that’s enough. Jesus likely didn’t know how God was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he believed that God could do it, and that was enough. God worked through Jesus’ belief, and he can work through ours, too, if we let him.
If you haven’t yet pushed into the realm of miracles, you need to get there. You need, as the saying goes, to “let go and let God”. You don’t have to know God’s plan or to understand how miracles work; you just have to believe that God does have a plan and that miracles do work. Or you can keep wobbling down the spiritual sidewalk with your spiritual training wheels on, leaning way over to one side and thinking you’ve mastered the faith thing.
God wants to take off your training wheels so he can share more with you and work through you like he worked through Jesus. Will you let him?