Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” John 11:39
This devotion tells the stories of two men who died. The first man, whose story was carried last week by Reuters’ News Service, came from a small village in the state of Orissa, India. While searching for firewood, a snake bit the man, and he died. According to custom, his mourning family buried him the same day. Two days after the funeral, the man’s mother dreamt that her son could be brought back to life. With great anticipation, the family dug up the man’s body and hired a local witch doctor to raise their son from the dead.
Let me now leave the narrative of that man and tell you of another fellow who lived 2,000 years ago in the small Judean village of Bethany. Although I don’t know the illness that caused his death, I do know that the man was mourned by his sisters. They, along with friends, and according to custom, buried the man shortly after he passed away. I can also tell you that even before this man had died the family sent for Jesus hoping He would affect a cure.
The stories, up to this moment, are remarkably similar in their telling. The similarity stops here.
For two days, the family of the man from India sat and fanned his corpse. For two days, the witch doctor did his best to bring about a resurrection. Then, after two days, the grieving family reburied their son. This man’s story ends with his family standing before his filled grave.
There is a different outcome in the story of our second man. Scripture says by the time Jesus reached the home of his friend, the man had been dead for four days. When Jesus ordered the man’s tomb to be opened, his sisters objected. They knew their brother’s body would be advanced in its decomposition. Still, with Jesus’ assurances, the grave was opened, and the Savior called into the darkness this command: “Lazarus, come out.” This story ends when a living Lazarus, still wrapped in grave cloths, came shuffling out of the darkness.
I said this devotion was the tale of two men who died. That is not entirely true. For certain, this devotion does address the subjects of death and the faith of mourning families. But more than these things, this devotion encourages mourners to have faith in a God who has the ability and willingness to defeat death. This devotion speaks of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who lived, died and overcame death by His resurrection. He is the only Savior who can truthfully say, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, death is a reality. That You, our Redeemer, have conquered death is an even greater truth. May I ever be thankful for what You have done and what You will do. In Your Name, Amen.