Picture this for a moment. Someone you love dies unexpectedly. Your best friend shows up 4 days later having missed final goodbye's and the funeral. You take him to the grave side where he begins to weep and then... He says .... 'Dig him up'
A bit taken aback, you turn and say 'Seriously? You know he's been dead for 4 days and it's not going to be pretty...'
'Dig him up!' your Friend replies, 'I want to show you something...'
If you didn't know that it really happened with Jesus, you would be just as likely to be repulsed at the brash and crude request. Most of us would have walked away in shock and disgust.
I've been thinking about the story of Lazarus recently and I'm seeing something that I've never seen before. I am seeing Lazarus as a metaphor. Lazarus represents something that is common to all of us. He represents the disappointment of his sisters. They weren't disappointed in Lazarus, but in Jesus, in his passing and in his lost future. Lazarus represents embarassment. How could they face their friends who all knew that they had expected Jesus to help only to experience something different. They believed, but Jesus was absent when they needed him most. Lazarus could even represent their despair. It's reasonable to assume that since they were both unmarried that the three of them lived together and Lazarus was taking responsiblity to care for his sisters. Now suddenly and unexpectedly, their future was at stake as well.
What do you do with your disappointments, embarassments and fear? Mary and Martha wrapped theirs up in grave clothes and spices, placed them in a tomb and rolled a large stone in front of it. I think we do the same... We take our disappointments, despair, pain and embarassments and hide them deep inside a cave somewhere in the recesses of our lives, cover them over with a rock and move on with our lives desperately hoping that we can leave them behind.
Every so often, on His timetable rather than ours, Jesus shows up at the places where we've buried our 'stuff' and asks us to roll away the stone. I think He comes often and with intent because what's buried behind the stone holds incredible potential and possibility. God sees value in what we've buried behind the rock and He wants to redeem it in our lives. That can only happen when we respond in trust and obedience. Rolling the stone away is the first step in experiencing God's work in our lives.
Stop and listen today. Perhaps Jesus is whispering 'Roll away the stone...'