A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” (John 11:1-3)
Relate: Nothing focuses our attention like a need. The sickbed, especially when it becomes a deathwatch, is a great equalizer. When a dear one is staring death in the face, even the staunchest atheist will begin offering up a prayer. Even the greediest soul will begin to bargain away their riches “if God would only…” Mortality puts everything in perspective.
Lazarus was a fairly well to do man. He often played host for Jesus and the twelve disciples (and whoever else happens to tag-along) so he must have had a pretty decent sized house. The grave and the guests for his funeral suggest that he was a well liked and respected member of the community. He must have been well known because this resurrection event garners a lot more attention than the others. Sometimes the mistake is made of connecting this Lazarus with the beggar Jesus mentions in his parable in Luke but they are clearly two separate figures.
React: Whatever conjecture is made, the fact is that Lazarus’ sisters lived out his name when they sent their message to Jesus. Lazarus is the Latin version of his name. In Hebrew it is Eleazar (אלעזר) and it means, “God is my help.” It is likely that they did all they could to nurse their brother back to help. I have no doubt that they sent for a doctor to do what he could. They probably had a bit more resources at their disposal than many others who were not as well off, but ultimately sickness and death is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, young or old, first or twenty first century, when death comes knocking there comes a point when we will all be hoping for a miracle. The sisters knew just where to go for one. They sent a message to Jesus. He is still the final answer.
God, I don’t want to have to wait for my deathbed to call out to You. I am calling now. I don’t want to wait until I am gravely ill to acknowledge my dependence. I acknowledge You now. You are not just God of my disasters, You are God of all of me. You are Lord at every moment. But that said, You are also my God when everything is falling apart around me. When disaster strikes, when sickness comes, be the first and primary place I turn. You are my hope. When I need a miracle, be who You are in my life. Ultimately, You are the Great Equalizer. For we all must one day bend our knees to You. God, I am bowing now.