Specific Love

February 14, 2018

In the Bible, we never hear of a man named Lazarus before or after he dies. What we know is that he had two sisters, who were seemingly close with Jesus, and that Jesus waited several days before raising him from the dead. Because of this, we can only infer that a previous relationship was present between the two, but the Bible is trying to show something by introducing this story from seemingly nowhere. We believe that God loves generally, in the sense that the world is his creation and in some way he hopes that we're all generally good people and that we all have an opportunity to receive salvation. We think that because it's how many of us view the world. That's not at all the type of love that Jesus exhibits, nor the type of love that God has for us. This story is about Jesus showing specific, personal love for a character who was otherwise less than a footnote in history.

 

We learn of the mysterious figure Lazarus and his death in John chapter 11. Jesus goes to where he has died and meets with the famous sisters, Mary and Martha, who we see on a couple of occasions. They basically scold Jesus for being too late, both reminding him that if he had been present, they know that Lazarus would still be alive. And, moved with emotion, it says in verse 35 that, "Jesus wept." Growing up a pastor's son has forced me to attend more funerals than I can count. I've been to funerals for all of my grandparents, multiple great grandparents, friends, distant family members, and even strangers. I've never once cried, even for those I loved dearly. I don't know why, it's just not how I'm wired. But Jesus was so moved by this character who we are just meeting that he mourned his death.

 

What's my point? Jesus says later in John when pressed by his disciples that any who have seen him have seen the father. Jesus is God! And he loved and cared enough about this person to mourn his death? That's so powerful! I believe Jesus mourns all of our deaths as he loves everyone of us that much. But what is even greater is what he does after weeping the loss of this man. In verse 43, it says that "Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus come out!'" We know too that Lazarus was raised from the dead!

 

Jesus loves us enough to mourn, which is more than most of us love each other, but he also loves us enough to act powerfully on our behalf. That's not general, that's singularly specific. If He was willing to do this for Lazarus, he's willing to do it for us too! How do we know? In Acts 10:34, Peter, who knew Jesus personally, said, "God is no respecter of persons:". The Apostle Paul, a former persecutor of Christianity wrote the same words in Romans chapter 2.

 

Take comfort. It's not by anything you've done or could ever do, but simply by existing that God loves you and there's nothing you can do about it. He loves you so much that he wants to bless you and not curse you, to give you a future and a hope. He has good things stored up waiting for you. He loves you enough to weep and he loves you enough to act on your behalf! That's not a general love. That's the kind of love that will change the world!

 

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